Dec 06, 2023
Dec 06, 2023
The ever so volatile Middle East has traditionally been a dangerous place for the world peace for long and it is once again in news for the same reasons. The Palestinian militant organization Hamas shocked and surprised Israel during the wee hours of the 7th October 2023 when a large number of its fighters/militants breached the Gaza-Israel security fencing and recklessly attacked civilian population and military posts in many parts of the Southern Israel. Almost simultaneously a barrage of missiles/rockets were also randomly fired by them from the Gaza Strip targeting various Israeli locations inflicting heavy and indiscriminate damages to civil and military establishments.
Normally, Israeli administration, the defence forces and Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service) are considered to be very alert, efficient and one of the best, but all agencies were caught unaware and off-guard remaining almost ineffective and clueless for the first few hours in this case. Consequently, the Hamas fighters merrily accomplished their heinous terror task leaving behind a trail of nearly 1,400 Israelis dead in various attacks, besides taking away with them over two hundred hostages, including women, children and elderly people. Of course, this was only a prelude to the holocaust in store for the Gaza people in the form of collateral damage as the Israelis too were prompt to recover and commence a fierce counter-offensive against the Hamas perpetrators.
Israel-Hamas War of 2023
Hamas is an acronym for its official name Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (i.e the Islamic Resistance Movement), a Palestinian Sunni Islamic organization, governing the Gaza Strip of the designated Palestine territory. It was founded by Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian imam and activist in 1987, which increasingly became involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the later half of 1990s, opposing the then Israel-PLO reconciliation efforts, including the Oslo Accords seeking renouncement of the terrorism and other acts of violence in pursuance of the two-state solution envisaged in the UN resolution. The Hamas advocating an armed resistance won the Palestine legislative election in 2006 and took control of the Gaza Strip from the Fateh in a civil war in 2007. Ever since, it is administering Gaza in a de facto autocratic mode and as one-party state. Owing to its violent and criminal acts against the Jews and humanity, several western countries including the US and UK have officially designated it as a terrorist organization, while the Arab states and their supporters and sympathizers recognize it as a political and nationalist organization.
The Hamas does not recognize the Israel as a legitimate state and talks of an Islamic Palestinian suzerainty over the complete territory of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. During the last two decades, the Hamas and Israel have been under constant conflict and fought several wars, including more serious and widespread in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014. On the last occasion in May 2021, owing to some unfortunate incidents in the Sheikh Jarrah and the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, tensions between the Hamas and Israel escalated leading to an eleven-day intense fighting and shelling from either side, in which reportedly 243 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel were killed with many others injured. The Hamas leaders and commanders have time and again reiterated, including the present war, that their Group is conscious and fully aware of the consequences of an attack on Israel and that the Palestine liberation will only come with sacrifices.
In the current war of 2023, the Hamas launched an invasion in the code named "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood" on 7 October with its fighters breaching and breaking through the Gaza-Israel barrier, attacked a few Israeli military bases, Indiscriminately massacred civilians including women and children, publicly raped and humiliated women of all ages, and took many civilian and soldier hostages back to their bases. The biggest tragedy occurred at a music festival where many of these fighter-terrorists paraglided and proceeded to massacre hundreds of civilians, while the Israel was caught completely unaware and unprepared at the time. Withing few hours, over 1,400 Israeli people were killed, recording it as one of the deadliest attacks by the Palestinian militants/terrorists since the proclamation of Israel as an independent state.
The attack has been described as the biggest military setback for Israel since the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. In response, Israel has enforced Gaza blockade and began a large-scale aerial bombardment campaign over the territory before an intended ground assault, having announced its intention to destroy Hamas. The European Union and the US have also called for the elimination of Hamas. Several video clips are circulating on the social media and international human right groups, journalists and medical personnel have illustrated the Hamas attackers’ onslaught and inhuman deeds, which inter alia included the decapitation, rape and burning of women, children and elderly, besides the young men and soldiers, as the US Secretary of State reportedly described as "It's simply depravity in the worst imaginable way". Of course, Israeli political leadership and military soon geared up and have launched the biggest and most lethal operation with a resolve to continue until the Hamas is completely destroyed. In a war of over one month now, the significant events are briefly indicated here.
