Peace: Lasting if not everlasting!

As usual, the victims are the common people, and the prospects for peace are receding further. The history of the region indicates that there will likely never be any lasting peace there, and that’s a real tragedy for all the suffering people

By TP Saran

As if the Ukraine-Russia war was not enough, now the world is faced with a second major war front that has opened up, between Israel and the Hamas. The trigger was the unexpected and unprecedented attack by the Hamas organisation on civilians on October 7, resulting in the death of 1400 Israelis (men, women, many elderly as well as babies) and 200 being taken hostage. Israel, battling in the throes of a constitutional crisis for several months, was taken completely unawares, as its intelligence services failed to detect this murderous onslaught, and the armed forces took nearly 24 hours to respond.

However, as soon as the country recouped under a government of national unity and got into action, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), as was to be expected, has reacted vehemently. Israeli warplanes have pummeled the blockaded strip with an intensity that its war-weary residents had never experienced, reports AP. ‘The airstrikes have killed over 1,100 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Officials have not said how many civilians are among the dead, but aid workers warn that Israel’s decision to impose a “complete siege” on the crowded enclave of 2.3 million people is spawning a humanitarian catastrophe that touches nearly every one of them.’

In fact, Israel is pounding Gaza with the avowed objective of completely eradicating Hamas by attacking both its overground and underground infrastructure that harbours its leaders, arms manufacturing units, living quarters, rocket launching and other facilities.

The tunnels make up a total of 500 km and are meant for the use of Hamas solely – the rest of the population of about 2.1 million Palestinians are not allowed access to this fortified subterranean maze where the Hamas are said to both hide and operate from.

There is thus already an internal discrimination existing between these two components of the Gaza strip, which is under the control of Hamas since it won the elections in that area. This implies that they are responsible for the overall welfare and development of the Gaza as they receive funding to the tune of billions of dollars from various international sources. However, it is contended that instead they have been using this money to maintain and consolidate further their underground tunnels, known as the Gaza metro, thus leaving the people in a state of chronic poverty.

Ever since the war has erupted there has been an avalanche of articles and analyses of the historical aspects of the Israel-Palestine issue, about the validity of their very existence and the various attempts to establish peace between these two entities. The quasi-iconic Oslo Accord that was signed by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in the presence of President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s was short-lived, as terrorist acts began to be perpetrated afresh. The political power tussle over who is actually in control of Palestine – the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas didn’t help either.

Everything points to this war being a protracted one, like the Ukraine-Russia war which was initially presumed to be a quick affair, but has now entered its second year with no end in sight in a foreseeable future. Media coverage of it has already been relegated to the background as the Israel-Hamas war now dominates the headlines. Israel has accused the western media, in particular the BBC and the New York Times, of bias against it in their reporting, a mix of misinformation and disinformation with a tilt against Israel. 

The Israeli authorities have even accused the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres of similar bias in his speech about the conflict and have averred that he should resign as in their view he is not fit to lead the UN. The UN is supposed to prevent atrocities from happening in its member states and has failed to do so – this is the charge levelled against it.

The greatest danger is that this war develops in a full-blown regional conflict what with the entry of the other parties that support Hamas, such as the Hezbollah and Iran, with the former already launching attacks on Israel from south Lebanon. The US has sent aircraft carriers to support Israel, and Hamas itself is receiving widespread support from the Arab world.

Meanwhile, Israel has allowed humanitarian aid to enter Gaza though a corridor in Rafah on the Egypt–Gaza border. At the same time, though, both Egypt and Jordan have categorically affirmed that they will not accept Palestinian refugees in their respective countries given their past experiences with the latter.

Alas, as usual, the victims are the common people, and the prospects for peace are receding further. The history of the region indicates that there will likely never be any lasting peace there, and that’s a real tragedy for all the suffering people.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 27 October 2023

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