The Gaza War 2014. Hamas' Response towards Israel in Times of Cold Peace

Bachelor Thesis, 2015

51 Pages, Grade: 2,3



1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Framework
2.1. Theoretical assumptions of Neorealism
2.1.1 Anarchic structure in the international system by Waltz
2.1.2 Consequent goals and behavior of states in defensive Neorealism
2.1.3 Core assumptions of offensive Neorealism according to Mearsheimer
2.1.4 Neorealism hypothesis and operational approach
2.2 Theoretical assumptions of Republican liberalism according to Moravcsik
2.2.1 Assumptions of Liberalism as a basis
2.2.2 Political representation in Republican liberalism
2.2.3 Republican liberalism hypothesis and operational approach

3. Hamas´ provocation towards Israel in the last Gaza War
3.1 Security threat analysis for testing Neorealism hypothesis
3.1.1 Situation in Gaza Strip and the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead
3.1.2 Analysis on the latest Gaza War and its aftermath
3.2 Analysis of inner political tensions for testing Republican liberalism hypothesis
3.2.1 Establishment of Hamas and its primary goals and interests
3.2.2 Hamas´rise from unpopularity to elected party
3.2.3 The conflict between Hamas and its major rival Fatah

4. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Since the establishment of an Israeli state on May 14, 1948 (cf. www.auswaertiges-, there has been conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinian people.The conflict was fueled by Israel´s occupation of the historic regions of Palestine in 1967, which included the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israel. Today many Palestinian refugees are still suffering under the military pressure and of the blockades of the borders by Israel.It is not surprising that the Palestinian people want to free themselves from the occupation by Israel and establish their own autonomous state. That is why the

“ Palestine Liberation Organization “ (PLO), was established in 1969 that saw a military fight and the destruction of Israel as the only options for liberating Palestine at that time. In 1974, the PLO indirectly recognized Israel as a state. The Arabic states liked the idea that a national authority should be established in the free parts of the Palestinian territories. Hence the Arabic States recognized the PLO as the only legitimate representation of the Palestinians (cf. Johannsen/Koos 2011: 6).

Over time, many Palestinian parties were established such as Fatah, who articulated and transferred its interests through the PLO and constituted the government of the Palestinians before the elections in 2006. Hamas, as the major opponent of Fatah, which was listed as a terrorist organization by the international community until today, was elected as the (quasi) government in the Gaza Strip in 2006 (cf. Baumgarten 2013: 179 and Klein 2007: 442). Since then, tensions between Palestinians (respectively Hamas) and Israel increased. After the elections of Hamas, there have been several attacks by Israel and Hamas. In November 2012, Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire. However, both Israel and Hamas launched minor attacks against each other. In doing so, both have violated the agreements of the ceasefire, which still remained at that time (cf. 2012-11/waffenruhe-israel-hamas). It can be said that a cold peace, existed between both Hamas and Israel. Until the outbreak of the Gaza War in 2014, there have been no major military operations by Israel and no major rocket attacks by Hamas. It can be said that a cold peace existed between both the Hamas and Israel. However, on June the 8th, 2014 (cf., Hamas fired large numbers of rockets into Israel and initiated the last Gaza War.The question arises as to why Hamas suddenly began to launch a huge amount of rockets and in the end triggered the war in 2014 and what motive lies behind the provocative attacks by Hamas towards Israel.That is why, an analysis of this phenomenon is relevant for discussion. The research question of this thesis is therefore: “ How can the provocative attacks against Israel by Hamas in the last Gaza War be explained? “ .

