PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer

After one of the bloodiest weekend in nearly a year, the Israel military left Gaza today after issuing a series of attacks in an effort to curb militant rocket fire. Analysts examine how the fighting may impact peace efforts in the region.

Each side retaliating on the other

MARGARET WARNER: And for more on what's behind the stepped-up clashes and where this may lead, we go to Saree Makdisi, who writes frequently about Palestinian issues. His forthcoming book is "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation." He's a professor of English literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. And Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, it's a non-profit organization that promotes the Israeli point of view on security issues.

Welcome to you both.

Jennifer Mizrahi, why do you think we're seeing this escalation in the bloodshed, in the clashes between Israel and Hamas in Gaza right now?

JENNIFER LASZLO MIZRAHI, The Israel Project: Well, first of all, Margaret, as you know, it's been going on for seven years, the rockets that have been going into Israel. And Israel thought and really wanted it to happen that it would stop and gave up all of Gaza three years ago almost in hopes for peace.

But the rockets didn't stop. And the real change has been that Hamas knocked down the border between them and Egypt. And when that happened, when that border was broken recently, more sophisticated weapons from Iran and others, along with trained terrorists, moved into Gaza, which enabled the terrorists in Gaza to shoot these longer, more precise missiles and rockets into Israel, putting 200,000 Israeli lives at risk.

MARGARET WARNER: But right after Israeli soldiers left, for instance, today there were more rocket attacks. What does Israel think it can achieve with these retaliatory strikes and these sort of limited ground incursions?

JENNIFER LASZLO MIZRAHI: It's a very difficult challenge. There's almost a no-win solution for the Israelis, because so much is in the hands of the Palestinians from Hamas, which has already said it wants to destroy Israel. So much is in their hands.

But Israel is not going to take the rockets anymore. These thousands of rockets that are coming down onto the communities, intentionally targeting kindergartens and hospitals, they can't take it anymore. And they're going to do everything they can to defend their people.

MARGARET WARNER: Professor Makdisi, what do you think explains the escalation to this point right now?

SAREE MAKDISI, UCLA: Well, I mean, I think it's important to bear in mind that the Israeli occupation began not eight years ago or seven years ago or three years ago, but 41 years ago. So Israel's response in the past two days or the past two weeks or months is an escalation of a strategy that's been continuing for decades.

It's important to understand that it's not just in response to the rocket attacks and that however illegal and immoral those rocket attacks are -- and I think they are -- it's important to be able to understand what they're coming from and what they're in response to and also, most importantly, how to stop civilian deaths on both sides of the border, in Israel and in Gaza, and in the West Bank, for that matter.

Published on The Online NewsHour.

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