Reports

The Middle East still smoulders

Israel and Hamas finally agree to settle on a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. But embers remain in the lives of the thousands affected.

After 11 days of violence, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has announced a ‘mutual and unconditional’ ceasefire, which was later confirmed by Hamas. The cease-fire has finally marked the end of 11 harrowing days of airstrikes, which has left hundreds dead and many more traumatized. Interestingly, both sides have appeared to claim the situation as their victory.

Speaking about the attacks, PM Netanyahu said that their mission was only to undermine the capabilities of the terrorists and restore tranquillity, something they have achieved unprecedented success in.

Mourning the precious lives that have been lost in the exchange, he added that they have caused maximum damage to Hamas and have done their best to minimize civilian casualties. Notably, claiming time and again that Hamas uses innocents as ‘human shields’, Israel was observed flaring warnings for civilians to move out before blitzing any institution in the Gaza Strip.

Though the Israeli cabinet has unanimously agreed on the cessation of hostilities, doors for resumption of the conflict have been left open as well. The leaders have added that it is only the reality on the ground that will determine the future course of the campaign, making it abundantly clear that Israel will not deter from defending itself once again if the agreement is not honoured by all parties in concern.

At the same time, opposition leader, Gideon Sa’ar has expressed his disappointment over the agreement saying that it is an embarrassment that with the best intelligence and air force in the world, all Netanyahu managed to extract from Hamas an ‘unconditional ceasefire’.

On the other hand, even though the ceasefire was said to be unconditional by the security cabinet, Osama Hamdan of Hamas has claimed that guarantee has been obtained, by the group from the mediators, regarding lifting the hand of occupation from Sheikh Jarrah and the Al Aqsa Mosque, the issues largely considered to be the spark that gave rise to the blaze. Invariably, this claim was refuted by Israeli officials later on.

Welcoming the settlement, President of the US Joe Biden has termed the truce a “genuine opportunity for lasting peace in the Middle East”. President Biden also expressed his condolences for the bereaved families, both Israeli and Palestinian. Pledging his full support to Israel once again, he also promised replenishment of the Iron Dome Air Defence System. Along with this, President Biden also guaranteed that the US would work with the UN to provide humanitarian assistance with reconstruction efforts in Gaza while ensuring that help does not fall into wrong hands by partnering with the Palestinian Authority controlled by Fatah instead of the Hamas.

The UK also welcomed the announcement and added further that it is crucial for Israel to facilitate access to humanitarian aid in and out of the Gaza Strip.

France, which had earlier proposed a cease-fire resolution at the UN as well, has also expressed its pleasure over the deal while implying the need for a relaunch of peace processes between the Jewish state and Palestinians.

At a point when a long-standing conflict had suddenly acquired the ability to set the entire globe on fire, the cease-fire has met with a controlled tent warm reception from the total international community with several nations working towards a peaceful political answer. Because be it a conflict or an ailment, suppression is never the solution.

At such a juncture, the whole world holds its breath to see how long it is till situations start escalating again. According to Gaza health officials 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, have been killed and more than 1,900 wounded in the aerial attacks; Israel has alleged that at least 160 militants have been eliminated as well. The death toll at Israel was put up by authorities at 12 as the country’s Iron Dome had proved extremely successful in protecting precious lives by intercepting aggressive missiles from Gaza.

The Iron Dome intercepted over 90% of the 1700 rockets fired by Hamas and proved miraculous in preventing the merciless onslaught of Israelis. Ironically, the Dome not only was a shield for Israel but also protected the Gaza strip, for had Israel chose to enter Gaza from the bottom, the strip would have been attacked with a lot more intensity.

Right now, Gaza also faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding itself while already suffering from poverty and widespread unemployment amid a raging pandemic. According to the WHO, over half of Gaza’s stock of essential drugs has also run out. While repairs take place, the livelihood of the entire strip and more shall be adversely affected. The war might have come to a halt, but the lives of civilians, in both Israel and Gaza, continue to burn.

Irrespective of official figures and data, the fact that thousands will be left with lifelong trauma cannot be denied. No matter who has triumphed, or who triumphs in the future, the innocents who have been killed and the ones alive who have been scarred for life will never forgive, never forget.

Megha Satapathy

Intern, Goa Chronicle

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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