Social Concerns in Sociology

Dying and bereavement all cause us extremely painful emotions, some of which other people do not survive. Not all people are capable of dealing with death and dying and of being left. Dealing with loss is a constant challenge that all of us will have to deal with at one point in our lives. A relative or a close friend may die, and dealing with it may take us years.

It is a totally different story, then, if we take about dealing with loss in large numbers. In this case, death, dying and bereavement is not only a personal issue, but a social concern. For example, tsunamis hit a large town, or an earthquake strikes to totally destroy a country. Not all cases of massive deaths are caused by natural disasters, though. Even our fellow people are capable of executing evil plans to kill thousands of people.

A classic and yet up-to-date example would be the conflict between the Palestinians and the IDF, also known as the Israel Defense Forces. This conflict has been existent for too long a time already, and the whole world was expecting that the conflict has been put to rest, only to find out that after a few years, the conflict is still here to be a more complicated and destructive one.

The Current Social Issue

When it comes to a seemingly-endless conflict between Israel and Palestine, it is no wonder that one will immediately think about the Israel-Gaza conflict. There is a conventional warfare, and a highly large-scale one at that, extending outside the boundaries of the Gaza Strip, which started when Operation Summer Rains was spearheaded by Israel. Gaza Strip refers to a coastal strip that outlines Egypt and Israel. It is a Palestinian City (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

The conflict starts from the so-called Operation Summer Rains. This is a codename used by the Israelites. Operation Summer Rains refers to military operation led by the Israel Defense Forces which they were planning to launch on June 28, 2006. During this date, the first major ground operation was also started exactly along the whole of the Gaza Strip (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

Israel was planning to ruin the said strip, and the actual planning was made from August to September 2005. After Operation Summer Rains, another tragic event happened on November 1. It was another operation for launching weapons of mass destruction, which the IDF referred to as Operation Autumn Clouds (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

The Reason Behind The Military Operations

What Israel wants is to suppress the plans of Gaza. Gaza has been planning a firing on Israel, and Israel’s operations were all part of counter-attacks to shield itself from destruction that Gaza may cause. Aside from this, Israel also launched these operations to make certain that Corporal Gilad Shalit will be released.Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, captured Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25 (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

Having Corporal Gilad Shalit captured was a big part of the whole conflict because during the time when he was captured by the Hamas, the Israel already surrendered to Gaza. There was a conflict between the Palestinian militant group and the IDF for the longest time, but when Israel already withdrew from Gaza, it was not expected that Hamas will still capture a personality and an asset of Israel (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

Researches and statistics show that there were a total of 757 missiles that hit Israel, all of which were coming from Gaza. Bombing lasted from the time Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, to the last days of June 2006. It was from this event that the IDF planned to retaliate towards Gaza. Israel used air weapons of destruction to attack Gaza. The said country used air raids and artillery fire (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

As the operation was taking place, shelling and rocket fire were growing. The development of the weapons was overwhelming, so it was indeed expected that several ground incursions were mounted into the strip of Gaza to attack not only infrastructures but militant groups, too. Even the tunnels located at the Philadelphi Corridor were all completely smuggled. Another overwhelming attack Israel has done to Gaza was to bomb its only source of electricity – its electrical power plant (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

After the attack, Israel announced that there would have been no retaliation at all and no damage would have been done if and only if Corporal Shalit was released as promised. Then again, after Israel has considered all the possible diplomatic means, and nothing worked to fix the relationship that has long been marred, then it had no choice but to execute the plans (Egeland, 2008, p. 45).

Egypt had a significant role in this conflict because the said country served as a mediator. It became a big help in the release of Corporal Shalit. However, this has been possible because of set conditions. Egypt had the power and can effectively mediate between the issues of releasing the soldier only if Israel will free all the thousands of Palestinians it has detained (Egeland, 2008, p. 46).

Operation Autumn Clouds started on November 1 and ended on the 26th through a ceasefire and a withdrawal. The deal regarding Corporal Shalit did not materialize. Ceasefire, during this time, was observed but not quite as religiously as expected, since Israel was still being hit by rockets (Egeland, 2008, p. 47).

There was an average of around 45 rockets a month hitting Israel before the said country felt that it had to do a heavier form of retaliation compared to what it had already done before, hence the May 2007 violence. It was the next major revenge Israel has done (Egeland, 2008, p. 47). To better understand how much attack Israel was receiving, here are two comprehensive figures below:

Figure 1. Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits.

Data from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Aside from the use of rockets, Gaza also used mortar shells to kill the people of Israel. The damage Gaza has been causing Israel was overwhelming.

Another figure below shows how much Israel has been receiving mortar shell attacks from Gaza. These statistics suggest that it is indeed no surprise that Israel felt the need to retaliate.

Figure 2. Monthly Distribution of Mortar Shells.

