India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj deserves applause for having rebutted the Opposition’s call for suspension of all military purchases from Israel and taking the issue of the ongoing Israeli action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to the United Nations. She has rightly argued in the Upper House of India’s Parliament that the present conflict in Gaza could have been ended and peace restored by now if Hamas had accepted the ceasefire proposal from Egypt.
The approach of international actors, such as the United Nations, the United States, France and Russia, to solve the present Gaza Strip conflict is absolutely ludicrous. In this conflict they all seem to have apportioned equal blame to both Israel, the only developed democracy in the Middle East – and Hamas, a notorious terrorist organization with a charter based on the fanatic ideology of hatred and violence against vast sections of humanity, including women.
US President Barack Obama has reportedly "expressed concern about the risk of further escalation” in the ongoing conflict and emphasized the need for “all sides to.. protect the lives of civilians." He has proposed "to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.” French and Russian Presidents Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin have made similar pleas. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had urged Israel and Palestinian militants to exercise restraint and avoid "another full-blown war".
History tells us that Hamas has been the chief villain of peace in the region. Jerusalem withdrew from the Gaza strip in 2005 uprooting more than 8,000 of its citizens and abandoning all its border controls of Gaza, except the Israeli one. Yet this terrorist outfit has fired more than 12,000 rockets at Israeli towns since 2005 and indulged in dozens of other terror attacks on civilians in the country.
This has not only put Jerusalem under tremendous moral and legal obligations to use all its means at its disposal to protect its citizens by liquidating the entire Hamas infrastructurey. Its previous offensives, including “Operation Pillar of Defense” (November 2012) have failed to end Hamas’ operational control in the Gaza Strip. Given this background, Jerusalem needs to remain tough this time around and proceed with its current efforts to crush the activities of former Hamas Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh Haniyeh, the military wing in Gaza, and political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal based in Qatar. It has done well to reject the recent Hamas demands, including the release of the dozens of its operatives, freed in the 2011 Schalit deal, who were rearrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank in the wake of the murders of the three Israeli teenagers, and the payments of the salaries of 40,000 Hamas clerks in Gaza.
One would suggest the world’s leading democracies and responsible states could back the Netanyahu government here and see to it that it achieves a complete victory in its current “Operation Protective Edge.” They could provide Jerusalem with whatever appropriate military, logistical and diplomatic support were needed in this enterprize.
Unfortunately, despite precautionary measures, such as dropping leaflets to pre-inform the residents about the areas and buildings to be targeted by the ongoing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza , some innocent people get killed as the terrorists force them to be used as human shields . Such casualties may be avoided far more if Jerusalem could plan a ground invasion in consultation with moderate Muslim nations such as Egypt and Jordan in the region, enter the Strip and destroy Hamas one by one.
It is heartening to learn that the current dispensation of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Cairo has recently done a lot in neutralizing Hamas in the region. After the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Cairo has declared Hamas a terror movement. The Egyptian army has destroyed a majority of Hamas’ smuggling tunnels to the Gaza Strip.
One wishes the Palestinian Authority government disassociated itself with Hamas completely now for the sake of peace and development in the region. The Authority ought to realize there is no point having a partner whose ideology is hatred and violence against fellow human beings. The Hamas rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip can kill or wound not only Israelis but also Palestinians in the West Bank. The reconciliation agreement Hamas had reached with the PA in April this year had been done only to alleviate its current financial predicament.
Pertinently, one need not to be confused by some of the recent positive statements of Hamas spokesmen Sami Abu Zohari. They have denied Hamas’ involvement in the kidnappings of three Jewish teenagers. The intention of Hamas has been crystal clear. Former Hamas Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has already announced that the “Third Intifada” has begun in the West Bank. He praises the heinous acts of terrorism indulged in by the Hamas military wing and calls Israeli civilians killed in its terrorist operations “settlers”. Senior members of Hamas , such as Khalid Mashʿal, Fauzi Barhum, and Mushir al-Masri, have praised the recent abduction and later killings of the three Jewish teenagers. Mashʿal refers to the Israeli civilians killed in its attacks as “soldiers. ”
One hopes all civilized states and individuals in the world today would remain constantly vigilant against any state or non-state actor that might still be backing Hamas. It is no secret that this terror organization has been able to retain its influence owing to the support of certain reactionary establishments in the Middle East. For long it had the support of the “Axis of Resistance” (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad). After Hamas’s parent movement Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Cairo, former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi blessed it to the full. In the recent past the Emir of Qatar is said to have granted Hamas $ 400 million. The vigilant have to ensure such linkages are foiled in the future.
The author is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi