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Friday, 14 May 2021



Dear Readers,

Let me wish all readers a happy Eid. On this festive occasion for the Muslims, the news coming of Israel and Gaza is depressing and has surprised the world. Here is a piece to give you an insight.


The din of pandemic almost overshadowed the recent events happening in Israel in East Jerusalem and Gaza. These events started on 12 April 21; that is the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan, and have hit the news media now, when Ramzan has ended. But this marks the bloodiest conflict which the Israelis have had with the Palestinians for the last seven years and threatens to escalate into a full-scale war. Israel has already mobilised its forces opposite the Gaza strip to intervene on land in retaliation of the non-stop firing of rockets by Hamas on the civilian population in Israeli towns. Israeli’s has also targeted Hamas locations inside Gaza from the air. Why is this sudden flare-up, and who is responsible? To understand this problem in its entirety readers, have to get back to the history of Israel, its creation and the history of its capture of East Jerusalem in 1967and the history of occupation of Gaza by Egypt, Jordan, Israel and finally, the Palestinians. This piece is skirting the issue as it is a topic that requires another article.

There is no single reason for this flare-up, and there is no single entity that can be assigned the blame. If Israel shouts on top of its voice about the attacks by Hamas, it has a linkage to action started by the Israelis at some earlier point in time. Is Hamas innocent and justified? No action by your enemy, which is political in nature, can justify rocket attacks on the civilian population. Hamas is both a militant organisation and a political one. Their militant wing is known by the name: Izza-ad-din. Hamas is banned by many countries, including the US, Canada, EU, Japan, stating it to be a terrorist organisation. In 2006 Hamas won the elections in Gaza, beating the older Fatah party, founded by the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, which is now supposed to be a more moderate party. Hamas has wanted more from Israel ever since they came to power and advocated a more militant policy towards Israel.

The roots of the current problems lie in East Jerusalem, which is well away and divided from Gaza by Israel mainland. Since the Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem, the settlement issues in east Jerusalem had cropped up. As a matter of state policy, Israel wants Israeli Jews to settle amid Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in East Jerusalem. This is a state policy of the victor to isolate the non-Jews population from the city centre. To do this, the Israelis, by law, unsettled Palestinian and Arabs living in certain pockets and instead created Jewish settlements. This has been a matter of contention. The Arabs and Palestinians have resorted to taking the matter to Israeli courts as the only resort available to them to appeal against their eviction. The latest flare-up took place when an Israeli court passed a judgement to evict a group of six Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a township in East Jerusalem. The matter was under litigation for many years. Still, the storm clouds were gathering, and this expected judgement got many Palestinians out on the streets to protest against Israeli forcibly evicting the Palestinians out of their homes where they have been residing for more than 20 years.

The brewing trouble in Sheikh Jarrah was why the Israeli Police banned a crowd of more than 10,000 in the Al-Aqsa mosque for prayers in the Holy month of Ramzan. This invited large scale criticism from the local Muslim population as the Al Aqsa mosque is one of the holiest shrines for the Muslims and shares a common boundary with the holy wall of the Jews. The ban was imposed by putting barricades and forcibly banning devotees from praying at the mosque gave Hamas an ideal opportunity to issue an ultimatum to Israel to revoke the ban or else face retaliatory action.  The final straw that broke the camel’s back was the storming of Al Aqsa mosque by Israeli Police and rubber bullets and Stun grenades to disperse the gathered mob, which the police claims had collected to throw stones at the Police. Hamas retaliated by firing rocket salvoes from the Gaza strip over Israel, destroying the civilian population. Another fallout of the storming of the mosque as the ire of the local Arab and Palestinian population went on a rampage and resorted to violence and arson, destroying a synagogue in the city of Lod, a town 80 km short of Tel Aviv. The communal disturbances have taken the Israeli government by surprise as they were battling Hamas in Gaza.

Amongst many reasons, Politics could be one of them. Netanyahu’s government, the ruling coalition, had to form a government by 04 May 21. The recent elections in Israel (21 March) has seen a deeply divided vote with no party getting a clear majority. The President is to call the block, which provides the half number of 60 seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. While Netanyahu’s party remains the single largest party in terms of seat share, they are nowhere near the 60 mark. (They have 31 seats). With some parties who have wanted to support the Likud party, Netanyahu’s prime ministership is now under a cloud, dilly-dallying over their support. Nothing unites Israel more than a national security threat. And Hamas has provided the same to the Likud party.

The Abraham Accord, which Israel signed with UAE in Mar of 2020 ( refer to this link for the article on Abhram Accord: with the support of President Donald Trump, was a big victory for Israel as Saudi Arabia backed the Pact. It promised to draw new equations in the middle east. One of the marginalised parties due to the Abraham accord were the Palestinians and were feeling slighted at the prospect of being left as orphans by the big brother: Saudi Arabia. A child would guess that they were waiting to get into the forefront by creating any conflict that came their way. The excessive response to the banning of crowds in Al Aqsa mosque by firing rocket artillery into Israel fits this pattern. Their desire to gain the centre stage in terms of international attention would also be a reason for this ill proportionate escalation.

Hamas wants to engage Israel for its survival. Israel intends to finish Hamas as it sees this as an opportune moment. The Abraham accord has shaped new alignments in the middle east, with Saudi tacitly supporting Israel. Both see the recent crisis as an opportunity to meet their respective goals. The western media has been critical of Israel about how they have treated the Palestinians and Arabs in Israel. They have denounced Hamas, too, for the methods used.  The new American government is less friendly to the Israeli cause than Donald trump’s dispensation. Yet, they have been cautious not to condemn Israel and uphold their right to retaliate to a Hamas Rocket artillery barrage on their soil. Even as I write this, the situation is explosive, and unless someone intervenes with Intent, there is likely to be more bloodshed in Israel, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

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