Weekly Commentary: Pitfalls of Third-Party Forces in Post-War Gaza
Dr. Aaron Lerner 2 November 2023
Discussions regarding third-party forces in post-war Gaza don't take place
in a vacuum. We have considerable experience with such forces already in our
The following is an exhaustive list of the priorities of any third-party
force deployed in post-war Gaza, in descending order:
Priority #1: Complete the tour of duty with a minimum of casualties to the
Priority #2: Serve the interests of the countries of origin of the force.
Some practical ramifications of these priorities:
#1. Commanders of third-party forces on the ground, much like prison
wardens, avoid conflicts which may lead to casualties for their force and
heavily discount the importance of the consequences of conflict avoidance on
the situation on the ground beyond the period of their own tour of duty.
#2. The overarching interest of each country of origin of the force would be
that the force's actions in the Gaza Strip don't impinge on its relations
with other countries while serving the programs that the country supports.
Lax enforcement can only, at most, sour relations with Israel, while serious
enforcement can readily lead to blow-back beyond Gaza's borders. Besides lax
enforcement, the interests of the countries of origin may also be served by
underreporting, if not completely ignoring, violations.
Yes, completely ignore violations. Consider the American precedent: when
Congress mandated that funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA) be subject
to an annual report that the PA honored the provisions of the Oslo Accords,
the American authorities simply closed their eyes and reported that the PA
was in full compliance.
While a one- or two-kilometer-deep sterile zone within the Gaza Strip would
significantly enhance Israel's security, this would not offset the potential
threat of a terror state exploiting the human and diplomatic shields of
And there isn't some magic combination of "ironclad guarantees" to overcome
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