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Peace goes to pieces as Palestine-Israel conflict explodes following Hamas invasion

8 OCTOBER 2023: THE Gaza invasion of Israel and the massive retaliation for the killings, rockets, and hostage-taking, will have long-term consequences, adding to the seemingly intractable cycle of violence and mounting costs in terms of civilian casualties.

Presciently, in mid-2018 the The New York Times wrote, "The shift from the politics of Rabin and Shimon Peres to that of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman is a move from pluralism to ethnocentrism, from relentless engagement to segregation."

The writer added, "It is clearly in Israel’s interest to maneuver the Palestinians away from extremism and to weaken the extremists in its own ranks. And yet sometimes Israeli policies seem callously designed to guarantee an extremist response."

On 7 October 2023, NYT wrote: "Nearly 50 years to the day after the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Israel has again been taken by surprise by a sudden attack, a startling reminder that stability in the Middle East remains a bloody mirage... The psychological impact on Israelis has been compared to the shock of Sept. 11 in America."

While much of the world raced to condemn the action by Hamas, in the initial flush and fevered reporting few recalled the issue of settlements, East Jerusalem, and Netanyahu's hardline positions, all tinder waiting to be lit. Following the incursion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted: "We will restore security to the citizens of Israel and we will win.” The problem is that the core issues of occupation, land-grabs, and second-class citizenship for Palestinians have not been addressed.

The Washington Post said: "Mr. Biden offered equally unequivocal US support to Israel: 'The United States stands with the state of Israel … full stop,' he said in remarks Saturday. 'There is never a justification for terrorist attacks,' the president said, an allusion to the legitimate Palestinian grievances that Hamas is exploiting."

The Post touched upon Iran's displeasure at the growing US-favoured accord between Saudi Arabia and Israel: "We now know just how audaciously Iran and its proxies might act to preempt negotiations between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel that could result in mutual recognition between the latter two — and heightened U.S. support for Riyadh, including a civilian nuclear capability." Iran backs Hezbolla as well as Hamas and applauded the raids into Israel.

The conflict raised more questions than it answered, said The Washington Post: "Yet the future shape of Israel’s government is one of the issues that the new war leaves less clear, at least for now. Other questions include whether Saudi-Israeli diplomacy can survive this shock; how widely beyond Israel and Gaza the fighting might spread; the potential impact on the global economy if oil prices spike; and whether any hope of compromise between Israel and the Palestinians could somehow emerge from this unprecedented assault."

would like to see Israel use non-lethal means of restraint. "Israel, a high-tech powerhouse that has already pioneered missile defenses, should now take the lead in nonlethal weapons. These could be augmented with additional physical barriers to avoid deadly confrontations."

In mid-2018 The Guardian had sensibly argued: "As Israel grows richer, Palestinian destitution becomes more troubling. Its dilemma grows more acute as the number of Palestinians in the Holy Land approaches that of Jews. Israel cannot hold on to all of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, keep its Jewish identity and remain a democracy. It is in Israel’s interest to accept that Palestinians need a state as much as Israelis do. Otherwise, the choices are a single entity in which Jews could eventually be a minority; a form of apartheid; or perpetual occupation."

Why did Hamas invade? The news service AP explained it thus: "Hamas officials cited long-simmering sources of tension between Israel and the Palestinians, including the dispute around the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is is sacred to both Muslims and Jews and remains at the emotional heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Competing claims over the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, have spilled into violence before, including a bloody 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021."

While most countries condemned the Hamas action, Iran offered congratulations to the Palestinian fighters and Qatar (a former peace talks intermediary) said Israel alone was responsible for the escalation of violence.

The Economist explained how brazen the initial attack had been. "The fortified border fence between Israel and Gaza was breached by trucks and bulldozers laden with explosives while fighters in motorised gliders flew over the fence. Hamas fighters also used boats to attack an Israeli coastal base.."

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