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  Opinion   Edit  08 Oct 2023  AA Edit | Hamas attack on Israel set to trigger wider Mideast conflict

AA Edit | Hamas attack on Israel set to trigger wider Mideast conflict

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 9, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Oct 9, 2023, 12:05 am IST

A call for peace, so pedantic in times of crises like this, rang out from many capitals.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP/PTI)
 Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP/PTI)

When Islamist group Hamas launched a spectacular series of attacks on Israel on Saturday, it may have changed the future of the region. On Simchat Torah, one of the Jews’ holiest days, the strikes were coordinated to such a degree as to make it Israel’s 9/11 moment, in a replay of the surprise element as in the attack on Pearl Harbour.

The events will have ramifications for years to come. They may have put paid to Palestinian aspirations for statehood forever while the Iran-backed Hezbollah action in firing missiles and rockets brings on fears of Lebanon being dragged into the conflict.

At a time when the US, led by Joe Biden, was aiming to convince Saudi Arabia into normalising ties with Israel on a quid pro quo of a Saudi defence pact with the United States, the Hamas attack comes as a spoiler. The future of Gaza may lie in what Israel decides to do in retaliation for the strip of land serving as the Hamas base for launching the daring attacks with 5,000 rockets.

Israel’s Iron Dome may have disposed of most of the threat, but it could do little about Hamas’ Islamist terrorists who slipped into as many as 22 areas of southern Israel in the biggest incursion ever and committed barbaric “war crimes” — parading a German woman tourist naked, shooting every civilian, including children and the elderly, at sight on landing from paragliders or simply butchering soldiers and members of the Israeli police force and taking hundreds of hostages.

There is only one counter to terrorism and that is for states to act to wipe it out, wherever the bases of terror may be. Israel has been avoiding an invasion of the Gaza Strip to take control of a region populated by thousands of innocent citizens but ones who are held hostage by the continuing presence of Hamas as the controlling force in their land.

The nature of “war” is such that even the most peace-loving peoples may celebrate what they may see as a victory against people of other religions they may not like. Several people may have celebrated the strike against Israel even in faraway lands like the UK, but this only forebodes the deadly force with which Israel will defend itself after a massive intelligence failure had led to these attacks taking a huge toll of lives before reprisals boosted that deadly tally.

Fifty years ago, Israel had not anticipated the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, caused by a shock attack by a coalition of Arab states. It turned things around in the 19-day war, but this operation against Hamas may be a lot more complicated and may involve precision bombing of Gaza, which will however not happen without collateral damage. Hundreds of terrorists and scores of civilians have died already in the Gaza Strip.

A call for peace, so pedantic in times of crises like this, rang out from many capitals. India, as a victim of terror on numerous occasions, has been championing the cause of concerted efforts, including the occasional cross-border “surgical strikes”, to stamp it out. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message to Israel was loud and clear in its unequivocal support and sympathy.

Tags: aa edit, israel, hamas