RMAs, Hybrid Wars, and the Gaza Flotilla Incident

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When Israel decided to ease the Gaza blockade as a result of international pressure following the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, it handed its Hamas enemy a small victory, at least in the eyes of Hamas and its supporters around the world. The Gaza flotilla incident illustrates, of course, the age-old intimate relationship between politics and war. We could relegate the incident to a successful propaganda stunt by Israel's enemies that ceded a small victory to Hamas. However, we can also view it as the result of the changing characteristics and style of war in the Middle East. The results of the Gaza aid flotilla incident pose serious questions for students of military innovation and adaptation as well as those interested in why conflict in the Middle East is so unpredictable from the Western vantage point. Observers have labeled many of these changes in the character of war in the Middle East a result of a new style of war called Hybrid War—a mixture between conventional war and guerrilla/terrorist actions. Historians and military theorists have also used the idea of a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) to explain emerging changes in warfare. We can observe the Gaza Flotilla incident through both of these lenses.

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This document was originally published in Drawing a Line in the Sea: The 2010 Gaza Flotilla Incident and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Lexington Books. Copyright restrictions may apply.

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