Study conducted by: Nancy Kanwisher (MIT, professor), Johannes Haushofer, & Anat Biletzki (Tel Aviv University, professor)
"The mainstream media in the US and Israel places the blame squarely on Hamas. Indeed, a massive barrage of Palestinian rockets were fired into Israel in November and December, and ending this rocket fire is the stated goal of the current Israeli invasion of Gaza. However, this account leaves out crucial facts."
Methods and Materials
The authors asked two questions:
1) How did the current ceasefire broke into the current violence?
Studied # of Palestinian rockets fired in 2008, and looked for the time point at which the rocket attack began.
2) What are the historical precedences for disruption of ceasefire?
Tallied the data from September 2000 to October 2008 and analyzed the entire timeline of killings of Palestinians by Israelis, and killings of Israelis by Palestinians, in the Second Intifada, based on the data from the widely-respected Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem.Results and Discussion
1) Who started the current war?
This figure shows the number of palestinian rockets fired in each month of 2008. This figure shows an escalation of rockets fired from Palestine in November. On November 4th, Israel killed a Palestinian, an event that was followed by a volley of mortars fired from Gaza. Immediately after that, an Israeli air strike killed six more Palestinians. Then a massive barrage of rockets was unleashed, leading to the end of the ceasefire.
2) Which side kills first after conflict pauses of different durations?
In the above figure, "conflict pauses" is defined as periods of one or more days when no one is killed on either side. Horizontal axis: durations of conflict pause.Vertical axis: the percentage of times from the Second Intifada. Black: when Israelis ended the period of nonviolence by killing one or more Palestinians; Gray: the percentage of times that Palestinians ended the period of nonviolence by killing Israelis; White: the percentage of times that both sides killed on the same day. Virtually all periods of nonviolence lasting more than a week were ended when the Israelis killed Palestinians first. We include here the data from all pause durations that actually occurred.
Their analysis shows:
79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian,
8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks
13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day.
This means that Israel is overwhelmingly in charge of escalating violence.
Israel unilaterally interrupted 24/25 (96%) periods of peace lasting more than a week.
Israel unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.
This means that Israel's been more likely to interrupt longer peace periods, without provocation.
A systematic pattern does exist: it is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first following a lull. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.
The lessons from these data are clear:
First, Hamas can indeed control the rockets, when it is in their interest. The data shows that ceasefires can work, reducing the violence to nearly zero for months at a time. (Thus nulling the myth that Hamas is under Syrian and Iranian influence.)
Second, if Israel wants to reduce rocket fire from Gaza, it should cherish and preserve the peace when it starts to break out, not be the first to kill.