Data from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Hamas did not hold itself accountable for all the damages and troubles it had caused Israel. It did not take any responsibility for the bombs and rockets thrown into Israel. Israel, on the other hand, did not raise artillery shells towards the Gaza Strip. It also did not fire tanks. Because of this, ceasefire was achieved even after the increasing issue between Fatah and Hamas (Na’aman, 2005, p.29).

The Roots

All the groups from Palestine which were located along the strip of Gaza launched weapons of mass destruction into Israel all because Israel was known to have occupied the coasts after the 1967 Six-Day War. The conflict developed and became worse after the Second Intifida. The Second Intifida refers to a major war against the occupation of Israel. It was headed by the Palestinians located in the West Bank and Gaza (Na’aman, 2005, p.29).

In 2005, the plan of Israel saw it using soldiers and getting it out of Gaza. It also included dismantling the settlements of Jews that have been existent in the area for a long period of time. Israel was still manipulating and handling the peripheries of Gaza, including its airspace and coastline. The only area Israel did not occupy was the southern border because the said area was being controlled by the powers of the European Union and Egypt (Na’aman, 2005, p.29).

After the 2005 unilateral disengagement plan, Qassam rockets were being fired into Israel. The pacing of the conflict indeed grew undoubtedly faster in 2006 following the triumph of Hamas in the elections. It was during this time that Israel was hit with 757missiles, and it was after this event when air strikes and artillery fire was launched by Israel into Gaza (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

From the last days of March to the last days of May 2006, the areas of launching of the Gaza Strip Qassam was attacked with a total of a minimum of 5,100 artillery shells. This was done in hopes of stopping Gaza from firing. In 2005, Hamas declared a ceasefire. However, Hamas did not pay or make up for the damages it has done to Israel. The leader of Hamas released a statement in February, saying that it was not an intention of Hamas to hinder other groups from using resistance with arms against Israel (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

The statement of the leader of Hamas was significant because Israel was pressuring the government of Palestine to put the attacks to rest. Then again, Hamas was associated with terror attacks and rocket attacks used by other groups, including its engagement in its very own attacks, even after having considered ceasefire (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

When it comes to its political context, the exchanges of attacks were a latent struggle in the territories of Palestine between Fatah and Hamas. The supporters and members of Fatah became dominant in the civil service and security forces of Palestine. Hamas, on the other hand, forwarded a complaint because they were hindering the new government’s capability to work effectively. The year 2006 was characterized by attempted assassinations, clashes and violent protests (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

During this time, Hamas did not acknowledge the right to exist of Israel, nor did it reaffirm its allegiance to part agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Because of this, the the Quarter (Russia, USA, UK and EU) and the government of Israel led a financial embargo on the government of Hamas (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

On June 9, Gaza beach was attacked. From this incident, eight Palestinians were killed. After this, an internal military investigation by Israel was started. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and the Defense Minister of Israel Amir Peretz appeared with Israel Defense Forces General Meir Klifi to let the general public know about the results of the investigation. It was known, then, that there were no chances that attacks were able to hit that specific location at the particular time (Na’aman, 2005, p.30).

The following interviews revealed the theories of Klifi, in which he said that the casualties may have been due to an ordinance from the past. It may also have rooted from a planted mine in Palestine. An employee of the Human-Rights Watch group based in the United States named Mark Garlasco said that the damages acquired by the victims from Palestine were not at all consistent with the bombing that came from underneath the sand. Hamas officially withdrew on June 10 from its ceasefire of 16 months and also started to be held accountable for the attacks caused by Qassam.

The Social Impact of the Israel-Gaza Conflict

Figure 3. Map of International reaction to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Data from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On Children – According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, there were a total of 840,000 children in Gaza who were suffering from extreme stress. Because of the extremely violent events that happened, all children were traumatized. It should then be expected that there are psychological consequences that children have to deal with for a very long and almost unimaginable period of time, especially for the children who were in the middle of the conflict between the Hamas and the Israelites (Schlein, 2009).

What trauma can this conflict not cause if, according to the United Nations, there have been more than 5,000 people who were wounded, and about a thousand were killed from Palestine. The United Nations Children’s Fund announced that out of all the people killed in this conflict, one third of them are children. According to Sigrid Kaag, the UNICEF Regional Director for North Africa and the Middle East, the children bearing all the harshness and violence coming from war and conflicts is nothing new. Whenever there is a social and political unrest, it is always the children who suffer most (Schlein, 2009).

What, then, if these children are primarily affected? As these affected and traumatized children grow, it will be more difficult to let these kids know how important it is to be a good parent to their kids, and especially to the future generation. If these kids of today can no longer function well, then what else do they have to offer to their children and their children’s children? There will not be much normal life to live because the circumstances governing their everyday lives are more than challenging for their psychological, emotional, physical and mental capacity.

