Zakaria: Flare-up in Gaza violence will be hard to stop
July 8th, 2014
10:27 AM ET

Zakaria: Flare-up in Gaza violence will be hard to stop

CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about the escalating violence in Gaza following the kidnappings and killings of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers in the past few weeks. This is an edited version of the transcript.

The fact that the teenager who was beaten by the Israeli Police, an American citizen – how much could that, or should that, change the U.S. posture on this unfolding very serious, potentially very deadly situation in the Middle East?

It changes it a lot. As you know, the way in which the United States reacts varies very dramatically depending on whether the people involved – whether killed, wounded, hurt – are American citizens or not. Now this means that the American embassy has to be involved. It means the State Department has to be involved. It means that potentially congressmen might get involved, senators might get involved.

And in general, there’s going to be a heightened media scrutiny, inevitably. And all of that’s going to make an already raw situation even more difficult to handle.

And now we see these rocket attacks from Hamas and Gaza. Israeli air strikes into Gaza. The more one side attacks the other side is inclined to hit back. How concerned are you that this escalation of rockets and air strikes will escalate into another all-out war, if you will?

A lot of times you see these kind of flare ups you don't know whether anything is going to happen – most of it doesn't flare up. In this case, what's happening is on both sides, there’s an internal compulsion and an internal dynamic which is pushing them to a confrontation that maybe they don't rationally want.

By that, I mean if you look at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has already lost his foreign minister and the support of a right-wing party. There's pressure for him to act from the right. If you look at Hamas, Hamas, as you know, hasn’t been doing particularly well over the last few years. It has been losing out to more radical, more militant alternatives. So they feel the need to do something.

Neither side can try to do something cooperative at this moment. So it almost reminds you, in a very small microcosm, of the events that led to World War I, when nobody rationally wanted a conflict but nobody could find the way to back down because they were being pushed by the internal dynamics. That seems exactly what's happening here.

So it's difficult to see how this stops. At what point does one of the sides say, you know what, let's have a moment where we make a preemptive concession. We do some kind of peace talks. That's not in the cards right now.

The U.S., as you know, doesn't deal with Hamas. The State Department regards Hamas as a terrorist organization. Last time there was a war, if you will, between the Israelis and Hamas in Gaza. The Egyptians brokered a ceasefire. Who could do that now?

Well, it's more difficult now because General el-Sisi and the new Egyptian government have very poor relations with Hamas. They've actually cut them off in various ways. So it's tough to imagine that dynamic playing itself out well. The United States has, of course, no contact with them. So perhaps you'd end up using somebody like Qatar or Saudi Arabia.

But again, the dynamics on the ground are really what seems to be motivating people. Nobody really wants this confrontation, but you have to show that you're tough. And you have to show that you're responding. And that's the dynamic we're in right now. I don't think an outside mediator is going to help.

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Topics: GPS Show • Israel • Middle East

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. daniel

    "The fact that one of the three teenagers who were killed by the Palestinians was an American citizen – how much could that, or should that, change the U.S. posture on this unfolding very serious, potentially very deadly situation in the Middle East? "

    See it's very easy to change a word here and a word there, Mr. Zakaria you are no expert.

    July 9, 2014 at 10:56 am |
    • bill richards

      israel must start killing hamas.

      killing them.

      not just their buildings but them.

      if they hide behind civilians - those civilians die too

      this is war

      during world war 2 - 50 million people died

      israel is fighting to defend itself.

      kill them israel

      they are terrorists, murderers... they die.

      July 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
      • j shami

        U R right sir, Israelies are terrorist, they do not belong there but only to Hell and Hell where they gonna be soon.

        July 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
    • David

      Indeed Both the Palestinian teen and one of the dead Israeli teens are/were American citizens. Fareed's liberal knee jerk article was based on only mentioning that the Palestinian was American. So typical! Whose publicly stated goal is to destroy who?

      July 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    What we sorely need to do is to set up a comprehensive peace plan between the Israelis and the Palestinians, including Hamas. Then set up a trust fund to purchase the Sinai from Egypt and give it to the Palestinians to develop and in turn, have the Palestinians or Hamas vow to stop attacking Israel. This is what the Israelis should have done back in 1982 instead of simply returning it to Egypt under Hosni Mubarak.

    July 9, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • j shami

      I am sure Hiltler is watching all this and thinking Why the hell he did not finish all of them.

      July 9, 2014 at 11:50 am |
      • sly

        That's funny – Osama Bin Laden was saying the same thing after watching Americans sky diving from the Twin Towers.

        July 9, 2014 at 11:59 am |
      • worldisblind

        Hitler's looking at nobody. He's all burnt up in hell.... which is where you're definitely heading with comments like that.

