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Averting Catastrophe

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All the experts agree that the planned ‘incursion’ into Gaza by the Israelis is going to be a very difficult operation, if not impossible. Past experience of the world’s mightiest modern armies has shown that fighting those hiding among civilian populations, particularly in dense urban areas, almost always ends in failure to achieve the desired objectives, even as there is heavy cost in terms of human lives. This is apart from the damage caused to the overall infrastructure. The Israeli Defense Force is surely aware of this fact, so why is it preparing to launch the attack? Or, is it just a ruse and there is something else being planned?

The UNO, which has been working with the Palestinians for many years now, is most concerned about the consequences and has appealed for restraint from Israel. Preparations have begun to provide medical and other kind of aid to the civilian population of Gaza. The nations of the world are divided on political lines in their response to the crisis, with many like Russia and China hoping that they will gather more allies from among Arab and Muslim nations as a consequence of US backed Israel’s actions. As a result, the Palestinians are again becoming pawns in the larger power game.

With the Ukraine-Russia conflict having already damaged the world economy considerably, this new, possibly long drawn out operation in another important region is going to make matters even worse. This will lead to shortages and inflation in many parts, causing suffering and political instability in many countries.

All of this makes it even more important that efforts are made by the international community to resolve the problem in a peaceful manner. Egypt, for one, has already taken initiatives in this direction, but what will it take to have Israel stand down? The Hamas tactic of using civilians as a shield is based on these calculations. It has already achieved one purpose of disrupting normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. One way for the Arabs to appease Israel could be to continue undeterred down the path of building relations. This is, of course, hard if more lives are lost in Gaza. So, speed is of the essence. Israel could be asked by all friendly nations, including India, to hold off for a while. It could also be assured that cooperation would be provided in eliminating Hamas by ‘other means’, even if it would take some time. There does not seem any other way to avert the coming catastrophe.