According to reports, The Hamas attack started during early hours with about 5,000 missiles/rockets launched in various parts of Israel in a short spell. Nearly simultaneously, the Supernova Music Festival near the Re’im secular kibbutz (Hebrew: Cohesive Group/Gathering) in Southern Israel was stormed by Hamas militants, some of whom arrive as motorized paragliders, where at least 260 people were killed and unnumbered people abducted from the venue. During these attacks, about 1,400 people were reported killed and over 200, including women and children, were taken back as hostages. Within hours, Israel sounded a state of alert for war and started counter-offensive against the Hamas in Gaza by the Israeli Air Force. The top leaders of the US, India and many in the Western Europe expressed shock and support to Israel in combating the terror attacks, with the US announcing its solid and unwavering moral and material support.
During the next few days, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) intensified its operation against Hamas blockading the Gaza Strip besides accelerating their evacuation and relief operation to own civilians in terror affected parts. Israel declared its intended goal to eliminate military capabilities of Hamas and end their rule over the Gaza Strip. In the meanwhile, a few sporadic attacks from the Hezbullah and other militant Groups from the neighboring countries had commensurate response from the Israel but the latter has exercised restraint so far in further escalating it. The US dispatched its USS Gerald Ford carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean with advanced fighter planes on board to tackle the situation in case of the escalation of hostilities through a possible participation of the other neighboring Arab countries in the war and also sent the first batch of the advanced weaponry for the use of the IDF in war. The world appeared to be bipolar now with the US, its NATO allies and many other democracies supporting Israel, while the Arab world and their sympathizers justifying the Hamas cause and action.
Contrary to the initial assessment and expectations of the Israel in tackling Hamas, the latter turned out to more difficult and better equipped for own survival. According to reports, the Hamas have constructed hundreds of underground tunnels in North Gaza, many under the secured buildings, and it is an onerous and uphill task to locate and nab them in their hideouts, although IDF has claimed to have liquidated several prominent Hamas commanders. Consequently, the aerial strikes and now ground attacks have continued even after one month of the war. Israel has asked Palestinian civilians to leave Northern Gaza and move to Southern Gaza for personal safety during the aerial and ground operations. Iran has repeatedly warned Israel to immediately stop action against the Hamas, threatening pre-emptive strikes if the latter fails to comply its warnings. The US has deployed yet another Naval Group of the carrier USS Eisenhower by mid-October to supplement already deployed the USS Gerald Ford as an added deterrence against any enemy misadventure in the Middle East region. In the meantime, for an explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital leading to several deaths, both the warring sides are blaming each-other.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has announced that after the destruction of Hamas, they would relinquish control of the Gaza Strip following the induction of a new security. The IDF air strikes and now ground operations with effect from 27 October have continued with the total block of the Gaza Strip including the stoppage of the water, fuel, food and electricity; recently, a limited access for the humanitarian aid has been permitted but, reportedly, Gaza is facing acute shortage of potable water, food and fuel. The ongoing war has so far led to a widespread death of over 11,000 Palestinians and 1,600 Israelis. Similarly, according to the UN reports, around 1.5 million Palestinians as well as over 2 lakh Israelis have been internally displaced. The war has also triggered massive global protests (perhaps many purportedly staged too), mainly anti-Israel, highlighting various issues such as the immediate ceasefire. Prompt release of hostages, condemnation of the actions of both Hamas and Israel, and so on. The UN efforts have not succeeded and their resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire was vetoed by the US in the Security Council. On their part, Israel is sticking with their resolve to continue war till Hamas is completely eliminated. To have a clearer view of the prevailing conundrum, it would be relevant to peek into the history of Israel and Arab-Israel relations since the formation of the tiny state of Israel in 1948.
