Gaza 2014 Timeline


Regarding the current escalation in Gaza and Israel, I have organized these remarks here  by JJ Goldberg into something of a timeline. I did something similar with an article by Emily Hauser to create a more detailed timeline leading up the last conflict in Gaza in 2012-13, which you can read here. This one now Goldberg presents as a “series of accidents and misunderstandings.” It falls around the abduction-murders of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and language by Prime Minister Netanyahu that drove the Hamas leadership immediately underground, at which point, Goldberg speculates, control on the ground was effectively lost in Gaza to more radical elements.

Here’s Goldberg’s analysis, which I broke up into two parts, followed by some tentative conclusions:

[1] When Israel began rounding up Hamas-West Bank, amid declarations from Bibi that Hamas “will pay,” the Hamas leadership in Gaza went underground and began gearing up for a renewed Gaza war that they feared — incorrectly, I believe — that Israel was planning. Going underground meant abandoning their earnest-but-not-always-competent enforcement of the 2012 cease-fire. The result was a sudden, drastic increase in rocket fire from PRC, Islamic Jihad and the Qaeda-style jihadis to its right. Israel responded with several aerial attacks on rocket crews.

[2] But on June 29 Israel hit a Hamas operative, who was not involved in rocket fire but by some reports [was] part of the enforcement squads. Hamas publicly protested the assassination of its guy and responded the next morning with a barrage of its own rockets. These were by every account the first rockets Hamas had fired since the 2012 cease-fire. Israel responded to the rockets with air raids, and things escalated from there. Neither side wanted it, but neither wants to quit first. Usually these campaigns end when the Egyptians come up with a formula that allows both sides to claim some sort of victory.

Torn out of larger historical and political contexts, the timeline suggests that this recent round of fighting might have been otherwise checked and managed in the short term by lines of communication through back channels or through powerful mediators like the Egyptian intelligence services (which are now no longer on the scene). If one can assume that neither Israel nor Hamas had any prior interest in entering this round of conflict at the present moment, it seems to be the case that these local triggers have little to do, at least not on the surface, with the ideological rubrics of occupation and resistance or Zionism and the right of Israel to defend itself against rocket attacks, i.e. with the rubrics that then enter into, shape, and justify the conflict and its framing discourses.

Anticipating critical pushback, I want to explain that it is not that I am uninterested in or underestimate the complex force of history, asymmetrical lines of power, and ideological fissures and contexts that drive the conflict. What I’m trying to get at here is the sense of how these form or enter into sometimes the background and sometimes the foreground of consciousness, not in opposition to, but in relation to more local triggers, perspectival apprehensions and agitations, and moral points of view.


About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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