Neorealism is one of the most prominent international theories for explaining the behavior of states in the international system. It is able to explain how war between two or more states can occur and how states interact with one another. Its core assumption is the existence of anarchy in the international system in which states mistrust each other and the fear of a security threat arises.Therefore, the theory of Neorealism could be a potential explanation on the provocative attacks against Israel by Hamas in the last Gaza War. However, there can also be another explanation on the provocative attacks by Hamas, which does not look on the interaction in the international system in general, but to look within a state and its inner-political aspects. Can the phenomenon rather be explained by reasons of inner-political pressures through political parties or are there some other factors like competencies between parties which in a way could have had an impact to the phenomenon? Exactly those questions can be answered by the theory (or concept) of Republican liberalism, which focuses on domestic political representations and the competition between individuals or societal groups, which want to transfer their interests into state policy. Republican liberalism with the main focus on inner-political aspects, such as conflicts between societal groups, shall serve as rather an alternative explanation to the neorealistc view of states as a “ black-box “ in the international system. As the last Gaza War in 2014 is a young conflict, there are not many publications on this issue. The analysis of this research question by Neorealism and Republican liberalism requires new contributions to the political science, as there are not many existing publications explaining the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The analysis for explaining the phenomenon begins with the theoretical framework, which will be divided into two parts.The first part will be about the core assumptions of Neorealism and its distinction between the defensive and offensive variant of this theory, following the operational approach and the derived hypothesis for the explanation of why Hamas provoked Israel with attacks in the last Gaza War. The second part will contain the core assumptions of Liberalism as a basis and its special variant of Republican liberalism, which adopts the basic assumption of Liberalism. An operational approach and the hypothesis follow after the presentation of the theoretical assumptions. After Neorealism and Republican liberalism were introduced as the theoretical framework, the following empirical part shall test both hypotheses, which will be also divided into two parts. Firstly, the hypothesis of Neorealism shall be tested. In order to find out whether there is an existence of a security threat, the situation in the Gaza Strip will be analyzed with the focus on the aftermath of “ Operation Cast Lead “, one of Israel´s largest military operations. Then the Gaza War in 2014 and its aftermath shall be analyzed, containing general details on the war and the behavior of Hamas, which shall help to investigate the existence of a security threat and an increase of security in Gaza. To test the Republican liberalist explanation, the establishment of Hamas and its primary goals shall be described and after that Hamas´rise from unpopularity to winning the election in 2006 shall be outlined in order to investigate if inner-political pressures are the driving forces for the phenomenon. As the last part of the analysis, the conflict between Hamas and its major rival (Fatah) shall also be described because it will explain the inner-political struggle and the competition for the dominant representation as this is one of the key arguments for the hypothesis of Republican liberalism. A short summary of the whole analysis and a critical debate about both theories shall be outlined in the end.

2. Theoretical Framework

2.1. Theoretical assumptions of Neorealism

2.1.1 Anarchic structure in the international system by Waltz

Anarchy in the international system is the core assumption of all Realism theories. It also plays a major role in Neorealism, a strand of the general Realism approach. Kenneth Waltz is seen as the leading contemporary neorealist thinker in international politics theories (cf. Jackson/Sorensen 2010: 73). His neorealist theory is characterized by other realism scholars, like John Mearsheimer, who has developed another variant of a neorealism approach which is known as “ defensive realism “ (cf. Jackson/Sorensen 2010: 85). In this chapter however Waltz´ Neorealism variant, “ defensive realism “ , shall be explained along with its basic assumption of the anarchic structure in the international system. But in order to explain the anarchic structure, it is necessary first to define the meaning of systems and structures. For Walt a system is: “… composed of a structure and of interacting units “ (Waltz 1979: 79). A system always contains a structure and units, both of which need to be defined as well. First of all, he argues that the structure within a system is something that is not material and thus can not be seen. It is just an abstraction from a concrete reality. Furthermore, he mentions that a structure, would, despite of personality, behavior and interactions, endure (cf. Waltz 1979: 80). In general Waltz says that “ Structure defines the arrangement, or the ordering, of the parts of a system “ (Waltz 1979: 81). This means, that in a system there must be some kind of an order and it becomes an organizational concept. Before discussing the term of order in detail, the question of what units are within the structure still remains and must first be resolved in order to understand the whole concept. Important is the notion that the units which are under discussion now are constituted in the international system, as Waltz theory is about international politics. What are units in general? Masala, for instance, describes units as clearly separate entities that are in relationship with one another through constant interactions. These units, which are not the only, but the primary actors in this theory, are states (cf. Masala 2013: 55). In Waltz words: “ Structure emerge from the coexistence of states “ (Waltz 1979: 91). Additionally, he mentions that the states would be the units whose interactions form the structure of international political system and therefore states are clearly the primary actors. Although other institutional entities such as large firms (respectively corporations) could be taken as units, too,Waltz argues that the “ death rate “ among states would be remarkably low than those of firms and thus makes the conclusion of the long existence of states (cf. Waltz 1979: 95). He further proclaims that all states would be a sovereign political entity and therefore they are able to decide for themselves how it will act with their internal and external problems or to seek the assistance from other states (cf. Waltz 1979: 96 and Waltz 2003: 37). This is why it makes sense to take states as the main actors. At first glance, Waltz assumes that every state would be equal in respect to the tasks they face. He puts aside the state form. be it revolutionary, legitimate, authoritarian or democratic. For Waltz these facts do not matter and he has considered that states vary in size, wealth, power and form (cf. Waltz 1979: 99). The consequence of leaving aside the form of a state and its constituent domestic parts, makes the state in Waltz´s Neorealism theory a so called “ black-box “ . Waltz does not deny that states vary in size, wealth and power, however, there is one main difference amongst states, which is that of capabilities. States are therefore distinguished by their greater or lesser capabilities they have in order to perform the tasks (cf. Waltz 1979: 96f. and Masala 2013: 56). How less or great the capabilities of a state are, they define also how much power a state has in the international system, because power according to Waltz is estimated by comparing the capabilities of a number of units (states) (cf. Waltz 1979: 98). Power is therefore defined by the distribution of capabilities a state possess (cf. Waltz 1979: 192).

