Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | Israel-Hamas conflict: Is there a chance of ceasefire?

Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | Israel-Hamas conflict: Is there a chance of ceasefire?

In this episode of Worldview, we look at the Israel-Hamas war and is India walking the balance with support to Palestine 

Israel’s bombing of Gaza in the aftermath of the October 7 terror attacks sees mounting casualties and destruction- is there any chance of a ceasefire? We ask the Israeli Ambassador.  And after its support to Israel on the terror attacks, is India walking the balance with support to Palestine, marking a return to a more traditional position by New Delhi?

Two weeks after the Oct 7 terror attacks that killed 1400 in Israel, the Israeli defence forces continue to bomb Gaza, where they believe Hamas fighters remain, and about 200 Israeli hostages have been taken. 

The bombing of the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, which left more than 500 dead has been the worst point of the crisis in the past week- The Palestinian authority has blamed Israel, while the Israeli government has denied being responsible, claiming that it was a failed rocket from the group Islamic Jihad that exploded on the hospital. 

The Israeli response includes:

  • Airstrikes on various parts of mainly Northern Gaza- in the first six days, the IDF said it had dropped 6000 bombs. That is 1000 per day, more than the bombing of ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, or in Afghanistan.
  • More than 3,700 Palestinians have been killed.
  • Israel has closed all exits from Gaza, and insists all of the residents of North Gaza must move to South Gaza, as they prepare for a ground offensive that is likely to take more lives.
  • Israel has stopped all food and fuel supplies into Gaza, and while it allowed water after a week, it cannot be pumped without fuel.
  • The UN says the situation has reached a new low, and called for Israel to allow aid in from Egypt at the Rafah crossing.

Meanwhile inside Israel:

  • Funerals for about 1,400 now identified as dead from the Hamas attacks of October 7 continue.
  • IDF has called up about 36,000 reservists, trained citizens and asked them to assemble as it plans the ground offensive- Remember in 2005 Israel pulled out troops from Gaza as well as settlers on 21 sites, and since then has not gone in.
  • PM Netanyahu is facing growing questions from Israelis over the intelligence failures, the lack of preparedeness and response to the Hamas attacks- in addition to other political challenges, protests over his judicial overhaul.
  • Israel is also preparing for a possibly broader war, where it is worried about attacks from various sides including.
  1. Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
  2. The Hezbollah in Lebanon, where it has already exchanged gunfire.
  3. Syrian military- IDF ordered a strike on a Syrian position this week.
  4. Houthi groups in Yemen, who reportedly fired 3 missiles, that US naval warships have said they intercepted in the Red Sea.
  5. Concerns over its Embassies and diplomats worldwide- as protestors took to the streets in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and other West Asian capitals. In Beijing an Israeli diplomat was stabbed.

Internationally- after a brief moment of solidarity for the October 7 attacks, which UAE condemned, and the Palestinian president distanced themselves from, the world has divided along older faultlines:

1. US President Biden, followed Secretary of State Blinken into Israel- and promised military support for its war. He then asked the US congress for billions of dollars for both Israel and Ukraine. However Bidens plans to meet with Arab leaders were rebuffed as Jordan cancelled a planned summit with the Presidents of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

2. UK PM Sunak, was close behind.

3. And the European Union, led by Germany has backed Israel.

4. India, after initial messages of support over the terrorism attack has returned to a position that is much more in tune with the past.

  • Condemning terror, but warning against civilian casualties.
  • Supporting direct talks for a two state solution for a sovereign viable Palestine.
  • India is providing Palestinians humanitarian assistance- through UN relief and works agency- about $5 million a year.
  • And a week after he spoke to Israeli PM Netanyahu, PM Modi spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, offered condolences.

On the other side:

5. A week after the Arab league met, Saudi Arabia held an emergency meeting of the OIC- where Iran called for an oil embargo on Israel until it stops the bombing. 

6. Protests have increased in all Islamic countries, but also across the western world, and even by Jewish groups in the US Congress.

7. Meanwhile in Beijing, China hosted the BRI forum, with representatives of more than 130 countries attending- but all eyes were on the Xi-Putin meeting. China and Russia have increasingly coordinated positions, and Putin called for Israel to stop the conflict and go for talks now.

Earlier I spoke to Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon- and began by asking if it is time for a ceasefire.

A rock, a hard place and only rubble where their homes once were. 

Worldview Take

With its decision to go to the end with Hamas by bombing Palestinians in Gaza, Israel has lost an opportunity to change the trajectory of the decades-old conflict. The world over Hamas’s terror attacks on October 7 have been condemned, and the pain of Israelis empathized with. However, ignoring the history of the conflict, and growing concerns over casualties and killings in its aerial bombardment of Gaza will simply bring the region back to the brink, potentially making all the diplomatic gains of the last few years, collateral damage. 

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