x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Perspectives on the assault in Gaza: from low level conflict to all-out war?

What the Arabic press has to say about the Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip.

What the Arabic press has to say about Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Translated by Racha Makarem

When the assault began on Gaza, the Israeli government believed it could act without restraint, said the Saudi columnist Khaled Al Dakheel in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

Discussing the feasibility of the military operation, the Israeli leadership calculated its position after carefully looking into their opponent’s ability to react.

But how did the current crisis start? Was it started by Hamas or Israel?

“To put it more precisely,” the writer said, “the question should be when did the Israeli war on all Palestinians, including Gazans, ever stop?”

War isn’t necessarily launched with rockets, missiles and cluster bombs. Assassinations, home wrecking, land stealing, illegal settlements, imprisonment, forced displacement and humiliation at checkpoints across Palestinian territories are also aspects of conflict.

To add insult to injury, the main victims of the war were demonised and portrayed as terrorists who refuse to acknowledge the right to establish a Jewish state.

“The Israeli war on Palestinians hasn’t stopped once since 1948.

“It varies between low intensity conflict and an all-out war every now and then, and it’s up to Israel, every time, to decide when and how to transfer from one to the other,” Al Dakheel explained.

But, what are Israel’s motives for this renewed offensive?

“One mustn’t forget that Israel’s primary objective is to strike at the recent Palestinian [Hamas-Fatah] reconciliation.

“In this case, sustaining the reconciliation would be the most painful retaliation to the Israeli onslaught,” wrote Khalil Hassan, a contributing columnist with the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

The attack was launched with an intent by Israel to quickly expand and intensify operations, but it was surprised this time around by pre-emptive operations on the Palestinian part against strategic Israeli positions.

“This indicates that the Palestinian resistance forces have initiated a different strategic tactic that could lead to a reshuffling of cards and influence any subsequent agreements between the warring sides,” the writer added.

“It is clear that the Israeli escalation would be faced with harsh reprisals,” he noted.

In terms of large-scale wars, political alliances and balances are decided upon the outcomes of battles.

In this sense, there’s an opportunity for Egypt to realign itself with the Gaza Strip.

This applies also to Iran and Syria, which would prefer to benefit from a role in managing the crisis in Gaza to alleviate pressure on their other fronts.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council issued yet another insipid statement, as is the usual case when it comes to Israeli trespasses in Palestinian territories. It did nothing to halt Israel, the columnist Ali Barada wrote in the Lebanese daily newspaper Annahar.

“It is shameful, however, that the Arab group at the UN is devoid of any diplomatic astuteness or moral backbone to point the finger directly at Israel for the recurring tragedy of more than 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza,” he observed.