        July 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Jim

    Guilty by association- This American teenager should not have been hanging out with idiots throwing rocks and chunks of bricks. I would have shot more than just one them, these cowards pitching rocks then running away are luck they didn't get shot in the back while fleeing the scene. What nation on earth would allow its neighbors to launch missiles into its civilian population? I would enter Gaza and when I left nothing would be standing or living. Good place for America to dump its landmines now that they are banned.

    July 9, 2014 at 11:31 am |
    • sly

      Those 3 dead Israeli's also got what they deserved, since everyone in Israel should die ... right? Maybe America should dump all those chemical weapons we have in Israel. Wouldn't that solve the problem as well?

      Nothing more ignorant than American's like Jim who like to drop their bombs on civilians protesting a murder.

      July 9, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  4. Heywood

    Gaza, you mean the strip of land that Israel, unpopularlly, gave to the palastinians in the name of peace? That Gaza? The gift that they thanked Israel for by electing a terrorist and continue to fire rockets from? That Gaza?

    July 9, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • j shami

      Thank the USA, without USA Irasel will not exit one day. Trust me time is coming all these terrorists jews will be out of Palestine.

      July 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    Still doesnt answer my question. If they are doing so well they shouldnt need financing from us. And with the financial mess this country is in we cant afford to be financing other countries. Not to mention the growing number of homeless veterans in this country, that our government doesnt deem worthy enough to come to their aid!

    July 9, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  6. palintwit

    It must be absolute hell to look in a mirror and realize you're Sarah Palin. She should stick her head in a microwave.

    July 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
    • So true

      But why waste a perfectly good microwave?

      July 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • palintwit

        Then she should dive head first into a wood chipper.

        July 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
      • So true

        Sounds better.

        July 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  7. sandstorm

    This is a time to celebrate these brave Palestinian warriors have struck fear into the Jews killing the Jews children and launching missiles has far has 120km into Israel such a great achievement soon even greater things of suffering and pain will happen to the Jews.

    July 9, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
  8. BOMBO

    Just in case some of you have not been paying attention:

    Israel, Hamas, and the PA ALL condemned the killing of the Palestinian lad.
    Israel and the PA condemned the killing of the three Israeli lads – but Hamas celebrated it.

    For the past year and a half, there have been dozens of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel with very little response from Israel. Only recently has Israel stepped up airstrikes.

    When Hamas fires rockets and mortars, they don't care who they hit.
    When Israel carries out an airstrike they carefully target militants.

    The Hamas militants know this of course, so they hide among civilians.

    With all of this in mind, I can't believe that some people still insist that Israel and Hamas act the same way or even accuse Israel of being worse.

    July 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
  9. BOMBO

    Fareed hasn't quite got it right re Israeli politics. Netanyahu can quite easily look more toward the center (and even slightly left) for an alternate coalition. Israeli politics in general has moved right, so much so that Likud is actually only slightly right of center now. Netanyahu doesn't need Lieberman if he chooses not to deal with him. The choice is his.

    July 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
  10. BOMBO

    Well we could all drone on and on about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but the upcoming Sunni Shia conflict will make it look like a kindergarten tiff. Gaza is shaping up to be one of the battlegrounds. Why won't the Muslims ever defeat Israel? Because they can't stop fighting each other.

    July 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
  11. Mike

    Looking at the Gaza incident, I fear that a picture all too familiar is re-emerging: World War 2 under Nazism.

    History seems to be repeating itself. Only this time Israelis are no longer the victims but the perpetrators in this 21st century. Why do I say so? It is because when I watch what is happening to Gaza I see similar patterns between Israel today and Nazi Germany during WW2:

    First similarity- concentration camps:
    Nazis controlled Auschwitz
    Israel controlled Gaza.
    Both are operated as concentration camps

    Second similarity- the use of chemical weapons:
    Under Nazism Sarin was used in Auschwitz, Under Israel White Phosphorus is used on Gaza.
    Both were used on men, women, and children

    Third similarity- racist propaganda
    Both used propaganda coupled with racist rethorics to justify their war and actions of killing million of innoncent palestinians bystanders. Nowadays, so many people are spreading animosity against Arabs on social media. Going as far as promoting exterminating the Arabs.

    Fourth similarity- camps extension
    During WW2, the Nazis extended their concentration camps across Europe
    Today Israeli are building Jewish camps in Palestinians territories

    One would expect that the Jewish community who was victim of a very terrible injustice during World War 2, would learn from their past history and defend against any sort of aggression and oppressor. What I cannot comprehend is that why any orher countries are standing iddly by without any definitive and punitive sanctions against these acts of terror committed by Israel? Help us understand because I am at a loss

    July 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
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