History: Case for A Jewish Homeland
Over the past few centuries, both the Muslims and Christians have staked claims over the holy city of Jerusalem and have been consistently seeking the blood of the Jews. Notwithstanding whatever logic or arguments are put forth by the followers of the two dominant Abrahamic religions, it is already settled beyond doubt that the Judaism is the oldest religion amongst the three and the Jews were original inhabitants of the ancient Israel and Judah (also Judea or Judaea) in the Middle East Asia. According to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and as assessed by early Historians, David was the third king of the United Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah flourished during the Iron age in the Southern Levant with Jerusalem as its capital. The Kingdom of Judah is widely acknowledged as the legitimate successor to the United Kingdom of Israel, which collectively denotes the united monarchy under the biblical kings such as Saul, David and Solomon in a chronological span of about 1000 BCE to 800 BCE. The Jews are named after Judah with the belief of having descended from it.
The kingdoms of Israel & Judah were established and flourished during the Iron age, and the very same people are considered as the Jewish and Samaritan people of the Abrahamic faith tradition. If we further go back, the Canaanites (Cannan civilization) have been archaeologically attested during the Bronze age in this region surviving as independent or semi-independent city-states. The earliest recorded evidence of the people by the name of Israel have been found in the Egyptian Merneptah Stele (1209 BCE), an inscription by the pharaoh (Egyptian king) Merneptah. Besides, archaeological findings also suggest that a large number of small villages too existed on the highlands of Cannan on both sides of the Jordan River, wherein people lived on grain cultivation, herding and growing vines and olives. The most modern historians and scholars believe that the Israelites and their Jewish culture branched out from the Canaanites in the course of history with a monolatristic religion, which later transformed into the monotheistic religion (Judaism) with single God Yehweh.
During the early ancient History, the Jewish people in the Kingdom of Israel & Jedah had constant conflicts with the other contemporary and powerful civilizations/kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia, and survived as an independent or vassal state for most of the pre-Christ age. However, the Jewish history remained turbulent for many centuries following the Roman invasion during the early 1st century CE. The Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus declared Judea a Roman province in 6 CE, after defeating the last Jewish king, Herod Archelaus, and appointing a Roman governor. Due to oppressive rule of Roman governors, the region experienced several uprisings, conflict and Jewish-Roman war in the subsequent years with significant demographic, theological, political, and economic consequences. After the Roman Emperor Constantine (Byzantine Empire) officially endorsed Christianity as state religion, the Jewish population significantly declined in the region due to forced conversion and migration to other parts of the world, and eventually the Christianity became the major religion in the region.
In the beginning of 7th century CE, the Sassanid Persia, assisted with Jewish fighters, invaded the Byzantine Empire reestablishing Jewish rule for a brief spell in Palestine. However, Romans returned soon again to recapture it and (Eastern) Roman Emperor Heraclius is said to have ordered massacre of the Jewish population of Galilee and Jerusalem and enforcing a ban on Jews entering the latter city. In 635 CE, it was conquered by an Arab army under the command of Umar ibn al-Khattab, who established two military districts in Palestine, namely Jund Filastin and Jund al-Urdunn, and a new city called Ramlah was also built as the Muslim capital of Jund Filastin. In the beginning, the Arab caliphate was not so unkind to the Jews but with the passage of time, the Caliph Umar II made it mandatory under law for both the Jews and Christians to wear identifying clothing, whereby the Jews were required to wear yellow stars round their neck and on their hats, while the Christians had to wear Blue with obvious intention of persecuting and humiliating them. The Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik also constructed the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aksa Mosque (between 691-705 CE) in Jerusalem at the Temple Mount, the very holy site where Jewish temples existed in the past.
With Arab conquest of the land of Israel in the 7th century, the region became a center of intermittent wars for the religious supremacy between the followers (armies) of Islam and Christianity, which became more intensive from 11th to 13th century during the Mamluk Sultanate, with a brief spell of Mongol invasion and conquest. The mamluks were eventually replaced by the Ottoman Empire towards the 16th century, following which the region survived as an Ottoman province until the 20th century. With the widespread consolidation of Zionism, a Jewish nationalist movement, return of the Jewish diaspora to the land of Israel (i.e., Aliah) picked up momentum towards the late 19th century. Following the rout of Ottoman Empire during the World War I at the hands of Allied Powers, the control of the Sinai and Palestine was passed on to the Britain (UK), which committed itself for the creation of a Jewish homeland despite opposition from the Arab world for preventing Jewish migration in the region.
