If we were to ask anyone, from an ordinary observer to a well-read media analyst, who breaks ceasefires more frequently, Palestinians or Israelis, they would almost certainly say the Palestinians. This is because the international media makes sure that we all know when a rocket is launched from Gaza into Israel. Western and Israeli politicians also cite this phenomenon in their interviews, press conferences and speeches as one of the justifications for Israel's unending economic blockade of Gaza, among other things. When it comes to the situation in Gaza, almost all we hear about are the rockets.
Recently, the Jerusalem Fund, a non-profit organisation based in the United States, began a study of the violence between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza; it has compiled a list of cease-fire violations by the two sides. The main finding is clear: "Palestinian rockets are rare and sporadic, and nearly always occur following Israeli cease-fire violations." In spite of this apparently obvious fact, diplomats seeking Middle East peace always mention Israel's "security concerns"; those of the Palestinians are hardly ever aired.
Yousef Mounayyer, the Jerusalem Fund's Executive Director, explained how the dynamics on the ground usually work: the Israelis launch an attack on Gaza without accountability; that provokes a response from the Palestinians; the Israelis claim "self-defence" and hit back disproportionately. Mounayyer's detailed explanations can be read here.
John Glaser of Antiwar.com has also written about previous incidents in which Israel violates the cease-fire with gunfire, bombings and territorial incursions, and uses the inevitable retaliation by the Palestinians as an excuse to launch an even bigger bombing campaign.
It cannot be ignored any longer that Israel breaks cease-fires more frequently and with greater devastation than the Palestinians. Given the facts available for all to see, the biggest surprise about all of this is that most people still believe that the Palestinians are the main culprits.
The detailed explanation of the study can be read here.
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