Old wars in a new Middle East

Strategic Outlook/ the Commentator

For the first time since the Gulf War, sirens were heard this past weekend in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. News stations broadcasted scenes of confused residents running for shelter along with instruction on what do when you hear a siren.  Fortunately, people here adapt quickly.  All of the sudden, long-hardened residents from down South were reassuring their friends and family in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion: “You have more than a minute before the missile hits” they say, “down here we only have 15 seconds!”

The escalation in Gaza and the Israeli response, a.k.a Operation Pillar of Defense, is the first Israel-Palestinian escalation to unfold in the “new” Middle East.  The last two years, the years of the Arab Spring, minimized the Palestinian focus of the Middle East. Instead, citizens of the region were out on the streets, taking down dictators, and installing new governments.  The people of the Middle East are still finding their way as blood continues to be shed in Syria. Israelis and West-Bank Palestinians had their own “mini spring” in the form of demonstrations against economic policies and rising prices although these issues will be left for the coming elections. As for the Gaza Palestinians, well, they were neither allowed to demonstrate nor to elect any leadership since Hamas took control of Gaza in a military coup in 2007. Continue reading “Old wars in a new Middle East”