If Israel thinks there is no price to pay for its massacre of defenseless Gazans, it’s badly mistaken. Each Israeli missile falling on Gaza, taking the lives of women and children, is also a direct hit on Israel’s reputation in the Western world. In this social media age when truth can’t be hidden and every action is analysed, Israeli arguments justifying the assault on Palestinians are weak. The Jewish state has been banking on its standard explanation in times like this: that it’s doing so to defend itself. The soaring Palestinian death toll and the killing of children and women, and the near lack of casualty on the Israeli side, have punched deep holes in this argument. Even if there is a truce and the current operation ends, the images of crying children and women would continue to haunt world consciousness, thus strengthening anti-Israeli sentiment and anti-Israel boycott movements.
Along with the unprecedented Israeli atrocities, the current attack exposes two more things: first, the unprecedented disunity among Arabs which has contributed to the operation, and secondly, the failure of the West to denounce the Israeli action in deserving terms. It’s unfortunate that some Arab countries are seeing Palestinians as Hamas and Fatah supporters, instead of seeing them as victims of Israeli aggression. In that sense, Israel has succeeded in dividing Palestinians. Palestinian unity is one thing which the Benjamin Netanyahu government is determined to destroy and Hamas is his key target. Unfortunately, sections of Arabs too find Hamas as an enemy.
Fifty-five Gazans were killed yesterday as Israel pressed a major ground offensive, raising the overall Palestinian death toll since July 8 to 296. The latest Palestinian deaths included three members of a family killed in an Israeli strike in southern Gaza’s Rafah, as well as a 21-year-old man also killed in Rafah, emergency services spokesman Ashraf Al Qudra. Witnesses said the 21-year-old was killed in the same air strike, but Qudra did not immediately confirm that. An Israeli soldier was also killed as troops began an offensive on the Gaza periphery aimed at destroying Hamas’s network of cross-border tunnels.
The international community needs to work seriously to end the conflict. There are reports that Hamas is setting terms for a ceasefire. As diplomatic efforts to end the conflict continued in Cairo and at the UN, Hamas wants prisoners released and the easing of the blockade on Gaza by both Israel and Egypt.
The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is leaving today for the Middle East to help mediate the conflict. The focus should be on achieving a ceasefire as early as possible. All sides need to make concessions to prevent more bloodshed.