The senseless aggression by the bully of the region, Israel, has surpassed all kind of wanton and sadistic killing known in the book. From deliberate targeting of homes, shelters, schools and mosques to targeting and bombing first responders, ambulances and health crew and even hospitals and schools in flagrant disregard to international law, international humanitarian law and rules of engagements in wars. As of August 2, 1,700 Palestinians, of which 90 per cent are civilians — including more than 300 children and quarter of them under 18 years old — have died and about 9,000 are injured due to the genocidal Israeli campaign. The barbarity is being carried out before a numbed and sedated world, Arab silence — some even accuse it as complicity — and mostly with the acquiescence of and silent support from the Western powers, led by the US and Europe.
All of us have failed miserably, in the test of humanity and standing up to what is righteous. Shame on all of us, and especially on those who have leverage and couldn’t sway the bullying Israelis. Because of their domestic politics, they have become accessories to murder against helpless, defenceless and beleaguered Palestinians who have no place to hide or run to.
After four weeks of free-for-all killing and massacres, the UN has confirmed that there is “no safe place in Gaza”. While the “dumb and deaf” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whom I dubbed “Mr Worry”, has the audacity to equate the prisoner and the victim with the executioner. How can he compare the Palestinian primitive rockets, with no guidance system and accuracy that have killed a mere three Israeli civilians, to the precision guided Israeli-US top of the line lethal missiles and projectiles, which have killed more than 1,700 Palestinians with impunity? Neither the US nor the UN secretary-general, who denounced the bombing of UNRWA schools, have uttered a word of condemnation against the perpetrators of the crime who carried out the deliberate attacks on UN-funded schools that were sheltering fleeing Palestinians from Israeli bombing.
Even the White House sees with one eye and speaks with the Israeli voice. When Hamas successfully captured a big fish an Israeli second lieutenant, who is a cousin of the Israeli defence minister, the whole world was up in arms over his capture and worked hard to free him unconditionally.
The US President Barack Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN secretary-general and his assistants all demanded the release of the Israeli soldier.
The White House, which failed to utter any condemnation of Israel over the scores of its massacres since “Operation Protective Edge” started on July 8, was outraged and called the kidnapping (capturing) of the Israeli soldier as “a blatant barbaric violation”. Not to be outdone, Kerry, who shied away from pointing out Israeli atrocities, condemned it as “outrageous” and the violation of truce by Hamas. While he never used such words to condemn the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians by Israel.
It is ironic that the Arab countries’ outcry was muted. The ceasefire plan that Egypt proposed and was embraced by Israel, majority of the Arab countries, the US and the UN, did not find favour with Hamas and other groups fighting alongside it as the plan did not address conditions and demands spelled out by Hamas from day one of the war, which they call “Al Assaf Al Makoul”.
The conditions set by Hamas are ceasefire, lifting Israeli eight-year-old blockade, opening border crossings with Israel and Egypt, allowing for 12 miles fishing and sailing off Gaza’s shores, release of Hamas’ detainees and the release of the fourth batch of detainees that Israel has reengaged on after an agreement.
Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” with murky objectives. First it was to degrade Hamas’ capabilities. Then after Hamas surprised Israeli intelligence with its far-range rockets, Tel Aviv changed its course to destroy the rockets. Israel was again taken aback when Hamas fighters ambushed them from a network of tunnels killing a few, injuring scores of them and capturing two Israeli soldiers. Israel then termed the operation was launched to destroy those tunnels. Israel was caught flat-footed, and was fooled by the rag-tag Hamas fighters, who have given Israel run for its money and punctured the legend of the invincible army.
This military operation has devalued Israel’s stature as the supreme regional power, where Israel has been humiliated and no longer feared. The lingering legacy of this war, besides the tragic loss of life and destruction of Gaza infrastructure, is the puncturing of Israel’s deterrence power, the collapse of Israel’s military doctrine of pre-emptive, swift war, taking the war to enemy territories, decapitating the enemy mercilessly, swiftly and declare victory.
In this asymmetric war, none of the elements of Israel military doctrine has worked. On the contrary, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions proved to be tenacious fighters and brought the war to the heart of the mega-Israeli cities, mainly the capital Tel-Aviv for the first time, and to Occupied Jerusalem, Haifa and dozens of other cities in the centre and South of Israel. For the first time in Israeli wars with the Arabs since 1948, 90 per cent of Israelis are living under war anxiety and are sheltering in bunkers. Even Israel’s main Ben Gurion international airport was shut down for a few days. This is a new game of balance of terror that Hamas has successfully waged to force a siege mentality on people.
In the Arab world, the public seems to be actively engaged on social media as this writer has observed and have been part of it. They are moved by the graphic and ghastly images posted on Al Jazeera, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram. In contrast, the Arab political class are muted and aloof unlike in previous Israeli aggression against Gaza. Since August 1, nine countries have protested Israeli aggression against Gaza and none of them were Arab states. They are all from Latin America, namely Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela. They either recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv or downgraded their diplomatic representation. Bolivia went on to label Israel as a terrorist state and has upped the ante to the embarrassment of Arab states.
Furthermore, the Israeli aggression on Gaza has exposed the psychopathic face of Israel’s sick and racist society. An Israeli soldier bragged on Instagram that he killed 13 children on one day, before his post was removed! Israeli soldiers were seen dancing as they bombed Gaza and Israeli teens and adults were singing in Tel-Aviv “no schools tomorrow in Gaza because we killed their children”. There were Israelis in Sedrot, which is close to Gaza, cheering form the hill-top as Israeli howitzers were carrying out blanket firing on Gaza. But what topped all of that was The Times of Israel, which published a blog post by Yochanan Gordon, the founder of American newpaper — the Five Towns Jewish Times, on Friday afternoon. The blog, which was later was forced to taken down, was titled “When Genocide is permissible”. It argued: “We are at war with an enemy whose charter calls for the annihilation of our people. Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live.” What kind of sick bigoted society is this? This racist sick behaviour should be condemned not by Arabs and Muslims, but by all mankind!!
Dr Abdullah Al Shayji is the former chairman of the Political Science Department, Kuwait University. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@docshayji