FOR the Palestinians, particularly the hapless people of Gaza, these are strange times indeed. While Israel continues to unleash violence upon them, their ‘Arab brothers’ are clamouring to make peace with the Zionist state. Over the last few days, the coastal enclave of Gaza witnessed ferocious violence, said to be the greatest escalation since the 2014 conflict, much of it unleashed by Israel. The trouble began with an Israeli foray inside Gaza; Hamas, which controls the strip, and other Palestinian factions responded with rocket fire into Israel, which, in turn, invited air strikes. Around 15 people have been killed in the violence, most of them Palestinians, and the hostilities only stopped when a ceasefire was announced on Tuesday. However, the cessation of hostilities has not gone down well with extremists within Israel, who perhaps feel not enough Arab blood has been spilt. On Wednesday, Israel’s hard-line defence minister Avigdor Lieberman tendered his resignation, saying that the truce amounted to “capitulation to terror”. Perhaps Mr Lieberman wanted a repeat of the 2014 atrocities, in which the UN said Israel had killed nearly 300 children.

In these dark times, there seems to be little hope for the Palestinians. Israel knows it can get away with its excesses, thanks to powerful patrons and the silence of the world community. On the other hand, the Palestine question — once raised passionately by the Arab street — is being pushed to the margins by Arab rulers. In fact, Israel has of recent been on a charm offensive, courting the Gulf Arabs; both parties have been coming closer over the years thanks to a common aversion to Iran. Questions of a viable Palestinian state, the right of return, etc seem like a distant dream; right now, the prime concern is to prevent Israel from shedding Palestinian blood at will. Will the UN and all those across the globe who claim to respect human rights hold Tel Aviv to account? Or will Israel continue to display its repugnant behaviour?

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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