Last week, Israel launched a new offensive against militants in Gaza, firing missiles on at least 20 targets and killing Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari.
Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007 when Israel withdrew from the area, has claimed responsibility for a series of rocket strikes over the past several months. It also last week said it was responsible for detonating a tunnel packed with explosives along the Gaza border with Israel while Israeli soldiers were working nearby.
While we’re not disputing that Israel should exercise its right to defend itself from attack, this most recent assault on Hamas seems like overkill, and comes as a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to ratchet up the rhetoric on Iran and that country’s perceived nuclear aspirations.
It’s a shame, really, that the last three years (or so) of what the New York Times in an editorial last week described as "an informal cease-fire" following the winter war in 2008-09, a more permanent and long-lasting peace agreement for both sides could not be reached through diplomatic means.
Instead, this recent ramping up of attacks will accomplish two things: It will distract from the ongoing Iran saga, as Western leaders continue to attempt to diffuse through politics and sanctions. It will also threaten the tenuous thread of "peace" which has prevented the entire region from spiraling into widespread conflict.
Think it won’t have any effect on us at home?
Not only is does the real threat of a Middle East conflict exploding (no pun intended) into a full-scale World War mean our sons and daughters would be once again shipped off to a foreign land; unlike 1914 and ‘45 it is all but certain nuclear arms will play heavily in the fight.
Or, if you prefer the less extreme: On Monday oil rose toward $111 a barrel as investors feared other countries would be pulled into the conflict between Hamas and Israel, while energy exports from the region were disrupted.
As always in these types of situations, it would be best for everyone involved if this issue could be solved through diplomacy and cooler-heads prevailing.