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  Opinion   Edit  19 Oct 2023  AA Edit | Hospital bombing changes optics in Israel-Hamas war

AA Edit | Hospital bombing changes optics in Israel-Hamas war

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 20, 2023, 12:18 am IST
Updated : Oct 20, 2023, 12:18 am IST

Aid may be just a sliver of comfort for the beleaguered citizens, but anything would seem like a ray of light at the end of the tunnel

Qassam rockets fly over destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP/PTI)
 Qassam rockets fly over destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP/PTI)

The strike on Gaza's Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, owned by the diocese of the Episcopal Church based in Jerusalem and which left a few hundred people dead, has changed the climate of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. It may not, however, have changed the course of the war itself as Israel still intends to go ahead with a multi-pronged ground offensive to first take northern Gaza that includes Gaza City.

There is no final word yet on what caused a bomb or rocket to fall on the compound of the hospital, killing mostly people seeking refuge from Israeli bombing of Gaza. No matter how emphatic Israeli protestations or how sincere Islamic Jihad’s denials or how convincing Hamas is with pointing the finger of blame, the horrific act of striking a civilian hospital has left deep scars that will not heal.

The US President Joe Biden may have told Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “…it appears as though it was done by the other team not you”, perhaps meaning those launching rockets must “learn to shoot straight”. He blamed those on the Gaza side of the conflict who do have a history of seeing some of their thousands of rockets fail to fly as intended and end up inflicting more death and pain on the tragic civilians of Gaza.

The circumstantial evidence of the hit on a part of the hospital — no sign of a crater a powerful bomb would leave, and extensive fires possibly spread by rocket propellant — may point to a trajectory misfire of a rocket. Maybe, it was a false flag attack, that is, if the terror merchants were clever enough to create one.

What the killing of civilians has done is to bring a planned three-way summit in Jordan involving the US President to an abrupt halt. Having gambled with political fallouts of his trip to Tel Aviv to stand in solidarity with Israel, Mr Biden had to be content with conducting his diplomacy in a telephone call from Air Force One to open a channel of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the good offices of the Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi.

Aid may be just a sliver of comfort for the beleaguered citizens, but anything would seem like a ray of light at the end of the tunnel because Arab states, whether bordering Gaza or not, are unwilling to open their countries to Palestinian refugees. Nor have too many moved positively in years to take forward the valid principle of a democratic homeland for Palestinians.

Israel will invite worldwide opprobrium by an invasion of Gaza, which said to have been cleared by the US President as the only possible course of action to contain Hamas, an organisation with terror on its agenda every passing day even as it rules a territory as a government.

It is up to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his all-party government to decide now how proportionate their response to the worst ever terror attack on its territory and its citizens, of whom not even babies, children, women, and the elderly were spared in displays of Hamas barbarism, is going to be.  

Taking possession of Gaza through a land war may not be an insurmountable task for even the stretched Israeli defence forces, smarting from the failure to stave off the Hamas attack. What after the invasion and displacement of Hamas is a question not only Israel but also the Arab countries must answer.

Tags: aa edit, gaza strip, israel palestine conflict