The Arab-Jewish tensions and conflicts were an obvious and immediate fallout of the aforesaid development in the ensuing years, although their cultural and religious conflict and enmity has a long history. Here it may also be relevant to mention that the Temple Mount is the place where in the past Jewish holy temples existed and which along with the Western Wall in the vicinity is considered the holiest site in Judaism. Later on, the place was declared as the Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) with the erection of the al-Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, which is not unusual to Islamic invaders and parallel is observed in India too, where thousands of temples were desecrated and destroyed in the past and some such sites still continue as places of conflict between Muslims and other Indian religions. As of now, the old city of Jerusalem is venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Islam and Christianity as well.
During the World War II, a Jewish army was formed from amongst the Jews, who supported the cause of the British and joined the Allied Forces war efforts. According to reports, almost 1.5 million Jewish soldiers served in the US, Russian and British armies during the period. Consequently, annoyed Nazi forces systematically started killing every person of the Jewish lineage and an estimated 6 million Jews were eliminated (holocaust) in the Europe alone. After the conclusion of the war, the British did not fulfil their obligation, and tensions and conflicts continued in Palestine. Ultimately, under the aegis of the United Nations, the General Assembly passed a resolution in November 1947 to create an independent Jewish state, an independent Arab (Palestine for Muslims) state and the City of Jerusalem under an international Trusteeship System. This Plan also envisaged the British to allow a "substantial" Jewish migration by 1 February 1948. However, neither the Britain nor the UN Security Council took any substantive measures to implement the recommendation made in the resolution, and the former continued detaining Jews attempting to enter the Palestine.
While the General Assembly resolution was welcomed by the Jewish community, it created a large-scale disagreement and resentment in the Arab community, with Arab League members refusing to accept the UN partition plan, which were unhappy with the idea of the Jews being granted recognition for the independent statehood. Consequently, a large-scale violence broke out between two sides in Haifa on 14 May 1948, and on the same day, the Jewish People's Council proclaimed in Tel Aviv the establishment of a Jewish state to be known as the State of Israel. The then two known Superpowers, The US and USSR, immediately recognized the new state of Israel thus formed and the Zionist paramilitary organization (Haganah) operational at the time was rechristened as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Israeli declaration of the independent state also sparked the immediate Arab-Israel War of 1948 leading to eventual defeat of Arabs, flight of Palestinians and more emigration of Jews from other parts of the Middle East.
Ever since the formation of the new Jewish state, there has been a constant conflict besides fierce wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 with Arab countries uniting against Israel. While Israel is a very small country with an area of approximately 20,770 square kilometers and an estimated population of 9.73 million, of which the Jews account for about 73.5%, Palestinians (Arabs) 21% plus and remaining belong to other ethnic groups. Israel is located in a region surrounded by ever so hostile enemy countries, the most which don't even acknowledge its right to exist, and it want to be wiped out from the world map. Thus, for many others, it may simply be a question of the cultural, religious or ideological issue, it’s a question of the existential threat for the Jews of Israel. Perhaps, this is also the reason why Israel tackles its security threats, whether perceived or real, with an assertiveness and immediate response. Where some nationalities and Arab people try to define history too as per their convenience, the author deemed it appropriate to briefly summarize the Jews History including its origin and evolution for better understanding of the readers.
