AA Edit | World must persuade Israel to stop Gaza war

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

No strategic and military tactic is off the table, including the planned use of giant pumps to fill the tunnels under Gaza City with water.

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. In recent days, Israeli tanks have rumbled into southern Gaza, starting with Khan Younis. It marks a grim new chapter in the war that the Gaza Health Ministry says has already killed over 17,000 Palestinians and the U.N. estimates has displaced 1.9 million people. AP/PTI

There is an urgent need to start the negotiations again between Israel and Hamas as the Israeli offensive in Gaza has gone on beyond two months and over half of Gaza City is already rubble. But, far from calling positively for a ceasefire and looking for the release of over 140 hostages still with Hamas, Israel is reported to have been granted one more month to run its operations in the Gaza Strip by the United States leadership.

The Israeli push into southern Gaza has set off alarms even among those who strongly backed the country’s right to defend itself against terror. The crisis of refugees in their own land in the Gaza Strip has been exacerbated by Israel pushing into Khan Younis, the biggest city in southern Gaza, in its hunt for militant members of Hamas.

The safe pockets being spoken of during the land offensive are so tiny as to offer little protection as citizens in an already overcrowded Khan Younis, that saw its population double in the time of war to nearly a million people, flee west and south in the limited directions still available to them.

The Palestinian death toll has crossed the 17,000-mark, as opposed to the 1,200 Israelis who lost their lives in the horrific Hamas attack on October 7, even as the US has been pushing the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take greater care to distinguish between Palestinian civilians and the militants owing direct allegiance to Hamas and who are being targeted.

There have been whispers of US cutting some of its war aid to Israel just as it upped the pressure on Israel more by imposing visa bans on settlers in the West Bank guilty of committing violence against Palestinians.  But Mr Netanyahu, more obsessed with what will happen on the day after the operations to flush out Hamas must end, has been saying that his military would continue to maintain security control over Gaza long after defeating Hamas.

US President Joe Biden, an unabashed supporter of Israel from the day he entered the Senate 50 years ago, is said to be playing good cop-bad cop with his Vice-President and secretary of state making the harshest sounds on what is the ground reality, which is a massive loss of civilian life and displacement in South Gaza as well.

Neither are humanitarian laws being upheld nor are the rules of war being abided by even if this whole operation is in response to the atrocities committed by Hamas in their strike against Israel. The focal point of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which was to eliminate the Hamas leadership and dismantle its military capabilities, has hardly been fulfilled with reports suggesting that the Hamas have dispersed rather than been eliminated, their losses among the leadership hardly countable in scores.

No strategic and military tactic is off the table, including the planned use of giant pumps to fill the tunnels under Gaza City with water. While flooding may be strategically sound to make the tunnels inoperative, what happens in Operation Gaza is still what is occupying Mr Netanyahu’s mind rather than a ceasefire or peace talks.

It is imperative that the risk of the Gaza War expanding into a regional confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon firing rockets at Israel and Mr Netanyahu threatening devastation in Beirut and southern Lebanon be avoided. A ceasefire may be a starting point.