The many layers and narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can easily complicate one's understanding of Israel and Hamas' current war in Gaza.
The war, now in its third week, is being waged between the Israeli army and Hamas, a U.S. and Israel-designated terrorist group that politically and militarily controls Gaza.
After a series of ill-fated, temporary cease-fires, the war has no demonstrable sign of ending, with casualties on both sides mounting.
Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria G.P.S., joined Chris Cuomo on "New Day" Tuesday to break down the factors and causes of the current war, identifying the players, their respective demands, and who should bear responsibility.
(L-R: Netanyahu, Kerry, Meshaal)
Benjamin Netanyahu is the Israeli prime minister. Bibi, as he is known among Israelis, is a long-time hawk and tough hard-liner on Israeli security issues, Zakaria explained.
John Kerry is the U.S. Secretary of State who, according to Zakaria, "never stops trying." His latest attempt at brokering an Israel-Hamas cease-fire stoked controversy domestically and internationally.
Khaled Meshaal is the leader of Hamas, and rules remotely; he is based, among other Hamas officials, in Qatar. "I think he would not stay alive in Gaza," Zakaria said.
WHO'S TO BLAME?
Zakaria believes that, from a short-term perspective, "Hamas originated this conflict."
Rockets fired into sovereign Israeli territory were bound to incite a reaction.
But he also averred that, from a long-term standpoint, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has done essentially no negotiating with Palestinians (namely the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank) to create a long-term peace.
"What is his strategy?" Zakaria asked.
Kerry, Zakaria said, should not be blamed for the collapse of the cease-fire deals. He tried to create "some kind of process" between the two parties.
What does Israel want?
Israel entered the Gaza operation with a multi-faceted endgame: end rocket fire into Israeli territory, demilitarize Gaza, and dismantle Hamas tunnels.
Constant rocket fire from Gaza paralyzes Israeli society, Zakaria said, and puts Israeli citizens in bomb shelters or under siege.
The range of Hamas rockets has improved over time, and could extend deeper into Israel.
Yet the cessation of rocket fire goes hand-in-hand with Israel's second initiative, Zakaria said - the demilitarization of Gaza.
"In today's world, it is so easy to get small arms, light ammunition, and Hamas has been doing it for decades now," he said.
Perhaps most significantly, the Israeli military is intent on dismantling a complicated network of tunnels built by Hamas.
The tunnels, Zakaria said, are sophisticated and fortified with concrete.
It is not immediately clear, to Zakaria and other international observers, whether the concrete used for the tunnels was intended for other infrastructural purposes in Gaza.
Nonetheless, the Israeli embargo upon Gaza controls the flow of building materials in and out of the small coastal strip, Zakaria noted.
Concrete has universal purposes (i.e. building schools or shelters), and blocking its entry could create a Catch-22 for Israelis.
What does Hamas want?
Hamas' goals are rooted in existentialism, or lack thereof.
Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, placing an obvious snag in the two parties' ability to negotiate with one another.
However, Hamas, as the ruling entity of Gaza, is responsible for providing Gazan citizens with a tenable physical existence.
That existence is challenged by an Israeli siege - "from land, sea, and air," Zakaria said.
The siege makes entry and exit from Gaza immensely difficult, Zakaria explained, and makes necessary goods, like food and medical supplies, more difficult to obtain.
Additionally, calls to end Israel's siege upon Gaza are interwoven with Hamas' demands to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza.
Although Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Zakaria cited international law in defining occupation.
"If you control all access points to an area, you are effectively the occupier, whether or not you actually have physical troops on the ground," he said of Israel.
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