Arab – Israel Conflict & Wars Since 1948
After the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, and prior too, the Muslims and Jews in the region had never been at peace and their conflict had religious, nationalist and sectarian overtones all along. For instance, the Land of Israel is said to had been promised by the God to the Children of Israel (Jews) as per the Hebrew Bible, while Muslims lay their claim on this land citing the Holy Quran. Contrary to the Jewish claim that Israel was promised to the descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Yisrael), the Muslims argue that the land belonged to Ishmael, the elder son of Abraham, from whom the Arabs descended. All this has occurred despite the fact that the Judaism existed from a timeline much before the Christianity and Islam. Many modern scholars ascribe the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict to the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism whereby the Jewish people claim (and aptly so) it as their historical homeland, while the Pan-Arab movement stakes claim on the basis of (preferred) historical timeline of 1948 and present position of the Palestinian Arabs. Similarly, the sectarian conflict refers to the events of the civil, political and armed struggle between the Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Yishuv during the British rule in Mandatory Palestine from 1920s until the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Following the Jewish declaration of the formation of the State of Israel by David Ben-Gurion after the expiry of the British Mandate over Palestine in May 1948, the Arab League officially wrote to reject the UN mandate and the armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq invaded the newly formed State of Israel. Clearly, the 2-State solution was not acceptable to the Arabs, who have been averse to the idea of a separate homeland for the Jews. Almost simultaneously, anti-Jewish riots erupted throughout the Arab world in which hundreds of Jews were killed and injured. At the state level too, the Jewish community heavily suffered: for instance, Libya deprived them of citizenship, Iraq seized their properties and Egypt expelled most of them from the country. In the ensuing armed struggle, despite some initial reversals, the Israeli Defence Forces repulsed the combined forces of the Arab nations, and captured & controlled most of the Mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River by December 1948 i.e., well beyond the mandate granted through the UN Resolution. Consequently, many Palestinians too fled from Israeli controlled areas with allegations and counter-allegations raising inhuman and unethical issues. Finally, the war ended with the signing of the Armistice Agreements between Israel and each of its Arab neighbors in the beginning of 1949.
During the period from 1949 to 1967, the hostilities between the Arab nations and Israel continued unabated in various forms and scale, owing to which both the Palestinians and Israelis suffered. This inter alia includes closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and closure of Suez Canal for Israeli shipping in 1956 in contravention of international agreements. Consequently, Israel retaliated in capturing the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula. Israel agreed to withdraw from the occupied the Egyptian territory only after Egypt agreed to freedom of navigation to the former. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was established in 1964, with Yasser Arafat as its leader, with a resolve to liberate Palestine by destroying Israel. The Egypt and Jordon signed a mutual defence pact in May 1967 and the former started escalating hostilities on Israel’s southern border. Consequently, Israel made a surprise attack and simultaneously destroyed the Air Force of Egypt, Jordon, Syria and Iraq. The intense Middle East War of June 1967 lasted only for six days with Israel’s decisive victory by capturing the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
The leaders of Arab nations met in August 1967 at Khartoum following their defeat in war and resolved on “three no’s” against the Israel i.e., no recognition, no peace and no negotiations; thereby, practically leaving only one option of the war against the latter. Once again, Egypt and Syria made a surprise attack on Israel in October 1973 (popularly known as Yom Kippur War or Ramadan War) on the day of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Jewish Calander, with other Arab countries too dispatching their troops and war material in aid. The tiny nation was caught off-guard, like one with Hamas this time, but soon Israelis recovered to retaliate and inflicted heavy damages to their adversaries. This time, the oil-rich Arab nations also decided to use oil as a political weapon by escalating its price manifold. When the Israel turned the tide of war, the USSR threatened military intervention taking the side of Arab nations and, in turn, the weary US persuaded Israel for the ceasefire. In the following two decades, Egypt and Jordon signed peace agreements with Israel and, under the Camp David accord at the behest of the then US president, the tiny nation agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Gaza strip was retained under Israeli control for inclusion in a future Palestine state.
