by Mohammad Amjad Hossain
The Middle East is on fire as can be seen from clashes between Israeli security forces and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip for the past few days which heaped untold misery on Palestinians in Gaza. The deadly confrontation arouse out of the finding of three murdered Israeli-kidnapping teenagers and a Palestinian teenager being killed in revenge by Israeli. Without making any independent investigation of the murder of three Israeli teenagers, blame was showered on Hamas in the Gaza Strip by Israel for the murder. Hamas is considered by Israel and its allies a terrorist organisation which reportedly does not believe in the existence of Israel. As a result, Israeli defence forces have launched the attack on Hamas. Hamas, on the other hand, as usual launched a wave of rocket attacks that struck deep into Israel than ever before. According to Israeli sources, two rockets hit Jerusalem, the first time Hamas rockets have reached the city, and at least one was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system over Tel Aviv which was built with substantial financial and technical support from the United states. The cost would likely to exceed $900 million of American taxpayers. Another interesting development is that Hamas has succeeded to reach the city of Dimona with a specific goal of targeting Israeli nuclear weapon facilities but no destruction was caused .Israeli authorities did neither confirm the report nor denied the attack by Hamas on nuclear weapon facilities. As of now, Israel officially did not declare the existence of nuclear weapons facilities.
As reported in US news media, Israel launched its most aggressive air strikes in 20 months in July 8–9 attacking at least 486 targets in an effort to degrade Hamas’s arsenal. As of July 13, three quarters of dead in Gaza are civilians including children, according to an estimate of the United Nations. The death toll reached 194 and at least 1,400 were wounded. It means that the death toll is now greater than the number of people killed in the Gaza Strip in the 2012 conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Pierre Kranhenbuki, reportedly called on ‘Israel to put an end to attacks against or endangering civilians and civilian infrastructure which are contrary to international humanitarian law.’ There are 17,000 refugees living in 20 schools in Gaza and air strikes have damaged 47 of its buildings, including clinics, schools and warehouses.
The call by the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees would likely to fall flat on Israeli authorities as they have not honoured any resolution by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations since the war between Israel and Arab countries in 1967.
It is worth noting that Israel has rejected an offer by the US president, Barack Obama, for a cease-fire proposal while Israeli authorities have accepted the proposal by the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The Egyptian proposal contains that all sides should cease hostilities in Gaza, calls for the opening of border crossing as soon as security situation is stable followed by high-level talks to resolve the existing crisis. The link between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has been snapped since the departure of Mohammed Morsi, the elected president of Egypt by the military coup in 2013. However, the cease-fire has fallen apart on July 15 since Hamas did not accept. The situation is back to square one.
It is regrettable to note that the Obama administration stepped away from the conflict in May when its the peace talk it brokered has failed. ‘US administration needs to use its influence to de-escalate this conflict’ as stated by the Washington Post. In Iraq, the speed and scale of the chaos that the Sunni-dominated Islamic state of Iraq and Syria has spread is unthinkable and, indeed, demoralising the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia prime minister. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS, meanwhile, declared himself caliph Ibrahim and leader of all Muslims and urged them to launch a jihad against enemies of Allah.
Having seen this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is privately encouraging its allied tribes in Iraq to turn against the Sunni insurgency, which could help to calm sectarian tension underpinning the uprising, according to a report appearing in Wall Street Journal on July 10. The king of Saudi Arabia, in fact, sees the rising of militant Islamic group as inimical to the existence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A vast swath of territory in Iraq and Syria is under the occupation of ISIS.
The civil war that began in Syria when protests against the president Bashar al-Assad broke out in March, 2011 continues unabated with no sign of compromise between the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and militant groups. International negotiations in Geneva in February have failed to resolve the crisis as the al-Assad regime refused to discuss the formation of an interim government until general elections. As of now, Turkey is providing shelter to 6,67,636 Syrian refugees, Jordan 5,88,979, Lebanon 10,01,276, Egypt 1,34,914 while 19,697 took shelter in North Africa. This is not the end of misery of Syrian. As Syria is in turmoil, 1,00,000 have been killed. Syrian turmoil is turned out to be the greatest tragedy of mankind in the twenty-first century.
The decade-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a chronic problem in the Middle East. It needs to be resolved once and for all for the peace in the region. The US Congress should not see through the prism of Israel. No justice will be done to either Palestinians or Israelis if the Congress looks through the prism of Israel, not independently.
The non-binding resolution by the House of Representatives of July 14 is a point which extended US support for Israeli’s defence of its citizens and condemning unprovoked Palestinian rocket fire while ignoring the fact that Israel dropped around 2,000 tonnes of bombs in the Gaza Strip. This one-eyed resolution is in no way helpful in resolving the decades-long conflict in the Middle East. Blindly embracing Israel by America is a regional sore point that has spoilt relations between the Arab world and America. There is hardly any need to emphasise that the international community should take concrete steps towards ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Mohammad Amjad Hossain, a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former president of Toastmaster International Club of America, writes from Virginia.