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Surprise! Palestinians think this is a war.

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Earlier today, two Israeli soldiers were “lightly to moderately wounded” by gunfire out of Gaza. According to HaAretz:

There has been an increase in hostile activity along the Israel-Gaza border, including the planting of explosive devices, shootings, and RPG fire.

Reports also emerged that two terror cells had been uncovered by Israel’s security services in the Hebron area:

Israel’s security forces have arrested operatives of a Hamas terrorist cell in the city of Hebron, suspected of planning to abduct Israelis in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.

… it was also made public that the IDF and Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service] uncovered another terrorist cell operating in the village of Yata, near Hebron in the West Bank. The cell used mobile phones to initiate explosive devices.

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And furthermore

[T]wo months ago Israel’s security forces arrested a number of Palestinians suspected of attempting to abduct Israelis in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet, the squad had nine operatives living in the area of Ramallah.

News like this is cause for concern, and should remind us of the need for solid security arrangements in any future peace plan. Here’s what news like this shouldn’t do:

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Surprise us.

Not because the Palestinian people are particularly given to violence and perfidy (any more than any other people) or are incapable of nonviolence (in fact, more and more Palestinians are turning to nonviolent protest) but because they are people.

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When communities live in a warzone, those communities tend to respond with war. Israelis know a little something about this.

There’s a tendency among many both in and outside of Israel, however, to act as if Palestinian violence is somehow outside of the realm of human expectation. There is a further tendency to conflate the conscious targeting of civilians (which is vile and inexcusable) with the targeting of uniformed soldiers (which is war, and I’ll leave it to you to decide if war is vile).

I would submit, however, that carrying out violence against those with whom you’ve been at war for decades is a very, very human trait. Israel plans for it; why are we surprised when Palestinians do, too? Unless we expect them to quietly accept a circumstance that Israelis themselves would be unwilling to accept.

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Clearly, denying people a state – and thus access to state-sanctioned violence – doesn’t prevent violence. (Israelis know a little something about that, too).

As I’ve written before, the only way for Israelis and Palestinians to stop killing each other is to stop. We will not beat each other into submission. We will only continue to be fully human, with all the glory and horror that implies.

Crossposted at Emily L. Hauser In My Head.

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