The cycle of violence continues, Part 73,428,614


by Jeff Fecke • Someday, one of the sides on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will wake up and realize that the eternal cycle of retaliatory violence isn’t working for either side.

Today is not that day:

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

Waves of Israeli airstrikes hit Hamas security facilities in Gaza on Saturday in a crushing response to the group’s rocket fire, killing more than 200 — the highest one-day toll in an Israeli military operation against Palestinians in decades.

Israeli military officials said the airstrikes, which went on into the night, were the start of what could be days or even months of an effort to force Hamas to end its rocket barrages into southern Israel. The operation could ultimately include ground forces, a senior Israeli security official said.

After the initial airstrikes, which Palestinian officials said also wounded at least 600, dozens of rockets struck southern Israel, where an emergency was declared. Thousands of Israelis hurried into bomb shelters amid the hail of rockets, including some longer-range models that reached farther north than ever before. One man was killed in the town of Netivot and four were wounded, one seriously.

The sad thing is that both sides can use this to make their argument. Israel’s “friends” can say that they were provoked into the attack, never mind that the attack was so disproportionate as to be ludicrous. The Palestinians’ “friends” can say that this proves that Palestinians need to continue their rocket attacks, never mind that common sense tells you that if you keep poking an angry bear with a pointy stick, it’s going to attack in a disproportionate way. And meanwhile, Israel is no closer to peaceful coexistence, and Palestine is no closer to having its own functional state, and innocent Israelis and Palestinians are caught in the crossfire.

I’ve long believed that America needs to be a friend to Israel, and being a friend to Israel means, you know, being a friend — and telling them that sometimes, their actions are counterproductive. This attack has already spawned retaliation from Hamas, which will spawn further retaliation from Israel, which will cause further retaliation from Hamas, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Until one of the sides (or heck, both) wakes up and realizes this is madness, the madness will continue unabated.

originally published December 27, 2008