The conflict in the Gaza Strip will have no winners

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Year after year, we hear the same story.

Israelis and Palestinians start fighting. After losing lives, money and resources, the two sides eventually stop. Then they repeat the process.

In the Gaza war, fighting doesn’t serve the interests of either side. It only makes it more difficult to find a workable solution.

“From my perspective, both sides lost,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies Jeremy Rinker. “When you have loss of life, and you have destruction of property and resources to that extent, I don’t see how anybody’s a winner. It becomes a lose-lose scenario.”

Yet people on both sides celebrated the most recent cease-fire agreement as a victory for themselves and a loss for their opponents. This year’s war saw minimal change for both sides, and it pushed them even further apart. This war doesn’t serve the goals of either side, so we shouldn’t be surprised when neither achieves them.

Israel has complicated relationships with its surrounding countries, and many people resent the mere existence of the Jewish state. Israel could easily face disaster if it ended up on the losing side of a war even once, so militarization and national security rank among its highest priorities.

In the war with Gaza, Israel hurls missiles over the border as a show of strength and invades the region in force. This hurts the country’s national security more than it helps because it only creates more resistance, making it easier for others to side against Israel.

“Our smart bombs and our hundreds of planes didn’t help us,” wrote Gideon Levy in a column for Israeli publication Haaretz. “They didn’t win the war and couldn’t have won it.”

If Israel wants the best option for their national security, they need to find a peaceful and long-term solution to create stability. Israelis have made minimal effort to end the warring and find that solution.

Israel has three options for dealing with the situation.

It can continue this destructive cycle of small wars with Palestinian forces, it could attempt to exterminate the entire Palestinian population, or Israelites could begin to slowly live with the Palestinians as neighbors and countrymen while acknowledging their grievances and rights.

The third option is obviously the best solution for both the Israelis and Palestinians, but it will take time. This solution probably will not happen within a single year, decade or even a century, but it’s important that we take steps towards that goal right now.

Palestinians need to see that solution, too. Fighting doesn’t serve the interests of their side. They need to understand and recognize Israel’s rights. As long as the fighting continues, the Palestinian people face as many discrimination and rights abuses as ever.

Hamas, the main Palestinian armed resistance group, has chosen to fight on the wrong side of an asymmetrical war, and this has devastated the people of Gaza. Hamas will not gain anything substantial from this war, nor future conflicts, because they simply do not have the muscle to overpower Israel.

The Palestinian people have faced systematic oppression from the Israeli government for decades, but by targeting Israeli civilians, they only make their oppression seem legitimate. Hamas needs to show a willingness to communicate and deal with Israel fairly if they hope to gain anything for the Palestinian people in the future.

Neither side can claim this war is just.

“Are both sides guilty of war crimes?” said Joe Cole, visiting assistant professor of philosophy. “My answer is yes, they are.”

Both sides have legitimate concerns. Both sides have committed atrocities. Both sides need to work together towards a long-term solution. Two-state solution or one-state solution, both must learn to live with each other as neighbors. Neither side deserves support because as long as they continue to fight, both continue to lose.