With Israel declaring war on the Gaza Strip after an unexpected attack by the terrorist Palestinian group Hamas on October 7, the global fraternity is straining to decode the real nature and reasons for the armed engagement. Apparently, there is no tangible reason for Hamas to attack Israel. No doubts some small skirmishes have been taking place, but these are not so alarming for Hamas to target Israel.
For decades Israel and Palestine have been fostering strained relations and have fought many wars, but it is not yet clear what prompted the Hamas to launch a scathing attack on Israel just a week back. Israel targeting the civilians has in fact been quite intriguing. Its warning to civilians to vacate the north Gaza and move towards South simply underlines its machination to launch a ground level attack and intervention in Palestine.
It is quite significant that Hamas launched the attack, but it has not been countering the Israel’s dangerous incursions. The task to raise the voice of common Palestinians has been left to the Palestine authorities. It is sad that the western block has been adding to the prevailing confusion. There are many versions in circulation in public. One version which was nevertheless outright denied by the US officials had come from none else but from US President Joe Biden who said he saw “confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children”, appearing to corroborate reports of a deadly onslaught allegedly by Hamas militants who devastated Israel’s Kibbutz Kfar Aza, located close to Gaza.
Being the president of a super power US, Biden should have taken pains to doubly verify the information. But he did not. It certainly turns intentions of Biden suspect. Global fraternity has been witness to the fact that in recent times Biden has been promoting arch rightist forces though he claims to be a democrat. He had said “It is important for Americans to see what is happening. I have been doing this for a long time. I never thought that I would see… have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children”. His remark came at a meeting of the US Jewish community leaders at a White House roundtable.
Netanyahu’s action should also be seriously viewed in the background of emergence of rightist forces across the world. Baring a few countries, most of the global nations have rightist governments. In recent times Netanyahu has also projected himself as the public face of the rightist forces across the world. Significantly his coalition has far-right parties, including one whose leader was once convicted of anti-Arab racism. After forming the ultra-rightist government, Netanyahu and his rightist coalition partners have rejected the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – the internationally backed formula for peace which envisages an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as their shared capital.
Like all other countries ruled by the rightist forces, the Netanyahu government is for curbing the rights of the judiciary. Though Israel is a democratic country, Netanyahu government is contemplating to give more power to the legislature and confer MPs with the right to overrule Supreme Court decisions. This is not only a direct attack on judiciary but a move to finish Israeli democracy.
Netanyahu is credited with having a large number of criminal cases against him. Interestingly his coalition partners have also proposed legal reforms which could terminate ongoing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against him. Israel is witnessing wide protest against this move of Netanyahu government to change the character of the country.
Opponents said the reforms would turn Israel into an illiberal democracy – an elected government that moves to restrict democratic rights and freedoms, in the style of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Even thousands of army reservists threatened not to report for duty if the changes were pushed through, raising concerns about the military’s’ capacity to respond to large-scale attacks. Experts feel that under Netanyahu’s leadership, “Israel was deeply, deeply divided in a way that it hasn’t been ever in its history since the foundation of the state in 1948”.
Israel’s Mossad and its military failed to comprehend the Hamas attack. This failure has made the people raise accusing finger at Netanyahu and also express apprehension that the governance is breaking down in the country. It is said that Israelis are increasingly aware of government failures that enabled Hamas’s attack, but that may not be enough to bring the Israeli prime minister down.
Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel is without doubt of historic proportions and will be remembered for generations to come. It is a known fact that Netanyahu’s strategy has always been to allow Hamas room for manoeuvre in order to weaken the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Palestinian society more generally. It is worth mentioning that at a Likud party meet in March 2019 he had said; “Those who want to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state should support the strengthening of Hamas and the transfer of money to Hamas. This is part of our strategy, to differentiate between the Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.”
The crisis in Israel reached a significant moment only last week, with an attempt at the Supreme Court to overturn a controversial law passed by the government. It follows months of turmoil over the government’s plans to change the way the judicial system works. Since the start of the year, huge weekly protests have been held by people opposed to the government’s reform plans. The scale of the protests has escalated, with tens of thousands of people packing the streets in towns and cities across the country. Undeterred, the Netanyahu government which has comfortable majority in parliament passed into law in July the first planned change – a so-called “reasonableness” bill. This removed the power of the Supreme Court to cancel government decisions deemed “extremely unreasonable”. Protesters have called for all the planned reforms to be scrapped and Netanyahu’s resignation.
Some experts feel that the current war is part of the design to deflect peoples’ attention. Israelis say, “Hamas started this war, and now Israel has to win it”. Unfortunately for Netanyahu, the people opposed to his move to alter the basic character of the government and country, are not ready to endorse his action against Palestine. Protesters are getting the support from Netanyahu’s political rivals, as well as former top officials in Israel’s military, intelligence and security services, former chief justices, and prominent legal figures and business leaders amongst others.
The protesters strongly hold the view that Netanyahu has been simply strengthening the base of the rightist forces not only in Israel but in other countries surrounding it. Experts also nurse scepticism on the averseness of some Muslim countries towards severe aggression of Israel against Palestine, which according to them represents the symbol of secularism and anti-right power. (IPA Service)