Now that the Israel/Gaza war is over (for a time), what did it cost and what did it actually achieve?

After the collapse of at least eight temporary ceasefires, it looks as the ‘permanent’ ceasefire between the Israeli Defence Force and Hamas is holding. So it is time to take stock of the consequences of the 50-day conflict.

What was the cost?

In Gaza, more than 2,100 were killed, most of them civilians, including about 500 children.  Some 18 alleged informers were publicly executed. At least 11,000 were injured. More than 17,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Around one third of the population of 1.8 million has been displaced.

On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers died and five civilians – including a four-year old boy – were killed. Hundreds of families living near the Gaza border had to be relocated to safer homes further north. The firing of thousands of rockets from Gaza forced many Israelis to seek protection in shelters again and again.

What was achieved?

Israel launched the attack originally to stop the rocket assaults. The IDF claims that the weapons stocks of Hamas and other militant groups have fallen to less than a third of their pre-war levels of around 10,000 rockets either by being fired or by being destroyed in air strikes. Hundreds of Hamas men, including three top commanders and a civilian ‘money man’, have been killed. As the conflict went on, the IDF added the destruction of tunnels to their war aims. Dozens have been found and blasted. The Israeli Government claims that it has achieved a period of “quiet” and safety.

For the people of Gaza, there is now an undertaking to open border crossings with Israel and Egypt to allow humanitarian aid and construction materials to enter the enclave. Also the fishing zone is to be extended to six miles off the coast. Hamas claims that it has shown its ability to resist Israeli aggression and calls the outcome a “victory”.

But really what has been achieved?

The latest ceasefire terms are almost identical to those agreed at the end of the previous war 21 months ago. Prior to that conflict, we had the Israeli invasion of Gaza in January 2009 that was supposed to stop the rocket attacks and destroy Hamas.

Unless there are now negotiations and agreements on much more fundamental issues, the easing of border restrictions will simply lead to the smuggling into Gaza of more rockets that, at a tim e of tension, will be fired into Israel which will attack with disproportionate force and we will have yet another war in this seemingly endless cycle of violence.

There has to be significant concessions and compromises by both sides. The Egyptians, the Qataris and US Secretary of State John Kerry deserve thanks for their patient brokering of the current ceasefire – but the negogiating has only just started.


  • David

    There is no negotiations with an enemy whose goal is your annihilation. There is also no disproportionate use of force in war. The object of war is to make the cost of continuing to fight higher than he is willing to or capable of paying. In reality, the greater force you use on your enemy, the quicker the conflict will end resulting in fewer casualties on both sides.

  • Roger Darlington

    I am afraid I disagree with on both counts, David.

    1) There are times and circumstances when it makes sense to negotiate with “an enemy whose goal is your annihilation” . The British Government negotiated with the Provisional IRA to conclude the Good Friday Agreement that ended the conflict in Northern Ireland even though the goal of the IRA was to eliminate the existence of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

    In fact, Hamas and Israel are already in negotiation – although not yet face to face. That is how the current ceasefire was concluded. And this ceasefire requires negotiations to continue on other matters.

    2) It is not correct that “there is no disproportionate use of force in war”. International humanitarian law – including the Geneva Conventions – clearly requires belligerent parties to limit force to that which is proportionate and to use use disproportionate force is actually a war crime.

    A number of organisations have petitioned the United Nations arguing that the latest assault on Gaza by Israel has in fact used such disproportionate force – see here:


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