At a panel discussion Wednesday, ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ Boulder experts on the modern Middle East noted that the current war differs from previous conflicts
Though conflict between ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ and the militant group Hamas has simmered and flared for decades, the war initiated Saturday by Hamasâs terrorist attack on ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ is different, experts on the region said Wednesday.
At a panel discussion convened in response to the war in ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ and the Gaza Strip, Zach Levey, the ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ Institute Visiting Professor at the University of ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ Boulder, said that while tension between ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥, a sovereign state, and Hamas, a terrorist organization, has a lengthy history, everything from the past few days has been very different from previous clashes.
Saturdayâs terrorist attack by Hamas on ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i territory yielded hundreds of ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i deaths, as well as dozens taken hostage. In response, ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed retaliation, officially declaring war on Hamas and conducting airstrikes back across the Gaza Strip.
Levey said that the attack can be regarded as âa great failure and a security fiasco for ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥â and that accountability for the lapse likely will be demanded. He also noted that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip would be extremely costly, and that the ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i governmentâs current strategy of inducing a humanitarian crisis via airstrikes to topple Hamas is nothing short of a âtragedy.â
Panelist Karim Mattar, a ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ Boulder associate professor of English, called the war an âongoing catastrophe.â He called Hamas' atrocities a âstain on Palestine and the Palestinian people,â as well as a âstain on the name of Islam.â He said that if peace is to come, both sides must analyze their history, collectively come to terms about antisemitism and find a mutually beneficial agreement.Ìı
Of particular concern, Mattar noted, are some of the U.S. governmentâs actions, includingÌı essentially giving ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ the green light to do whatever is deemed necessary to protect ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i citizens. This could lead to the continuation of the cycle of hatred and violence that has plagued the people of Palestine and ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥ for the past 75 years, Mattar said.
John Willis, an associate professor of history who specializes in the modern Middle East and a panelist Wednesday, said that the current war may significantly affect ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥âs relationships with the United States as well as other regional states, especially the Gulf States. Ìı
When asked whether there might be an opening for negotiations or peace talks between the two sides, Levey responded with a firm âno.â He noted the long history of negotiations between the two sides, which are nonetheless at war. âNegotiation prospects have been shattered,â Levey said, adding that if there any diplomatic overtures were to be made, they would likely come from Egypt regarding freeing the hostages.
Mattar said that attacks along the West Bank likely will only increase in the coming days, with deepening impacts on the Palestinian people.
Levey noted, âIf the current ÃÛÌÇÖ±²¥i government has its way, there will be no path forward,â and he sees âno solution to this issue, not in the short term, not in the medium term and possibly the long term, too.â
However, the panelists emphasized the importance of discussing such highly contentious issues in a respectful and informative manner, with the hope that further education and greater understanding can pave the way for a peaceful future.
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