Burning Inferno of Gaza
By Asif Haroon Raja
“You know what else died in Gaza? The myth of Western humanity”
In the 48 days of Israel’s unrestrained campaign of terror and bloodshed in Gaza, 14532 Palestinians including 6000 children and 4000 women were killed, 35000 were injured, 1.7 million Palestinians displaced, 7000 are missing including 4700 children and women, over 60% of buildings destroyed, turning the city of Gaza into a debris by thousands of air strikes. On 21 Nov, the IDF soldiers arrested doctors, opened up mass graves in Al-Shifa hospital compound to find clues of arm dumps, and the jets wrecked Khan Yunis hospital in South Gaza. 200 more people died that day.
A Temporary Ceasefire
Except for the US, UK and Israel, the whole world sought a ceasefire. A ceasefire agreement was ultimately reached between the warring Israel and Hamas brokered by Qatar on late evening of 21 Nov, which was to become effective from 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) 22 Nov. However, Israel has shifted it to Friday (23 Nov).
Hostages held by Hamas compelled Biden and Netanyahu to reluctantly agree for a four-day pause during which there will be no air strikes, raids and killings. A humanitarian corridor has been established for unhampered evacuation of injured and for inflow of aid.
Home pressure coupled with pressure mounted by the Arabs-Muslims ministers meeting in Beijing on 20 Nov followed by the BRICS Summit on 21 Nov calling for an immediate ceasefire and end to the war in Gaza forced Netanyahu and his cabinet to relent. The Saudi Crown Prince urged all nations to cease weapons exports to Israel involved in massive war crimes. Ireland and South Africa’s Parliaments were most vocal in condemning Israel and accusing it of war crimes.
240 people including 33 children were captured by Hamas on 07 Oct. Israel had arrested 3000 Palestinians from the West Bank (WB) and East Jerusalem, adding to the total of 5200 including 150 children already held in its jails. Hamas had released three elderly women in Oct and will now release 50 of the 237 Israeli hostages including two American women and a toddler, and Israel will release 150 Palestinian young women and children from its prisons.
A convoy of 1000 ships sailed on Nov 23 from Turkey to the coast of Gaza via Qabras carrying relief goods. 4500 passengers from 40 countries including women and children are on board. 313 ships are from Russia, 104 from Spain, 15 from Turkey. Many people from Europe have booked the ships and the expenditure per person is $1,39000.
Undiminished Resolve of Hamas
While infighting among the Israelis is at its peak, not a word of complaint has been made against the Hamas in Gaza and WB. Hamas leadership issued a press memorandum stating that the Mujahideen are as determined as before to defend Gaza till the last drop of their blood, and have not given up hope of Allah’s help even after so much of deaths and carnage, and that the Bravehearts are still fully resolved to inflict heavy losses upon the aggressors.
According to the news from Tel Aviv, 390 Israeli soldiers lost their lives and 1600 crippled. It is now a known fact that hundreds of IDF tanks and AFVs were destroyed, quite many from 5-10 yards away. At an average, 8-10 armored vehicles were knocked down from 27 Oct onwards, and this figure jumped up to 20 or so once the battles intensified inside northern Gaza. If one takes into account a 6-member crew of each destroyed tank, it can give us the actual soldiers losses of Israel. Daily war expenditure of Israel rose to $ 26 crore and till now it is $ 51 billion.
Daily financial loss is $ 600 million; currency devalued by 8%; unemployment increased by 10%; GDP dropped from 4.3% to 2%; debt burden has swelled to $ 8 billion; monthly salary for the reservists is $ 1.3 billion; 33% air flights cancelled; $ 3.7 billion loss in foreign remittances in banks; 10% hotels and technology companies which add 18% to national wealth are closed; Asqalan seaport is closed and oil refinery sealed; Central Bank has given $ 30 billion bailout package to stabilize currency; in Oct budget, the loss is $ 6 billion.
· Israel’s high hopes of putrefying Hamas and destroying the tunnels within a week of its ground offensive on 27 Oct dashed. Hamas fighters are as resolute as ever and are ready to resume fighting the super power of the ME with greater intensity after the expiry of the ceasefire.