In the following years, although there have been no full-fledged wars but the hostilities between the Arab nations and Israel continued, with focus now turning more towards the sabotage and terrorism with hit-and run tactics against the latter by the PLO and other such militant Islamic organizations. Some significant events during the period include Israeli action to destroy Iraqi nuclear facilities in June 1981, PLO becoming a threat to the stability of host countries like Jordon and Lebanon and consequent action against it by these nations; a number of major and international terrorist attacks including the Lod Airport massacre, the Munich Olympics Massacre in 1972, and the Entebbe Hostage crisis in 1976 in Uganda, and so on; and preventive & punitive Israeli strikes against militant/terrorist organizations like PLO and Hezbollah in different years and times. Also, the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Palestinian uprisings in Israel-occupied territories) and a series of suicide bombings compelled Israel to rethink and revise its policies and strategy for the Palestinians towards the beginning of the 21st century. Finally, Israel fully disengaged itself from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Iran increasingly assumed the role of a major Islamic power in the Arab world’s struggle against Israel and the Hamas consolidated its presence and took over the control of the Gaza Strip.
Reaction & Response to the Israel-Hamas War
The reaction and response of the world fraternity over the Hamas attacks on peaceful Israeli civilians and subsequent Israeli counter-offensive against the perpetrators have been mixed and divergent hitherto fore. The reason being that most of the nationalities do not objectively look at the global developments; instead, they prefer to frame their opinion and response based on their own political, socioreligious and economic interests. This could be learnt from the classic case of the two Koreas: Traditionally, South Korea has aligned with the US and, accordingly, has condemned Hamas sympathizing Israeli civilian deaths; on the other hand, North Korea is aligned with the Russia-China duo and has outrightly blamed Israel for the current crisis. Nonetheless, right and wrong of the history cannot be adjudged by the selfish considerations of the nationalities. The very fact that the Judaism came about a thousand years even before the Christianity and over fifteen hundred years before Islam in the land of Israel & Judah is logically suffice to justify and establish the Jews’ right to defend self and live peacefully in the homeland allocated to them in the modern age.
Nonetheless, the stand taken and views of the world nations on the Israel-Hamas conflict is briefly discussed here. A number of countries particularly the US and many European countries strongly condemned the attack by Hamas expressing solidarity with Israel. Several world leaders and heads of the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Netherland and Romania have promptly even visited Israel in October/November 2023 during the crisis to express their solidarity and reassure their support in their fight against the Hamas. On the other hand, the countries of the Muslim world have expressed their solidarity and support for the Palestine, expressly blamed Israel alleging occupation of the former’s territories, and citing it as the root cause for violence but none of them made a point to visit Gaza or West Bank or offer asylum to Palestine refugees. A large number of Afro-Asian, Asian and South American countries have called for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation. Besides, several international organizations, students’ associations, charities, and Christian, Islamic and Jewish groups have held demonstrations worldwide in favor or against the two warring parties as per their leanings and convenience. Ironically, many of those supporting Palestinian cause have consciously avoided even citing Hamas in their statements.
The US has officially and unitedly stood rock solid with moral and material support behind the Israel and has emerged as the biggest strength for it to defend self against oddities at world forums such as the UN as well as against the sworn enemies of Arab world in the battle field. Among other prominent countries of the Americas, the Canada has strongly condemned terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas, supporting the former’s right to defend self. Both the US and Canada have opined that the Hamas does not represent the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Brazil too condemned the attack on Israeli people and reiterated its support for a two-state solution as mandated in the UN resolution. Among the crucial European Union nations, France and Italy strongly condemned Hamas citing its action as inadmissible terrorist attacks while extending their solidarity and support for Israel and victims of attack. Similarly, condemning Hamas terror attacks on Israel, Germany has suspended their development aid of $131 million to the Palestine. Among other major allies of the US, both Australia and Japan too have extended support for the Israel.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) comprising of 57 Islamic countries claims to be collective voice of the Muslim world. The secretary General of OIC has strongly condemned Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip calling it acts of murder, incitement and organized terrorism by extremist settlers and Israeli occupation forces while avoiding a similar reference to Hamas in their recent meeting on 29 October and, subsequently, the joint meeting with the Arab League nations on 11 November 2023. While the long-drawn enmity, hostile actions and views of Israel’s neighboring countries like Egypt, Jordon, Syria and Lebanon are already well known, even most other Arab League countries have criticized Israel holding it responsible for the current situation. While Iran is actively supporting and promoting the cause of Hamas, among other influential Arab nations, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait have outrightly held Israel solely responsible for the war.