It is never safe to expose children to house searches, displacements, home demolitions and killings. They need to do what a normal kid needs during development: go to school, meet friends, play and have fun. Because of the Israel-Gaza conflict, schools for children are now damaged. A lot of structures meant to teach these children no longer function as schools because extra buildings are needed to provide a shelter for all the families who were displaced during the war (Schlein, 2009).

Raising children in this kind of environment is more like creating a future and a generation of anger and hate. Because of the Israel-Gaza conflict, even caregivers and parents themselves make an extra effort to look after the children. Psychological assistance is being raised by a massive scale and this is a classic manifestation of how much damage the deaths and violence is causing these kids (Schlein, 2009).

On Students – Students around the world are getting busier these days. An example of an organization where students are exerting extra effort is Hillel. Hillel is known to be the world’s biggest Jewish school organization.   As an organization, there are more than 500 universities and colleges that share the same mission, vision and goals especially in recognizing the Jewish identity of students. The activities of the student-members of Hillel are now being active – all performances, efforts and activities are a manifestation of the students’ support to Israel. These students want to achieve stability and peace around the world, especially in the Middle East (Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, 2009).

The impact of the deaths from the Israel-Gaza conflict are felt even in the United States, because there are Hillels there, too. There had been candle-lit memorial services and new organizations being built to further show support to the victims of war (Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, 2009).

To the World — Generally, the immediate effect of wars and conflicts in the society at large is that it causes large-scale damage to nations. A war is always possible if and only if there are two opposing parties who disagree. Because of the opposing parties, it automatically means, too, that there are opposing views. In this case, Israel and Gaza are not the only opposing parties, but their people, too. The supporters of each party also oppose each other.

It is safe to say, then, that this whole culture of war breeds a whole new chain of hatred and violence. People give birth, while more people get killed. The future is definitely at stake, for when people are killed, resources become emptier than ever. It is through these people that economic bases became possible. It is through these people who kept the society moving. It is through these people who make this world a better place to live in. That being said, every life is worth taking care of, because every life is a big contribution to the betterment of human life.

The Importance of Research

Researching is a very important factor when it comes to social issues. People watch the news, read the papers, browse the Internet and learn about social issues. Then again, these methods are not enough even when these are all but part of research. Before a media outfit even releases news about a social concern, for example, the Israel-Gaza conflict, the reporter should research first and make sure that he gets his facts right before airing his news over the television.

Researching is important because it gives us a space to discern our opinions and thoughts. It is a method by which an average-reasonable individual is given options as to what viewpoint to believe in. After all options are weighed, it is expected that a person assesses his thoughts and come up with a rational perspective. He then helps fight for a cause, or fight for what he thinks is right. Basically, the importance of research is to start a change. Research is the key to awareness, and awareness is the road to determine what has to be changed. Research erases ignorance and indifference. It makes the people know about the issue. It makes the citizens act, because researches show something that people need to know especially when it comes to public concern.

Additional Conflicts

It is also a vital part of the whole research procedure to know the advantages and disadvantages, what-could-have-beens, plan As and step 1s of supporting one side. It is expected that more conflicts and more problems will be discovered, but all these revelations are all equally important in helping the people decide about which side they think is ride, and what cause they think is right to protect.

A conflict, be it intentional or unintentional, can be seen in the Israel-Gaza war because this has also been a war of religion.  Muslims and Jews suffer from unrest, too, and from opposing opinions regarding beliefs, principles and spiritual views. The students of Hillel are automatically in conflict with the other Muslim students of the world. Israel and Gaza did not intent to create this conflict. The two parties did not get into this whole fight to cause unrest in the academe. Social issues that are concerned with death, dying and bereavement are issues that help people let out their most painful emotions. As a person gets more depressed by the second, the conflict grows deeper, too. The opposing party appears to be more unforgivable, and the social issue will most likely remain a social issue for as long as it possibly can.

References

Auerswald, P., C. Duttweiler and Garofano, J. (2003). Clinton’s Foreign Policy: A

Documentary Record. Kluwer Law International.

Bleaney, C. H. (2008). Israel and the West  Bank and Gaza Strip. Clio Press.

Egeland, J. (2008). A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity.

Simon and Schuster.

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. (2 February 2009). Students Around the

World Respond to Gaza Conflict. Retrieved 15 February 2009 from

http://www.hillel.org/about/news/2009/feb/gaza_crisis_response_worldwide_2009.htm.

Na’aman, N. (2005). Ancient Israel and Its Neigbhors: Interaction and Counteraction –

Collected Essays. EISENBRAUNS.

Schlein, L. (16 January 2009). UN: Gaza Conflict Will Have Long-Lasting Psychological

Effect on Children. Voice of America. Retrieved 15 February 2009 from

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-01-16-voa63.cfm.