Now that units are defined and discussed, the next explanation concerns the order within a structure. An absolute order might be possible in a domestic political structure, but in the international context, Waltz assumes that first of all, there is a lack of order and of organization. For Waltz, the international system is decentralized and anarchic (cf. Waltz 1979: 88f.) But what exactly is anarchy? According to Grieco anarchy is: “… the absence of a reliable central authority to which they can appeal for protection or the redress of grievances “ (Grieco 1997: 165). Anarchy is also often referred as the absence of government and according to Waltz associated with the occurrence of violence (cf. Waltz 1979: 102). In anarchy nobody is entitled to command and nobody is required to obey.The ordering principle of the system in international structure is according to Waltz anarchy, as anarchy arrange that states have the same tasks (cf. Waltz 2003: 29 and Masala 2013: 62). How anarchy is able to arrange that states have the same tasks and which tasks need to be fulfilled, shall be explained in the following chapter, as it also explains the behavior of states. In the theory of Neorealism according to Waltz, anarchy is one of the most important assumptions, which builds the basis for all the following assumptions of this theory.

2.1.2 Consequent goals and behavior of states in defensive Neorealism In this chapter the consequences of anarchy along with the goals and the behavior of states shall be discussed. Because of the fact that there is no central authority or the absence of government in the international system due to the anarchic structure, states find themselves in a self-help-system. Waltz´ argument is that whether a state lives, prospers or dies would depend on their own effort (cf. Waltz 1979: 91). Furthermore, he proclaims that every state has to put itself in apposition to be able to take care of itself, because no one else could be counted on to do so. This is why Waltz formulates an international imperative “ take care of yourself “ (cf. Waltz 1979: 107). It can be said that in a wider sense states could break commitments and contracts and may use violence against other states in order to reach their goals. And that is why states can not count on others. Due to this fact, there is a lack of trust amongst states (cf. Viotti/Kauppi 1993: 48). According to Waltz, states therefore may use force at any time in order to achieve their goal and that is why he claims that the state of nature would be a state of war (cf. Waltz 1979: 102).This claim is one of the most important explanations on how wars break out at any time.

For understanding how anarchy arranges that states have the same tasks, it is necessary to describe of what states concern for respectively what the common goals of the states are. First of all the primary goal, or what states primarily seek under the conditions of anarchy is survival (cf. Waltz 1979: 91). He also goes further and claims that: “ Survival is a prerequisite to achieving any goals that states may have, other than the goal of promoting their own disappearance as political entities “ (Waltz 1979: 91f.). Adding to this assumption he also argues that the survival motive would be taken as the ground of action in a world where security is not assured (cf. Waltz 1979: 107). This insecurity occurs, because Waltz has made the assumption that in anarchy every (neighbor) state could be an enemy who is ready to attack any time and he adds that: “ In international politics force serves, not only as the ultimate ratio, but indeed as the first and constant one “ (Waltz 1979: 113). Given that, states use force constantly for achieving their primary goal, which is nothing else than survival and that makes the world insecure. In the end, Waltz comes to the conclusion that in the self-help-system, states must worry about their survival, as no one can be trusted, because of the reasons of the constant use of force and the mistrust amongst states due to the fear of being attacked. Supplementary, according to Waltz, survival also conditions the behavior of states (cf. Waltz 1979: 105). However, in order to survive in the international system, where anarchy exists, a state need to secure itself against potential threatening states. This is why security is the most important interest of states in order to enable survival and to protect themselves from potential attacks. Security becomes the ultimate concern of states (cf. Waltz 2003: 36).

Another main interest of states, after security, is autonomy. “ Rather than increased well-being, their reward is in the maintenance of their autonomy “ (Waltz 1979: 107). Autonomy is therefore also in the interest of states and one of the primary goals that a state wants to reach, which Masala for example has also noticed (cf. Masala 2013: 61). Waltz explains the importance of autonomy with regard to “ interdependence “ . But what exactly does Waltz mean by speaking of interdependence? With interdependence Waltz means the condition amongst states, where the parts of a state amongst others are “ loosely connected “ , w hich means cooperation between states is limited (cf. Waltz 1979: 104f.).Taking the self-help- system as an explanatory factor for Waltz argument, he alludes that:

“When faced with the possibility of cooperating for mutual gain, states that feel insecure must ask how the gain will be divided. They are compelled to ask not „Will both of us gain?“ but „Who will gain more?“ (Waltz 1979: 105).