Of late, Israel and Saudi Arabia were warming up mutual relations; the latter has not been as critical but maintained that the war is a result of the continued occupation, and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights. Individually, only the UAE has been an exception so for, which appears to be not so keen on compromising its 2020 Abraham Accords and has criticized Hamas for its terror action. The members of Arab League (22 countries) have collectively held that Israel's continued implementation of violent and extremist policies is a time bomb depriving the region of any serious opportunity for stability in the foreseeable future. Besides, a large scale Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have also been held by people and organizations not only in Islamic countries but also in countries like US, Canada, European Union nations as also in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with significant Muslim population.
Among the major nationalities of Asia and Eurasia, the Russia has preferred to accuse the US of failing to consider the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people while sympathizing for the victims of both Israel and Palestine without making a reference to Hamas. China too with its leanings towards the Arab world have avoided any direct reference to the attacks by Hamas and reiterated a two-state solution for the Israeli and Palestinian people. On the other hand, India presents a curious position in the current imbroglio: Officially, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made in the beginning itself Indian stance clear by condemning the terrorist attacks on Israel on 7 October with his government’s resolve to stand in solidarity with Israel in their difficult hour. Later, the Ministry of External Affairs clarified in clear terms that they condemn the actions of Hamas but support the establishment of Palestine state. Ironically, opinions in the country are seldom collectively driven by the national interests. The country’s oldest political party (the Congress) has traditionally treated minorities, particularly Muslims, as vote bank with their appeasement policy for the decades. Accordingly, while a large section of the Indians has supported Israel in their fight with Hamas, the Congress, their supporters and a large Muslim population have opposed the government stand for the sake of Palestine without even making a reference to Hamas or sympathizing for the Israeli victims of the terror attacks.
Perhaps there could be no apt conclusion for this open-ended Arab-Israel conflict because for any satisfactory settlement or solution of a dispute, the concerned parties must be willing to consider and concede the legitimate, and humanitarian too, aspects of the either parties. The policy of “three no’s” against the Israel adopted by its Arab neighbors and largely endorsed by almost all other Islamic countries and Muslim population at large in the world, keeping religion at the center of dispute, hardly leaves any scope for the existence of Israel and Jews on the world map. This could be also learnt from the curious case of the religious demographics of the Middle East countries. As of now, The Israel has over 21% estimated population of the Arab community, mainly Palestinians, as of March 2023, with an increasing trend over the years. On the other hand, the Jews don’t constitute even a reasonable fraction of one percent in the Arab world, or at least in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordon and Egypt. Almost a parallel case exists in the context of Hindus in the Islamic countries of the Indian sub-continent, including Kashmir in the democratic India. This certainly gives vital food for serious ponderance for any well-meaning person as to what are factors and reasons for this anomalous position in the Middle East and elsewhere.
There are some other hard facts which also need a serious thought and consideration by every unbiased and peace-loving person. During the ongoing war between the Israel and Hamas, an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians are said to have been displaced from their homes and there are indications that the Hamas militants are using civilians and vital installations like Hospitals as their protective shield but the neighboring Islamic nations like Egypt and Jordon are not willing to even temporarily shelter refugees at least till the war ends – perhaps also a strong reason too for more civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip. Only talking peace is not suffice, this should also be reflected through honest and genuine efforts and deeds. The Jews have less than twenty-one thousand square km land on the world map that they can claim as homeland for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic living, while still accommodating a substantial chunk of the Arabs and other ethnic population. The only mantra to assure and ensure peace in the Middle East for all the affected groups and nationalities is to live and allow others too to live peacefully by accepting the UN mandated two-state solution in the region, where the Jews, undoubtedly, have a case for the Israel as their homeland not only for the humanitarian reason but also supported with historicity.
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More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh