The Hamas-Israeli war entered its 12th day on Wednesday with the clashes between two sides intensifying leading to all the possibility of being turned into a dreadful regional war. So far more than three thousand Palestinians have been killed, including about five hundred who were killed when a hospital was bombed in the Gaza strip on Tuesday night. As far as Israel is concerned, more than 1400 have been killed. The death figures till now have exceeded the killings in any other Israel-Arab war till now.
What is the next course of action? The Ukraine war has gone to the background, all the international focus is on the latest Hamas-Israel war the intensity of which has stunned the international bodies including the United Nations.USA has sent its second aircraft carrier to the region to act as a standby in case Israel needs it. President Joe Biden is visiting Israel on Wednesday to extend his support to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has vowed to eliminate Hamas. He has publicly declared that. The entire tenor of the far right Prime Minister is to drive out the Palestinians from the Gaza strip taking advantage of the Hamas attack on October 7.
The Islamic nations are angry and bitter at the Israeli’s all round attack on Gaza and the mobilization of the Israeli tanks across the border for ground attack at any time. The Israeli defence forces have issued ultimatum to 2.3 million residents to leave their places for their safety. UN has estimated that 1.1 million Palestinians are facing evacuation and already four lakh people have been displaced. Hospitals services have collapsed in Gaza as the power and water services have been disrupted by bombings and rocket attacks.
The OIC nations are meeting in Doha on Wednesday coinciding with the visit of the US President Biden to Tel Aviv, Russian President Vladimir Putin is already in Beijing and his meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping is due also on Wednesday. So all the big players who have interests in this war are in negotiations on the same day. Will some formula come out paving the path for ceasefire? That is the prime issue being discussed in the diplomatic circles throughout the world as the war continues.
President Biden was scheduled to visit Jordan after Tel Aviv but the Jordanian President cancelled that as a reaction to the killings of more than 500 people in a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday night. The Jordanian president in a visibly angry mood said that the talks with President Biden would be held only when Israel stops such barbaric actions. This is a blow to the stature of the US President. It was a unilateral declaration by the Jordan president without caring to inform the US before. President Biden is arriving at Tel Aviv at a time when in different world capitals, big demonstrations are being held before the Israel embassies and also before the US embassies to protest against the bombing and killing of patients in the Gaza hospital.
In fact October 18 is a crucial day in the present Middle East war. If nothing positive comes out of the discussions during the day, the war will continue and expand with the participation of the Hezbollah of Lebanon. Saudi Arabia is attending the Doha meeting. If Saudis can persuade the US president to put pressure on the war mongering Netanyahu, some formula can be worked out. Hamas can release all the Israeli hostages and Israel can stop bombing and rocket attacks apart from postponing its plans for invasion of Gaza.
This will need immense spine on the part of President Biden who is facing elections in November 2024. Already the former president Donald Trump who is the Republican Party’s potential candidate is sitting on Biden’s neck with his declaration that Biden is a spineless fellow and he is unable to take firm action against the Hamas terrorists. Trump is depending on the conservative white Americans for his next Presidential term. His strong words against terrorism and Muslims work with them. Biden, even if he has some doubts and is under pressure from some left wing US congressmen to work for a peace formula, is apprehensive that if Netanyahu fully rejects that, he has to go back to Washington with nothing to show.
As regards OIC members, there are problems also. Hamas launched the savage attacks against the Israelis, mostly civilians unilaterally. Hamas plan was not known to the moderate Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO as the internationally recognized body with more responsibility, did not like the action of Hamas but the follow up by Israeli defence forces was so devastating for the Palestine people, that PLO has no alternative now to stand fully by Hamas as far as Gaza strip is concerned. The other OIC nations also have come out of their initial hesitation about Hamas and now are seriously thinking of repulsing Israeli attacks.
What will be the stand of China and Russia as both Presidents will be discussing the issue right now? Both China and Russia have made some inroads in displacing USA in the west Asian region in terms of political diplomacy. Both Xi and Putin are friendly with Iran which is a principal actor. Surely both the big powers will be talking to the OIC leaders on Wednesday, especially the Iranian leaders. But will the two leaders take a stand and convey that to the US President today itself.
All depends on what finally emerges at the Doha meet as also in the Beijing meet on October 18. OIC must have the support of one of the big powers if they work out any joint strategy? Much depends on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision. President Putin is a bit encumbered globally due to the continuing Ukraine war and the number of sanctions’. Russian President lacks that stature compared to the Chinese President. If the OIC and the two big powers China and Russia collaborate, US President Biden can be pressurized to bring sense to the Israeli Prime Minister. If nothing positive happens within the next 48 hours, the Israel-Palestine war is sure to expand as both Hamas and Israel are headed by hot headed leaders. (IPA Service)