Gaza – Israel Conflict & Resolution

Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
Psychologist - Ethicist
Enmity Expert on the Psychology of Enmity -


Dr. Zur is a former Israeli lieutenant & paratrooper in the Israeli army, who served in Gaza & left Israel for moral reasons. Now he reflects on the current (2023/2024) conflict in Gaza and Israel.

Like millions of people around the world, I have been watching the daily horror in Gaza and would like to offer some perspective and hopeful solutions.

I’m Ofer Zur, an Israeli American, a psychologist and ethicist, and an expert on the psychology enmity. I served in the Israeli army in a refugee camp in Gaza in 1970 and was wounded in Egypt in the 1973 war. These two experiences led me to the decision to leave Israel for moral reasons in 1980. A decision that was highly unpopular at that time.

History has repeatedly taught us that conquering, occupying powers have a terminal shelf life. Israel is no exception. The rather clear and undeniable, ultimate solution is 2 states: Israel gets its 1948 territory and the Palestinians get the entire West Bank (without the religious violent Jewish settlers), and Gaza, Hamas and all.

An obvious current main point of contention is the understandable outrage felt against the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that primarily killed and took hundreds of Israeli civilian hostages.

The biggest challenge is to acknowledge the deep hatred on both sides. The frequently repeated question by Israelis and Jews is “but the Arabs hate us”. The simple answer is “you have to make peace with your enemy not with your friends.” Ultimately both peoples have to find the will to live next to each other, reluctantly accepting co-existence with each other.

In studying enmity it became clear to me that when an organized, well-equipped army with tanks and air force kills civilians, it is called collateral damage. An unstructured army of individual un-uniformed soldiers, equipped primarily with guns and small missiles killing civilians is called terrorism.

I am watching in heartbroken sadness the tragedy of what is happening in Israel and Gaza. Israel’s bombing and destruction of Gaza has killed almost 40,000 Palestinian civilians. This has not eradicated Hamas, but only serves to strengthen and popularize it among the Palestinians and increase its international support.

No solution for peace is possible without the deep, inner personal work required of every Palestinian and every Israeli to come to the acceptance of having to live with or have a ceasefire with an enemy who wants to destroy you.

Israel does NOT have a vote about whether, or not the Palestinians, including Hamas, want to destroy it. The biggest challenge for Israelis is how to live next to a hostile country bent on their destruction.

Israel’s horrific immoral military occupation of the west bank, which includes well documented detentions, incarcerations, harassment, humiliation, killing and torture must stop!

Getting the 500,000+ religious settlers out of the West Bank is not easy but definitely doable because: They have no economic base – $ comes from outside. They have light weapons, which they often use indiscriminately against their Arab neighbors, but are not highly trained in using them. They cannot really fend for themselves. They rely on the Israeli army to keep the settlements ‘safe’ and to guard the exclusive roads to Israel open. So it is doable to force them out from the West Bank (AKA, Palestine). They will need to either agree to live under the ‘enemy’ rule or r depart back to Israel or New York where many of them are from.

Ultimately a Palestinian state will include the West Bank and Gaza. They will be connected via tunnel, bridge or train – by appropriate means, satisfactory to both sides. Again, the main reason for this is simply self-preservation for Israel. As history repeatedly demonstrated, “occupation destroys the occupier.” Gaza will have its own sea-port and the West Bank and Gaza will have their own international airports.

If the new Palestinian state bombs Israel, Israel defends itself and bombs back. Then, in a couple of generations there will be peace, similar to Israel’s current peaceful relationships with Jordan, Egypt and… the growing peace with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Israel with its mighty military capacities CAN protect itself.

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