By Anjan Roy
To the day the Yom Kippur war broke out fifty years back, the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel. Think of a Pakistani terrorist attack on Bombay of November 26, 2008 many, many times escalated in scale, and that is what had happened to Israel on this October 6, 2023.
Deaths and destruction in Israel and Palestinian territories apart, the escalation of hostilities to such an extent could altogether derail the process of normalisation of relations in the entire Middle East. The US-Saudi Arabia-Israeli rapprochement could fall victim. Saudi Arabia was planning to have diplomatic relations with Israel in a move to open up the Middle East to greater economic prosperity.
Qatar and UAE were also following suit the Saudis in normalising relations with Israel. That would mean a sort of isolation of Iran which is still indefatigably antagonistic to Israel. Iran promises to wipe out Israel as a professed goal of state policy.
The October 6 attack has punched a big hole into the claims of famed Israeli spy networks. This correspondent had a firsthand glimpse of the simmering tension among people —Israelis on one side and the Palestinians on the other— in this picturesque holy land which had given birth to three of the world’s great religions.
Religion and animosity run parallel to each other over the millennia. In the hill on which the town of Jerusalem is situated. You still have the path which was taken by Jesus Christ on his way to crucifixion and the points when he broke his uphill task of carrying his cross on his shoulder. These are known as the Seven Stations of the Christ, still showing the cruelty of man to man.
Not only the Hamas had launched rocket attacks on Israeli targets throughout the country, but Hamas has sent in militants into Israeli interior where they are attacking ordinary homes and kibbutz. There are frantic calls from various kibbutz in the west Bank where the residents are pleading for Israeli military support as Hamas militants are threatening to enter Israeli homes.
That such a campaign could be mounted stealthily by the Palestinian militants and sympathisers is a commentary on the world-famous intelligence network of Israel. The militants could elaborately plan their operations well in advance.
Some security experts believe that this could be achieved by the Hamas by adopting primitive methods of communications which could not be tracked by sophisticated high-tech snooping networks. What these primitive means could be, has not been elaborated, however.
Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the entire Muslim world in the middle east had mounted a war in 1967 against the tiny state of Israel with the avowed objective to obliterate it from the face of the earth. Instead, after the initial setback Israel had then leapt back and gave it as hard as they had initially received.
It had taken large areas in the West Bank and captured the Golan heights and placed itself into a formidable position in the Middle East. Israelis had captured the greater part of the adjoining land and also decimated the Egyptian airforce. It was so resounding a success that a humbled Egypt and the others allies had to seek peace to end the on-going conflict.
A revenge was planned in 1973 and another war was launched on October 6, which happened to be the Yom Kippur day, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar when they observe fast and pray so that all their sins of a past year are condoned. Once again, Egypt and Syria were the main players in 1973 war,
Since the 1973 war was launched on the holiest day —Yom Kippur— of the Jews, that war came to be known to Israelis as the Yom Kippur war. For the rest of the Middle East that war is remembered as the October 6 War. Like the previous two wars, these hostilities are being fought on the back of multiple factors, including rising frustrations in Palestinian territories and among the Gaza Strip inhabitants.
To heighten the appeal of the current war to the Muslim world, the Hamas militants have given a call for freeing the al Al Aqsa mosque. In fact, the Hamas is already referring to the latest attack as the “Al Aqsa Storm” in which it expects sympathetic Muslim countries to chip in. Al Aqsa is said to be from where Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heaven.
That could be a dangerous turn. Al Aqsa is an extremely sensitive issue for the Muslim world. This is a golden topped mosque in the Holy Land where side by side there is the “Wailing Wall” which is considered the holiest place for the Jews and there is a Church there also, Jesus Christ having born in the nearby “Nativity Church”.
In fact, this small area of Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its real capital and which has been recognised as such by former US Present Donald Trump, is where three of world’s major regions were vying with each other.
The hill opposite this holy site is where Jews from across the world seek to get their final resting place. Jews are buried in this hill facing the holy land and it is peppered with graves from top to bottom of the hill.
A millennia of strife in this small land, intensely thickly populated and claimed by rivals, is witnessing another round of killings and suffering which can spread far beyond these small confines. (IPA Service)