Hamas’ attack on Israel through various points across the Israel-Gaza border last month has precipitated the coming of another war in the Middle East. Israel is one bigger anomaly in the geopolitics of the Middle East. It was not recognized by many countries of the region until very recently.
Even now, some of the big powers in the region like Iran and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have not recognized it. KSA may do so in the future under the condition that the current conflict in Gaza does not escalate, but the recognition of Israel by Iran is out of question. The whole military machine of Iran is developed to take on the Zionist threat from Israel and its Muslim-Sunni allies in the region.
In the aftermath of the Hamas’ attack on Israel, the world has seen some of the worst human rights abuses in a conflict situation. Israeli Defence Forces are carrying out indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza strip without any care for the civilians being killed as collateral.
According to the latest reports from international media the total number of civilians killed during the conflict has exceeded 14,000 with majority being women and children. Israel for its part is adamant on carrying out a ground offensive of Gaza to neutralize the threat being posed to its security by Hamas. For that it is preparing to clear out the known locations from where Hamas is operating like the strike on Al-Ahli Al-Arabi hospital last month.
In a desperate attempt to take revenge for its own failure to see the threat from Hamas, Netanyahu’s government is also striking schools and other establishments which would in a normal war would be considered as no-strike, protected civilian objects under international humanitarian law.
This, however, is not to be in case of the onslaught over Gaza where the Israeli government is striking with impunity with the backing of its old ally the United States.
The conflict in Palestine which has simmered for 75 years now is coming to a head when there is a clear shift in the priorities of the people and states in the region. For many long decades Israel was not recognized as a state by the other states of the Eastern Mediterranean region. It got its way, however, when Donald Trump entered the White House and there was a notable shift in the policies of Gulf Sheikhdoms like the UAE.
The biggest prize for Israel was yet to come in the form of recognition by the KSA. Had it come to pass that KSA would recognize Israel, it would have opened doors for Israel to strengthen its position in the region through establishing diplomatic and trade ties with seemingly the richest country in the region.
This prize was getting closer and closer for Israel but in the end Hamas, sensing that the realization of this contingency would really steal the wind out of their struggle’s sails, initiated a pre-emptive attack on Israel to derail the whole process. Viewing the current conflict through this lens is, however, a bit too reductionist.
Israel, it must always be remembered was established after a war in 1948, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs, both Muslim and Christians, were displaced from their homes.
This event is remembered by the Palestinians as Nakba or the Catastrophe, in which these peoples were forced to flee their homes and lands.
Palestinians still today live in refugee camps in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Those who live in those camps are still holding onto the keys of their lost homes in hope that someday the historical wrong of 1948 will be corrected and they will return to their true lands.
This same dream of returning to their true land or promised land kept the Jews hopeful through their centuries of tribulations in Christian Europe. It was in the years of Second World War that the persecution of Jews really culminated in the holocaust. Side by side the revolution in human liberal thought and ideas of democracy took it upon themselves to rescue the Jews from the twin-menaces of Nazism and Fascism. Allied nations then helped establish the state of Israel for the Jews to have a peaceful and nationalist home.
Orthodox Jews in Israel, however, influenced by the ideas of Zionism and their beliefs in prophecies, set out on a path of turning out Palestinian Arabs from their homes and taking over their lands. Their illegal settlements and continual expansion of the borders of the state of Israel put them at odds with the Muslim population of the region who saw the conflict over the land of Palestine not as a geopolitical contest but also as a spiritual contest.
Israel through its policies of establishing illegal settlements in Palestinian lands and not adhering to the two-state solution was committing the same wrong of which the Jews were victims for thousands of centuries in Christian Europe. It turned out to be one of the bad jokes of history where a people who were turned out of their homes, in turn, turned out other helpless peoples from their homes to remedy the wrong that was done to them in the first place by somebody else: in this case the Christian Europe and Czarist Russia.
In any case, the current conflict is not just a response to the recognition of Israel by the states in the Middle East. Rather, it is the logical coming to a head of a conflict that was bound to erupt in due time.
Land disputes rarely go unresolved in history. In this case, the conflict is not just over a piece of land but also over a very specific part of that land which is extremely sacrosanct to the biggest monotheistic religions of the world. Jews, Christians and Muslims all hold the land of Palestine as sacred because of the relevance of the origins of their religions to that land. Muslims have the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa Mosque there, Christians have the Holy Church of Sepulchre, and the Jews have their Western Wall or the Wailing where they go and pray essentially.
The control over the city of Jerusalem was the cause of the Crusades initiated by European Christian Kings in eleventh century AD. The same conflict over the control of the city of Jerusalem is still ongoing with Muslims gritting their teeth that why Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque are no longer under their suzerainty? The conflict which went on for almost a hundred years almost a thousand years ago is not going to be over just because Israel has taken over the city a thousand years after that.
The conflict is still underway and the latest war initiated by Hamas is just the beginning of what is to come. On the northern border of Israel in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is waiting to make its own move whenever it feels that the time is right. A few countries across, Iran has also developed a missile arsenal lethal enough to bypass the Iron-Dome of Israel just for the purpose of fighting the war that will see the forces of Zionism and Islamism clash.
If history is any guide then it must be remembered that the initiation of the First World War was preceded by a decades long process of Germany arming itself and developing its military capability to fight France, United Kingdom and Russia. The same process of armaments has also been seen in the Middle East where Hamas spent the last many years preparing just for the moment where it could initiate a hostile action against Israel. Same goes for Iran which has a stated policy that it will liberate the land of Jerusalem from Israel.
It is only the people of Palestine who will lose the most from the current war. Mass atrocities committed by the IDF are only worsening the situation and there seems to be no way out of the conflict. Whether a ceasefire is agreed upon or not, the conflict will not end here as the main bone of contention which is the city of Jerusalem will still be there. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before a bigger war in the middle east will erupt which is going to decide who sits on the throne in that historical of cities which is Jerusalem.