· The high casualties suffered by Israelis, and several Israeli military officers taken as hostages are too humiliating for egoist Israel to show any signs of flexibility and to end the conflict all too soon. After forcing one million Gazans from North Gaza to move to Khan Younis in South Gaza, Israel is now contemplating to extend its ground offensive forward under the plea that some Hamas leaders have fled there.
· Antagonism of the Palestinians reaching starvation and extinction have also further hardened, and it would further increase recruitment in Hamas and Islamic Jehad.
· Netanyahu’s political career is at stake because of the gathering opposition from opposition political parties, religious groups and the judiciary in Israel.
· Changing the regime in Israel will not be a panacea. Netanyahu successor Benny Gantz is among the hardliners who have ruled out a return to the pre-1967 border. Popular talk is of ‘entity’ and not a separate state for the Palestinians.
· The settlers in occupied lands from now onwards would never feel safe and secure and the new ones would think many times to settle down in Israel.
· Yet another development that has emerged is of a religious Jewish faction in Israel and elsewhere, which is anti-war. It has severely criticized apartheid ruling party’s racist policies.
· Majority of Israelis hold racist and despotic regime of Netanyahu responsible for 7 Oct intelligence and military failures and deaths of Jews. They are of the view that Israel doesn’t represent the Jews, who have nothing to do with the barbarity committed by Israeli forces that are Zionists and American controlled.
· They opine that the Jewish community is not a nation but a religious entity, and that Israel doesn’t belong to the Jews, and the Jews do not want a separate homeland since they are already living comfortably in several countries.
· Hamas have managed to break the impenetrability of the multi-layered Iron Dome anti-missile air defense system, but they still have to find a way out to disable it, and defense mechanism against Israeli airpower.
· Without bridging the gap between Hamas and Al-Fatah and putting up a united front, no fruitful outcome is possible.
· Without external support, it will not be possible for Hamas to continue fighting on their own for long. Ukraine has been fighting the Russian forces since Feb 2022 because of the massive military and financial support of the US, NATO and EU.
· Palestinians are unlikely to back away from their demand for an independent state comprising WB, Gaza and East Jerusalem as its capital.
· Occupiers have no right of self-defense, and occupation is breeding the monstrosity. Unless 7,50,000 Jewish settlers shift from Palestinian lands in WB and East Jerusalem, the two-state resolution is not possible.
· The whole Arab world has become a quagmire of conflicts, sectarian strife, and foreign interventions. Tunnel visioned Arab leaders consider the interventionists as their friends and protectors of their sheikhdoms, not realizing that the US-western-Israel nexus treat them as ‘camel jockeys’, and have been milking mineral resources of oil-rich Gulf States (John Perkins), and have made up their minds to establish ‘Greater Israel’, and to neo colonize ME. UAE is still dispatching planes loaded with weaponries to Israel, and Turkey is still supplying oil to Israel.
· Stances of Russia, China, Iran and Turkey will be vital to give shape to future events. Since the US has blatantly come to the aid of Israel despite warnings by Russia, Iran and Turkey, it is yet to be seen what shall be the next moves of these countries in support of Hamas once the war resumes after 26 Nov.
· The US and Israeli regimes are manufacturing lies to justify their crimes against humanity and are doing it for lands, oil, gas and empire building.
· Torah, Judaism, Bible, Moses and Jesus didn’t preach or teach savagery, cruelty, dehumanization, and illegal occupation of others lands. If Israel kills all the Palestinian children, Moses will survive.
· How can a State created for the underdogs of Europe, inflict such horrendous revenge from the people who had no role in antisemitic and holocaust of the Jews, whose lands were heartlessly confiscated, were forced endless migration and misery in their ‘own’ territories where they lived for centuries?
· If the US continues to subscribe to political absolutism, and start acting like God, and start challenging the sanctity and limits of Laws of Allah, sooner than later it will suffer natural calamities, diminish its glory and fade away. (The Divine revelation The Quran – 40:64).
· The EU as Economic Hub aligned with the big Satan and its cat paws (Israel and India), will suffer economic depression. The EU might lose its political alliance, and every country may reorient itself with strategic outreach towards Russia and China.
· ME may experience a new Political Order.
· A New World Order carved out by Russia and China, and backed by the Muslim World and the Global South is in the making.
