It was a bloody Sunday for Palestinians. At least 100 of them were killed yesterday and hundreds injured as Israeli tanks continued their death march through Gaza streets. Israel is out to inflict maximum damage on Gaza and snuff out maximum lives before a ceasefire is agreed. The Israeli military also suffered one of its worst combat days yesterday, with the death of at least 13 troops in battle and an unconfirmed claim from Hamas that it had kidnapped a soldier inside Gaza. At the same time, diplomatic efforts intensified for a truce in which Qatar is playing a significant role. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are in Doha to discuss a ceasefire. Both leaders met the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the Foreign Minister H E Dr Khalid Al Attiyah and addressing a press conference later, Al Attiyah spelt out Qatar’s role in the negotiations. He said Doha was only conveying the Palestinian demands, which he said must include the opening of Gaza’s border crossing points with Egypt and Israel.
Meanwhile, as the war rages, one story that has gone viral on social media is that of Israelis gathering on hillsides to celebrate the bombing of Gaza. “As the sun begins to sink over the Mediterranean, groups of Israelis gather each evening on hilltops close to the Gaza border to cheer, whoop and whistle as bombs rain down on people in a hellish warzone a few miles away,” writes a Guardia reporter from the scene. The report is a ghastly example of the insensitivity of Israelis to the plight of innocent Palestinians, and the extent to which right-wing groups have been able to radicalise Israelis. In another equally shocking, dehumanising case, an Israeli soldier has sparked outrage by posting on Instagram the photograph of a Palestinian boy’s head in the crosshairs of his sniper rifle. This image too went viral, forcing Israeli military to investigate the incident. Similar violations in the past by Israeli soldiers have resulted only in symbolic punishments by the military leaders.
But long after this war ends, the images of these celebrations will continue to haunt Israel and will boomerang on it. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu might win this war by killing hundreds of Palestinians, but it has already lost the public relations war. This is a military operation in which Israel has been cast as a villain by the Western media. The huge turnout in anti-Israel demonstrations in London and Paris testify to this fact. Israel can ignore these global messages only at its own peril, despite all the support it has been receiving from the right-wing American media.