By Sushil Kutty
The Israel-Hamas war is nearly two weeks old. The highlight was a rocket striking a hospital parking lot which killed 500. The tally was later corrected to 471. US President Joe Biden said he was happy that the “other team” was to blame and not Israel as alleged by Hamas and Iran. Joe felt the backlash when he promised the Palestinians 100 million dollars in aid without the surety that it would not end in Hamas pockets. A Fox News talking head said Biden was “dozing” at the podium when he announced the largesse.
Giving further boost to Israel following the US President’s visit, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Tel Aviv and had talks with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The British PM is scheduled to talk to other leaders of the Arab nations but the mood of the other west Asian nations is sullen. It is still not certain whether Sunak will be in a position to hold all the scheduled meetings.
It is not just the United States handing out humanitarian aid to “Gaza”, Russia announced that it will send 27 tonnes of essentials to the “Gazans”. How it will accomplish this, it is left to the imagination. Will Israel put a halt to the relentless bombing of the Gaza Strip? If this column is not mistaken, the feeling in the West is, the Israelis are angels compared to the Hamas devils.
Iran and Russia however are not sure. Turkiye, Iran and Russia are suspicious of the “United States and its puppet Israel.” Muslim countries are on the fence. The only Jewish state on the planet has demanded a massive-massive aid package from the Biden administration and likely would get it on a platter once the “Speakership” issue dogging the US Congress is sorted out.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz has asked everyone in the US to come on the same page and condemn Hamas. Cruz proves the Americans are divided. Not everybody is singing the Israeli tune, the Hamas song is also on lots of lips, including Democratic House representatives.
Like for instance, The Squad, the women quartet who otherwise are a crick in the neck of Republicans. One of them, Rashida Tlaib, wept for the Gaza hospital and protestors accompanying her tried to storm the Capitol Hill. Tlaib, a Democratic of Palestinian origin, couldn’t care less for President Joe Biden and his 100 million dollar sop for the besieged Palestinians. Rashida Tlaib’s ‘The Squad’ partners – Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressely, and Alevandria Ocasio Cortez – even less.
Yup, the world divided on October 7 when Hamas terrorists barged into Israel and left behind a killing spree reminiscent of the medieval age. The carnage has since become the reason for the carpet-bombing of Gaza Strip. The Gaza hospital became a casualty because Hamas terrorists tore up the border fence and went head-hunting.
The hospital catastrophe “shocked” Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Don’t forget it takes a lot to “shock” our Prime Minister. Modi was also “shocked” by the Hamas carnage. Both times he tweeted. The Manipur killings weren’t on the same scale as Israel and Gaza to “shock” the Prime Minister of India.
So, for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is different strokes for different people/different situations. And if this has “shocked” the Israelis, Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, hasn’t gone into a huddle with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Instead, he has sought India’s help to secure the release of Israelis held as hostages by Hamas. A total of 203 Israelis, including toddlers, are in the custody of the blood-thirsty Hamas. It is doubtful if Modi has the clout or status to influence Hamas.
That is the reason why visits by the US President, UK Prime Minister, French President and the German Chancellor would not make a whit of a difference to the latest edition of the “Israel-Gaza War”. Israel will carry on with the bombing of Gaza for as long as Hamas holds on to the hostages. And if the hostages are not released, even after a protracted-period of strafing Hamas, a ground-attack inside Gaza will be inevitable. It is very unlikely that Israel will swap “Prisoners of War”.
Bottom-line, that is why Naor Gilon, Israel’s ambassador to India, is barking up the wrong tree. The Indian Prime Minister had little or no chance to put an end to the Ukraine-Russia war, but word got around that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was some kind of super-negotiator who can end wars and, now, get hostages released. Festering Manipur is an example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi not always being the best bet to set right a crisis situation.
That said, it is a sign of the times and the changing world that of all the people, it is Israel which has to seek help from other countries to get Israeli citizens freed from the clutches of “kidnappers”. It’s been a long time since Entebbe; whatever happened to the Entebbe spirit.
Israel’s envoy to India says Israelis are “moved” by Modi’s gesture of expressing solidarity with Israel. But Gilon is asking for the moon when he wants Modi’s help to “put pressure on Hamas and if India is able to speak to the leaders who have influence on Hamas for the release of over 200 Israeli hostages, including several foreign nationals”. Indians should keep a lookout for Prime Minister Narendra Modi wringing his hands, which will also be a sign of the changing times. (IPA Service)