Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Gaza May 5, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS

Weeks of tense quiet along the Gaza Strip border exploded into violence as Israel pounded the Hamas-ruled enclave in the heaviest strikes in months.

Ten Palestinians and an Israeli man were killed as the fighting that began Friday persisted into Sunday morning.

A Palestinian baby and her pregnant mother were among the dead.


While it is the worst fighting seen for some time, it is unlikely to turn into a bigger war as Hamas is very weak at the moment, and Israel is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.

Neither side is interested in an escalation.

However, the indiscriminate use of force by Israel is yet another reminder for its complete disregard for international law. Israel has launched two gruelling assaults on Gaza in 2009 and 2014, killing thousands.

Despite statements issued by the UN about Israeli complicity in possible war crimes, there has been little to no consequences for its actions.

Besides being slapped on the wrist by UN-crafted statements, the US, its main backer, continues to shower Israel with billions of dollars in foreign aid.

In fact, 2018 was one of the bloodiest years since the two wars, with approximately 248 Palestinians killed by Israeli snipers and over 6,000 wounded in Gaza.

There are few places in the world that a so-called first world country would be able to get away with shooting dead peaceful protesters, but Israel has proved time and time again that it is above international law, has smugly dismissed criticisms, and attacked people and organisations that dare to criticise.

The cowardice and complacency of the international community have gone on far too long — too many innocent Palestinians have been killed without the slightest repercussions. Several war crimes probes have been blocked by the US and Israel.

While the US is known to be Israel’s chief political ally and financial backer and a reliable user of the veto at the UN Security Council to shield Israel from international scrutiny, Western nations must unite and act against Israel’s blatant crimes.

The international community needs to do more than issue statements of "concern".

The Palestinians need more than words to give them a shred of hope and assurance that their lives matter.

The latest flare-up needs to be watched carefully, and dialogue must prevail to prevent a descent into an all-out war.

Mediation efforts by Egypt should be supported, and Israel should be pressured by the international community to curb its flagrant violations of international law.