A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Very Dangerous Moment

The latest fighting in Gaza is both depressingly familiar and also dangerously escalatory at a time of rising regional tensions.  The tit-for-tat retaliation and escalation is hardly new: a rocket firing into Israel, an Israeli response, and on up the escalator. Israel's decision to directly target the senior Hamas military commander and other high officials raises the stakes, but Hamas can hardly be unaware that Israel is determined to respond to rocket attacks against its people. (Though whether the attacks that started all this were launched by Hamas or someone else is still disputed.) But when Israel strikees at targets in densely populated Gaza, civilian casualties are inevitable, and as on other occasions photos of dead or injured Palestinian children  provokes anger throughout the Arab world. And  in the present circumstances in the Middle East, that may be playing with fire.

With recent exchanges of fire on the Golan (though whether the firing from the Syrian side was from regime forces or rebels is unclear), the  high tensions between Israel and Iran, and the dangerously anarchic situation in Sinai, any escalation on  the Gaza front has the risk of spreading. Given President Morsi's background, he is under a lot of domestic pressure to stand up to Israel or at least sharply condemn events, and is said to be recalling Egypt's Ambassador from Tel Aviv. But Egypt and Israel are no longer the only actors in Sinai, so neither is completely in control of events there. The war next door in Gaza could easily engage the radical Jihadi elements in Sinai.

These are dangerous times, and the fact that Israel is in the midst of an election campaign may make it more difficult to de-escalate once decisions are made. Israel's right to defend itself is self-evident, but with so many smoldering powder kegs around, one can only hope it is very careful about what it aims at..

4 comments:

Phil'n Law said...

Another facet of the danger--one that I may write about shortly--derives from the fact that while Jordan is not on fire, it does seem to be smoking. A full-scale uprising in Jordan would have serious consequences for both Israeli's and Palestinians.

Phil'n Law said...

Another facet of the danger--one that I may write about shortly--derives from the fact that while Jordan is not on fire, it does seem to be smoking. A full-scale uprising in Jordan would have serious consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Agreed. I should have mentioned Jordan,which seems to be worsening.

Phil'n Law said...

I don't know enough to say anything particularly useful about it, but I figured someone should at least mention it: http://www.philosophyandlaw.com/2012/11/gaza-israel-war-jordan.html