WALTHAM — The international community will have to step in to broker a cease-fire to end the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, a Princeton University professor visiting Waltham said yesterday.
"There's going to be international mediation to end this conflict," said Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University.
Jamal's comments were part of a panel discussion at Brandeis University yesterday called Tragedy in Gaza: Comparing Narratives.
The cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas-led government in Gaza ended on Dec. 19, Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel beginning Dec. 24.
In response, Israel launched air strikes into Gaza on Dec. 27. On Jan. 1, Israel launched a ground offensive into Gaza.
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its offensive. Meanwhile, 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed since the beginning of the campaign, reports said yesterday. Of the Palestinians killed, more than 400 were women and children.
"That can't be justified," Jamal said of the civilian casualties.
Jamal, who presented the Palestinian narrative in the discussion, said Hamas leaders may stiffen their resolve and not accept any immediate cease-fire offering given that the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is next week.
"What (Hamas thinks) is that the Obama administration will come in and force Israel to stop," Jamal said.
Shai Feldman, a professor at Brandeis and director for the Crown Center of Middle East Studies, said that if Israel engages in talks with Hamas, then Hamas could be seen as the "master of Gaza," which could hamper the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority.
Feldman said the conflict is really three wars in one: Hamas against Israel, Hamas versus the rival Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and between pro- and anti-Iran coalitions within the Arab world and Israel.
Feldman said Israel is looking to establish a total cease-fire, protect its citizens from being targeted by attacks, stamp out Hamas' arms smuggling and protect Gaza crossings.
Feldman said whatever the outcome is of any upcoming cease-fire negotiations, Hamas will claim they have gained the upper hand.
"Whatever the outcome, Hamas will declare victory," Feldman said.
Reports yesterday indicated Hamas was considering accepting a Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.
But even if and when a cease-fire is reached, the issue of Palestinian statehood remains. Following the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006, Jamal pointed out that a poll of Palestinians showed 72 percent were in favor of a two-state solution.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Richard Conn can be reached at 781-398-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.