SEVENTY YEARS OF ANIMOSITY IN GAZA STRIP

. Since 2007, Israel has had a blockade of Gaza wherein free movement into and from Israel for jobs or medical treatment is severely restricted. There have been two rounds of wars between Hamas in Gaza and Israel in 2006 and 2014 wherein Hamas has resorted to missile attacks and Israel to air attacks. Timing of 2014 Israeli attacks is considered to be very significant by the international community for two reasons. Firstly, Hamas had shown an inclination to burry its differences with Fateh and come under the umbrella of a united Palestinians Authority operating from the West Bank. The second was that Israel had developed Iron Dome System with collaboration with USA for 4.2 billion dollars wherein over 98 percent of missiles fired from Gaza are intercepted and destroyed by automatic firing of Patriot missiles within seconds. The situation is still precarious and Israel also has the naval blockade in place wherein no food items, medicines, building material or weapons can come from the sea. Till the year 2000, the beginning of Second Intifida, around 26,000 Palestinians used to go into Israel for work on daily basis. Today Hamas has been discredited and is frustrated with the ongoing blockade by Israel. Palestinian Authority in West Bank is also very weak with overwhelming presence of armed Isreali Defence Forces. Their writ runs only in 14 percent areas of A Zone in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza also does not listen to them. By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel with great fanfare when the Palestinians were getting killed in Gaza ; the USA has clearly indicated that two state theory is unattainable and Palestinians will have to stay within a Jewish state as second grade citizens. An Israeli Journalist Mark Lavie has explained Gaza as a hellhole. As per him, there is genuine suffering, poverty and hopelessness. Today, nearly two million Palestinians are living in desperation in forty by ten kilometres Gaza Strip and are at the end of their wits. They are living in abject poverty with overall 40 percent unemployment which translates to 60 percent for the youth. There is shortage of food items, medical supplies and electricity and as per the United Nations estimates, Gaza Strip will be unliveable by 2020. The population is caught between Hamas and the Israeli Armed Forces. Hamas is losing credibility and ground as it is helpless when it comes to alleviating sufferings of people. Israelis are playing into the hands of Hamas by killing large number of civilians. They are indirectly helping Hamas by diverting the frustration and anguish of the people with Hamas Administration. The international community feels that Israeli has resorted to disproportionate use of force. Even on last Friday of Ramazan called Al Quds, four Palestinians have been killed and over 400 have been injured. Peaceful agitation started by some students after the weekly prayers has turned into indiscriminate firing of rockets from Hamas and a lesser known militant group called Islamic Jihad. Israeli soldiers continue to fire for effect and the end of this impasse is not in sight. Egypt has tried to broker peace between the two warring sides but it does not last for more than a few hours. Palestinians also feel that Egypt’s gesture of opening the blockade from their side for the holy month of Ramzan is also a cosmetic one but will not resolve the problem. Recently, Palestinians have scored a small moral victory by persuading Argentinian soccer team not to come for the much publicised match with Israel in Jerusalem. But peace will still keep eluding the Middle East and coming months are likely to be more violent because Israel with the help of Trump Administration has buried the two nation theory and under the right wing government of Netanyahu has reconciled to conflict management as conflict resolution seems to be a distinct possibility.]]>

Trump move on Jerusalem faces worldwide criticism

 US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital triggered global flak, including from some of America’s closest allies, amid fears it could strengthen extremists and destroy the region’s faltering peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump’s decision on Wednesday had made for a “historic day” and was “an important step towards peace”. But furious Palestinians condemned it and warned that had diminished Washington’s role as a peace mediator. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas called the decision “deplorable” and said it will not change Jerusalem’s status as the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine”. Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank. The hardline Hamas called for a “day of rage” on Friday and said the decision would “open the doors of hell” on US interests in the region. In a landmark speech in Washington, Trump reversed decades of US policy in defiance of warnings that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital will derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and create further unrest in the Middle East. Trump, fulfilling his campaign promise, said he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the US and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians”. He said he would tell the State Department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if approved by both sides. Several past US Presidents insisted that the status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions — must be decided in negotiations between the two sides. The UN Security Council will discuss the issue on Friday after eight of the 15 nations called for an emergency session. The Arab League will meet on Saturday. The Arab and the wider Muslim world, including a number of US allies, condemned Trump’s announcement. The Saudi Royal Court warned of serious consequences of such an “irresponsible and unwarranted step”. The United Arab Emirates expressed “deep concern” about the repercussions of the decision, WAM news agency reported. Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper declared “Death to America” on its front page on Thursday. President Hassan Rouhani said Iran “will not tolerate a violation of Islamic sanctities. Muslims must stand united against this major plot”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the US decision was not only a violation of international law but also a severe blow to the conscience of humanity. Demonstrations erupted outside the US consulate in Istanbul. Kuwait and Qatar, besides China and Pakistan, also came out against the US move. India declined to comment, saying its position on Palestine “is independent and consistent”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “a moment of great anxiety”. He said “there is no alternative to the two-state solution”. Pope Francis called for the city’s “status quo” to be respected, saying new tensions in the Middle East would further inflame world conflicts. British leader Theresa May disagreed with the US decision, which was “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said their countries did not support the move. Canada said its embassy won’t move to Jerusalem. EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern”. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called on Muslims worldwide to “make it clear that we strongly oppose” the US move. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo too slammed the US decision. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.
  (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(IANS) // ]]>