States, within the self-help-system, as explained before, mistrust each other. Therefore if a state has more gain than another, it is possible, according to Waltz, that the one with more gain could use it to implement a policy which is intended to destroy the other one. This is why Waltz mentions that states ask themselves “ Who will gain more?“. To highlight this argument Waltz elucidates that a state would worry about a division of possible gains that may favor others more than itself (cf. Waltz 1979: 106). Due to mistrust, there is the uncertainty of how another state will act and thus makes any cooperation difficult (cf. Waltz 1979: 105).Through worrying about the distribution of mutual gain, states do not want to become dependent on others in cooperations. Waltz assumes that heavily dependent states or those who are closely interdependent in cooperations, would also worry about securing that which they depend on. From these assumptions follows the idea that states would seek to control what they depend on or to lessen the extent of their dependency (cf. Waltz 1979: 106). If a state becomes too dependent on others, it will lose some of its autonomy and in a wider extent it means also a weakening of its security. And this is what states do not want. As states try to achieve more gains than others in order to maintain autonomy and establish security, which in the end helps them to survive in the international system, competition for gains arises automatically (cf. Waltz 1979: 107). The more gain a state has, the stronger it is and therefore the more power it wields over others, which makes it superior to others and thus more threatening (cf. Waltz 1979: 112). This helps a state to prevent others from attacking. In summary, these assumptions explain why anarchy arranges that states have the same tasks, namely security and autonomy as primary goals and competence for gains. But in order to achieve security, states have, according to Waltz, two different ways to do so namely “ internal efforts “ and “ external efforts “ . “ Internal efforts “ are moves to increase economic capabilities in order to increase military strength and to develop clever strategies. “ External efforts “ are moves to strengthen and enlarge a state´s own alliance or to shrink and weaken another state (cf. Waltz 1979: 118).Waltz differentiates between states and declares that the major ones playing the central role, (cf. Waltz 1979: 94f.), because in his regard, major states have great capabilities to achieve survival (cf. Waltz 1979: 109). He then adds that two or more states co-exist in the self-help-system, where major states come to aid weaker states or to prevent that another state will use its power sources in order to achieve its interest (cf. Waltz 1979: 118 and Masala 2013: 75).

Central to Waltz defensive Neorealism is the approach of the “ balance of power “ , which has the purpose to explain the maintenance of the stability of the international system without destroying the multiplicity of the elements composing it. In this assumption of the balance of powers, Waltz assumes the existence of two different polarity systems: multipolar and bipolar system. However the distinction between both polarity systems are not relevant for the empirical analysis and therefore will not be further discussed (for further information on polarity systems cf. Waltz 1979: 98 and Jackson/Sorensen 2010:77). Subsequently, he also calls major states as “ great powers “ , which are firstly defined according to their possession of capabilities. And the more capabilities a state possess, the more power it has. A more concrete definition of „great powers“ is their ability or inability of states to solve problems (cf. Waltz 1979: 129) that is affected by the size of population, territorial size, resources, military strength, economy, political skills and stability (cf. Masala 2013: 64).The reason of why Waltz´s realism theory is called defensive Neorealism, ultimately is that: “ The first concern of states is not to maximize power but to maintain their position in the system “ (Waltz 1979: 126). Therefore states rather want to prevent other states to accumulate too much power (cf. Masala 2013:81). To do so, Waltz provides two strategies that both result in formations of alliances which are called: Bandwagoning and balancing (for further information cf. Waltz 1979: 126 and Grieco 1997: 169ff.).