· Thankfully, human conscience is still alive. Voices of dissent are audible and are getting louder in America, Latin America, Europe, ME, Africa and Asia.
· The policy makers in the USA, Europe and Israel are complicit in dehumanizing Palestinians for the achievement of their mercantile interests. After robbing their lands, homes and dignity in 1948, Israel now wants to rob their dignity in death.
· Netanyahu, backed by the US, wants to take over the control of Gaza Strip and its security for an indefinite period under the pretext of ensuring security of Israel. He has, however, not outlined his vision on how ruined Gaza will be governed once the guns are silent.
· Another option under consideration is to shift Gazans out of Gaza and to settle them in Senai and Egypt made responsible for their settlement duly helped by the West.
· For Israel-US-Europe, Hamas is not an option in the future setting. Similar is the wish of oil-rich Arab States. Consensus will be on unpopular Abbas to govern both WB and Gaza. Israel will not agree to hold elections, knowing that results will go in favor of Hamas.
· Although the option of a two-state solution has diminished, disregarding the aspirations of the Palestinians would prove counterproductive.
· Irrespective of the future sinister plans of Israel, 74% of the Palestinians support 07 Oct attacks of Hamas and Islamic Jehad. They aspire for a two-state solution and a WB-Gaza unity govt but not under Abbas, who has little standing in both parts.
· Marwan Barghouti from WB undergoing life sentence in Israeli prison is the most popular leader of the Palestinians living in WB. If released, he could be a choice.
· Time is ripe for the divided Muslim world to set aside their differences, internal infighting, and stop earning the goodwill of the US and Israel.
· Trial by the ICC of Israeli leadership for massive war crimes and the US leadership for its complicity should be the widespread slogan of all Muslim States.
· The OIC and the Arab League from now onwards will have to earnestly work upon the twin objectives of resolving the oldest disputes of Palestine and Kashmir.
· Their immediate duty is to force Israel to a permanent ceasefire, and to renew the two-state solution agreed upon in the 1993 Oslo Accord in 1993.
· To what good is the Islamic Force of 42 Muslim countries created by KSA in 2018? Its offensive deployment in support of the Palestinians locked up in the biggest open jail in Gaza could pose caution upon the marauding Israeli forces, and can scuttle their nefarious plans to obliterate Gaza and cleanse East Jerusalem of the presence of Palestinians.
· Now is the time for Egypt to revoke its peace deal with Israel, open up Rafah crossing and extend support to the marooned Gazans.
· Syria having sufficiently stabilized itself should activate its border with Israel and make plans to liberate Golan Heights lost in 1967; IRGC and Hezbollah can help in this regard.
· While Israel vies to make Jerusalem its capital city, to demolish Masjid Al Aqsa and build its own Judaism tomb, defense of Baital Muqadas is the collective responsibility of the Muslim Ummah. Defense of the just cause of marooned Palestinians engaged in a resistance war since 1948 is the responsibility of the 57 Muslim States.
· If Turkey could send its forces into Syria to deal with the Turkish Kurds, and take offensive actions against the PKK in Iraq, meddle in Yemen and Syria, provide drones to Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia, why can’t it militarily support the Palestinians by sending drones and other defense equipment?
· The above steps have become possible in the wake of extraordinary grit and valor shown by the Palestinians, and the loose grip of the US in the ME, and increased influence of China and Russia.
· Huge protests of the Americans, Europeans and the Jews and a segment of Israelis and resignations by several US officials are bound to exert pressure on Washington and Tel Aviv to get serious in resolving the oldest dispute.
· Strength of the public opinion in the US will make the difference.
· Boycott of Israeli food and drinks products by the Muslims is having a telling effect upon Israel. If supplemented by oil boycott, and further pushed by a combined diplomatic offensive of China-Russia-Arabs-Muslim States for a lasting peace, will build up the desired pressure upon Washington and Tel Aviv to yield and agree to hold talks for a permanent solution.
The writer is a retd Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security and political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, war course & MSc War Studies qualified, served as Directing Staff in Staff College Quetta, defence attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of the Corps of military attaches, held high staff and command appointments, after retirement he was appointed Colonel of the Battalion he commanded, he chaired Thinkers Forum Pakistan for 4 years, takes part in TV talk shows.