Editorial: Israel faces international pressure

Al-Ahram Weekly Editorial
Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

Together with the United States and the European Union, key Arab nations — Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — have been exerting tremendous efforts in the past few weeks to bring the horrific bloodshed in Gaza to an immediate end.


Hopefully, this effort will bear fruit in the next few days, regardless of the defiant statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has put the political survival of his extremist, right-wing coalition above the interests of his own country and people.

This is the view of Israel’s opposition parties and staunch allies such as the US Democratic Party’s Senate majority leader, Chuk Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish-American who calls himself a Zionist whose love for Israel “is in the bones.”

After nearly six months of Israel launching its genocidal war against the Palestinian people in the densely populated, narrow Strip following a humiliating attack by Hamas fighters on 7 October, the entire world, including Israel’s closest allies topped by the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany — who have been generously providing the Israeli army with deadly weapons with which to kill Palestinians — are finally saying enough is enough.

Except for Washington, London and Berlin, the world has long been united in its view that this war has gone on for much longer than necessary. This is the view even among those who reiterate that Israel had the right to defend itself after the 7 October attacks by Hamas. Facing mounting world pressure, veiled threats by Washington to reconsider the flow of “offensive” weapons to its closest Middle East ally, and a US-drafted resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire and warning against the disastrous consequences of carrying out the Israeli threat to take over Rafah along the border with Egypt, Netanyahu seemed to be out of his mind.

He bitterly complained that the world has quickly forgotten the unprecedented killing of 1200 Israelis on 7 October following the Hamas attacks, the highest death toll in one day in Israel’s history since it came into existence 76 years ago.

While refusing to take responsibility for the drastic failure by Israel’s army to provide security to its own people, or the responsibility of his extremist government in inflaming the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, since he took office in late 2022, what has been shocking and sickening is his disregard for the lives of the 32,000 Palestinians killed on his orders since the beginning of this war.

At least 8000 more are feared to be buried under the rubble, and nearly 75,000 people have been wounded.

The insane argument Netanyahu keeps repeating, like a broken record — that Hamas has been using civilians as so-called human shields — is a lie that is no longer in the least convincing. Gaza is nothing but people on top of each other, and there is no way any army could conduct such relentless, indiscriminate bombing in this limited area without carelessly killing civilians. 

The reality is that both Israel’s broad killing and deliberate starvation of the Palestinian people are intentional strategies used by the Israeli occupation army in order to force Hamas to give in to Israel’s demands and accept the reoccupation of Gaza, if not the forced deportation of its people.

Moreover, if Netanyahu feels betrayed by the world, one wonders how Palestinians should feel after the world has repeatedly failed to see them as equal human beings since 1948, providing justifications for their killing and subjugation to one of the worst racist occupations in modern world history.

Yet, even lovers of Israel could not withstand the sight of Palestinians who have been intentionally starved to death by the Israeli occupation army being shot in cold blood while trying to obtain what food they can from the few trucks that were allowed to enter the besieged strip over the past two weeks. And here we are not only referring to the deadliest incident on 29 February at Nabulsi Square in Gaza City, in which 118 Palestinians were killed but to nearly daily incidents in which the occupation army arbitrarily shoots at hungry Palestinians, killing hundreds.

Israel’s most biased apologists could also no longer justify its siege and raids on the few Palestinian hospitals that remain functional and whose doctors are under the constant threat of being killed or arrested by the occupation army, which strips them down to their underwear and tortures them.

In a meeting with top European leaders in Cairo on Sunday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi urged them to exert substantial efforts to secure an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and to scale up humanitarian assistance and relief to alleviate the devastating humanitarian catastrophe endured by the Palestinian people. He also stressed Egypt and the world’s categorical rejection of an Israeli military operation in Rafah, which would exacerbate an already deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the sector and attempt to liquidate. This is the position that Egypt will continue to pursue tirelessly with Arab nations and Western allies.

Expectations that the round of negotiations which started in Doha on Monday might be more successful than more recent rounds are not, based on Israel’s good will or desire to compromise and seek a permanent solution for this long conflict that will never end as long as its occupation of Palestine continues. It is because Israel has gone over the top in its disregard of all war conventions and humanitarian laws.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 21 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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