A typical behavior, which results due to the anarchic structure is the so called “ security-dilemma “. The definition provided by Jervis is: “… many of the means by which a state tries to increase its security decrease the security of others “ (Jervis 1978: 169). If a state wants to secure itself through, for example increased armament or in form of alliances, other states may feel insecure and threatened, which lead that the others will increase their armaments or build alliances, as well (cf. Masala 2013: 77). Jervis describes it more generally. He says that: “… one state ´ s gain in security often inadvertently threatens others “ (Jervis 1978: 170). But according to Jervis the best way to increase the security of a state is by military strength and thus leads to increased armament (cf. Jervis 1978: 182). However in the anarchic world, where no one can be trusted, such an increased armament of a neighbor state evokes the fear of an attack, even if the increased armament only serves to secure the state.The problem is then, when states do not know and understand the principle of the “ security dilemma “ , states constantly arm themselves, which leads, at least, in a relationship of higher conflict, or in the worst case to war (cf. Jervis 1978: 181f.).There will be also a competition of armament (cf. Jervis 1978: 185), because if one state arms itself, a neighbor state feels threatened and will arm itself, as well. causing a strife to out-perform the competitor states.This causes, that the former state, who has armed itself before, will increase the armament even more in order to secure itself, but then the neighbor state feels threatened again and will also increase its armament. This behavior will end up in a circle, where for example both states will have an arms race (cf. Masala 2013: 78). Another important assumption within the “ security dilemma “ is the so called “ offense -defense balance“. Jervis distinguishes between two sorts of weapons that can be used in order to increase the military strength.There are defensive and offensive weapons.The question arises as to what kind of weapons would be most advantageous. If offense weapons or policies have the advantage, it is easier to destroy the army of another states and to take its territory. Additionally, a state´s reaction to international tensions would increase the chances of war. In order to increase the security with having the offensive weapons or policies in advantage, states must act aggressively and there would be no way without menacing or attacking another state. In contrast, if defensive weapons or policies have the advantage, it is easier to protect itself and to hold on, but must be constructed during peacetime and it does not gravely endanger others. It also avoids an arms race, since states would have reasonable subjective security requirements (cf. Jervis 1978: 186ff.). Subjective security means that the more a state would value its security above all else, the more likely it is to be sensitive to even minimal threats and also to demand high levels of arms (cf. Jervis 1978: 174). It can be said that defensive weapons are playing the greater role in Waltz defensive Neorealism than offensive ones, as the goal is to maintain the positions of states in the system. To consider the opposite side of the defensive Neorealism, offensive Neorealism according to Mearsheimer shall be explained in the next chapter.

2.1.3 Assumptions of offensive Neorealism according to Mearsheimer John Mearsheimer provides another perspective of the theory of Neorealism, which is called offensive Neorealism. Mearsheimer´s theory brings a new perspective to Waltz Neorealism. He adopts the assumption by Waltz that the international system is anarchic (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 30), but adds a new assumption postulating that great powers would inherently possess some offensive military capability, giving them the necessary means to undermine and destroy other states. Due to the anarchic structure, no state can be certain about the other states´ intention. States always are uncertain if another state will use its offensive military capability to attack another state. Like in defensive Neorealism, survival is also the primary goal and states would seek to maintain their territorial integrity and the autonomy of their domestic political order. Mearsheimer, like Waltz, also assumes that the great powers are rational actors, who would be aware of their external environment and able to think strategically about how to survive in it (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 30f.). But in Mearsheimer´s variant of Neorealism rationality is more emphasized than in Waltz neorealistic view.

Another main difference between the defensive Neorealism by Waltz and the offensive variant by Mearsheimer is that in contrast to defensive Neorealism, states (especially the great powers) would always search for opportunities to gain power over their rivals as hegemony is their final goal or to be more precisely to become a hegemon. The definition of a hegemon is: “… a state that is so powerful that it dominates all the other states in the system. No other state has the military wherewithal to put up a serious fight against it “ (Mearsheimer 2003: 40). A hegemon is therefore a state, which is the only great power that can not be challenged by others and dominate over all states. The best way is to ensure security through achieving a hegemony status (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 35).Therefore, states maximize their power relative to other states, which in return should guarantee their survival and thus their security (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 29 and Taliaferro 2001: 128).There is also the distinction between global hegemony (domination of the whole world) and regional hegemony (domination of distinct geographical areas) (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 40). But achieving the position of global hegemony is impossible, because according to Mearsheimer the difficulty of this position would be in projecting power across the world´s oceans onto the territory of a rival great power. Launching amphibious assaults across oceans against territory controlled and defended by another state would be in Mearsheimers´ view a suicidal undertaking (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 141). Another reason why a state cannot achieve the position of a global hegemon is that in order to be a global hegemon, a state needs to achieve nuclear superiority, which is hard to reach (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 140). Hence Mearsheimer concludes that the best outcome of a state would be the position of a regional hegemon (cf. Mearsheimer 2003: 41 and Snyder 2001: 152).


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The Gaza War 2014. Hamas' Response towards Israel in Times of Cold Peace
University of Bamberg
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Christian Graf (Author), 2015, The Gaza War 2014. Hamas' Response towards Israel in Times of Cold Peace, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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