Even if Israel claims complete victory in its war against Hamas, it’s certain to lose another one, which is equally important: the battle for the support of the international community, especially the West. The clearest indication of this impending loss has come from an important person — British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Hammond was speaking for his continent when he said that Western nations are losing sympathy for Israel as casualties mount from its military operation in Gaza. Speaking on his first official visit to the region since taking over as Britain’s foreign affairs chief, he said: “As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel. That’s simply a fact and I have to tell that to my Israeli counterparts.” The message was blunt and unusual, if only Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would listen.
In another significant development, several Canadian scholars criticized their government for taking a decisively pro-Israel position, saying it “discredits Canada.” In an open letter published in the leading Canadian daily Globe and Mail, they said they “are profoundly perturbed by the unbalanced and partisan position adopted by the Canadian government and federal political parties regarding the current violence in Gaza.” Importantly, all these voices of dissent are coming after huge protests in several European capitals against the Israeli aggression, participation in which has surpassed previous records.
As the death toll of Palestinians soars in the conflict, those who blindly support Israel are forced to rethink their positions as ghastly and gory images of innocent children and women dying in the shelling are beamed on television channels across the world. In this charged atmosphere, not everybody is ready to buy the lame Israeli argument that it’s defending itself. The disproportionate Palestinian deaths, the UN condemnation and the UN human rights chief’s statement that Israel could be committing war crimes have portrayed Palestinians as the hapless victims of this conflict, and Israel as a mindless villain which considers itself above all international law.
The Netanyahu government thinks that victory demands the killing of as many Palestinians as possible. Around 750 people have died so far. Yesterday, more than 15 were killed and 200 injured in a strike on a UN school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of displaced civilians. A British newspaper wrote that the international scrutiny of Israel’s assault has intensified with this missile attack.
A ceasefire still looks a bit distant, though efforts are on to find one. But as this war ends, Israel will move closer to a pariah status in the world, with vital support which the Jewish state has taken for granted until now slipping away from under its feet.