Even as the world was celebrating Israel’s excellent performance against Covid-19, becoming the nation with the highest percentage of its population vaccinated, it was hit by another bout of a chronic ailment, violence on the Palestine Front. The latest count is 1700 rockets being fired at it by Hamas, the latest standard bearer of the Palestinian cause. This ‘relapse’ comes after an extended period of peace, as much of the Islamic world has realised there can be no ‘military’ solution to its grouse with Israel, at least for the time being. Even the present conflict seems to be more due to the internal issues in Gaza, where political rivalry and a proposal to postpone elections have triggered violence possibly as a diversion. The retaliatory strikes by Israel have tragically taken a heavy toll of innocent, non-combatant lives.
The reason given for the Hamas attack is the recent entry by Israeli police into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem to control Palestinian stone-throwers who were preparing to counter marches by extreme right Jewish groups to celebrate the capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. This ‘religious’ cause, which does not excite violence in much of the conservative Sunni states any more, is projected by Hamas as justification for the sacrifice of innocent lives from among their own. This is because, along with the Hezbollah, it has the backing of Iran, which has a blueprint for its own expansionist project. As is the case with Pakistan in Kashmir, Iran and its cohorts are willing to fight Israel to the last drop of the Palestinians’ blood.
Every time such clashes take place, it compels Israel to make even deeper inroads into not just the Palestinian space, but also the political one. This is because Israel does not have the luxury of strategic depth against its active and potential enemies – it needs to be proactively created for every added threat. So, over time, it progressed to declaring Jerusalem its capital, establishing settlements in ‘occupied’ territory, upping its espionage and covert activities and, of course, the nuclear deterrent, while ensuring Iran is denied that option. With the latest developments it has not just killed senior Hamas leaders but also threatened to launch strikes the Palestinians ‘would not even have dreamed of’. Jews and Palestinians, in the meanwhile, are lynching each other within Israeli territory. The world is hoping that wiser counsel will prevail through the intervention of other countries, particularly the US. The path for a ceasefire does not seem clear, though, at the present time. Worse may be coming.