Getting Your Retaliation In First

Nancy Kanwisher: Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?

Thus
the latest ceasefire ended when Israel first killed Palestinians, and
Palestinians then fired rockets into Israel. However, before attempting
to glean lessons from this event, we need to know if this case is
atypical, or if it reflects a systematic pattern.

We decided to
tally the data to find out. We 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 (including all the data from
September 2000 to October 2008).

We defined “conflict pauses” as
periods of one or more days when no one is killed on either side, and
we asked which side kills first after conflict pauses of different
durations. As shown in Figure 2, this analysis shows that it is
overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict:
79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a
Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the
remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day). In
addition, we found that this pattern — in which Israel is more likely
than Palestine to kill first after a conflict pause — becomes more
pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of
nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted
24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of
nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.

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2 Responses to “Getting Your Retaliation In First”


  1. 1 coc January 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I wonder is the fact that Israel is disproportionally inclined to start killing after pauses merely a reflection of the fact that they are disproportionate killers in the first place?

  2. 2 Hugh Green January 8, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I think it’s because they’re disproportionately inclined towards partnership in peace that they need to kill so much.


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