Rajat Sharma


AKB30 The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas threatens to spiral into a regional conflagration in the Middle East with US and Iran issuing threats against each other. In Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei accused the US of “directing Israeli strikes in Gaza” and said, “America is a definite accomplice of criminals”. Khamenei said, “America’s hands are tainted with the blood of the oppressed, children, women, patients and others”. Iran has issued a threat saying, if Israeli forces enter Gaza, they will have to face the elite Quds Force of Iran. The US has taken Iran’s threat seriously and has rushed its air defence systems to protect its military installations in the region. Clearly, the conflict seems to be heading towards a major conflagration beyond Gaza. Meanwhile, Turkiye President Erdogan openly supported Hamas saying “it is not a terrorist organization but a liberation group waging war to protect its land”. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria have called for an immediate halt to all attacks and imposition of ceasefire, but Israel is determined to carry on its operations against Hamas. While Israel has agreed to halt its ground attack on Gaza on US request, its armed forces, on Wednesday night, sent infantry forces and tanks in a ‘targeted raid’ on Hamas in northern Gaza. Israeli army claimed that its forces struck several anti-tank guided missile launch positions of Hamas. The troops left the area after raids, Israeli Defense Force said. Israeli army has released chilling video of six captive Hamas terrorists confessing on camera that they were instructed to kill and kidnap civilians, including elderly, women and children. One of the captive Hamas terrorist disclosed that “whosoever brings a hostage back to Gaza will get $10,000 and an apartment.” In the video, the Hamas operatives gave chilling accounts of how the attacks on October 7 morning was carried out on Israeli settlements. One captive Hamas terrorist confessed that when he shot a dead woman lying on the floor, his commander scolded him for using bullets on a dead body. Another terrorist confessed that the women, children and elderly were taken hostages in order to use them as human shields. Another Hamas terrorist disclosed that he saw two attackers taking an old woman aged 60-65 years as hostage on a motorbike to Gaza. The captive Hamas terrorists also revealed how they used gas to smoke out civilians who were hiding in shelters, and they did not even spare pets. At the end of each confession, the Hamas terrorists were asked whether Islam taught killing women and children, and all of them answered: ‘No’. All these interrogations were done on camera by Israeli security agency Shin Bet. In another video, a Hamas terrorist is shown speaking to his father on phone and claiming that he killed 10 Israelis. His father congratulated him for this while praying for his safe return. Watching and listening to these confessions can shock any humane person. One can understand why Hamas terrorists entered Israel to carry out murder and mayhem, but because of their misadventures, the entire city of Gaza populated by Palestinians has now turned into rubble. The world is now divided into two camps, with one supporting Israel’s action against Hamas, and the other denouncing Israeli attacks on Gaza. Israel has amassed its troops near Gaza Strip and has deployed tanks, armoured vehicles and other missile batteries. Its army is awaiting orders to launch ground attacks. US has advised Israel to postpone its ground assault on Gaza strip, even as negotiations are under way for release of all American and Israeli hostages. The Israeli army is using this time to carefully assess the ground positions because Hamas has built a huge web of tunnels inside Gaza, and Israeli intelligence lacks detailed information about the tunnels. Any ground offensive in haste can be counter-productive. The second reason is geo-political. Even if Israel occupies Gaza, what next? After decimating Hamas, whom will Israel hand over the charge of Gaza? How and when will the Israeli army return after its work is over in Gaza? Israel knows that Gaza will forever continue to evoke sympathy among Palestinians and Muslims across the Islamic world and politically, it can prove costly if Israel continues with its occupation of Gaza. In Lebanon, the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jehad and Hezbollah met on Wednesday but kept their talks under wraps. A Hamas spokesperson said, the fight for liberating Palestine will continue. At the United Nations Security Council, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative R. Ravindra took a balanced view. He voiced India’s deep concern over “the deteriorating security situation and large-scale loss of civilian lives in the ongoing conflict. The mounting humanitarian crisis is equally alarming.” India, he said, “has always supported a negotiated two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side in peace with Israel, taking into account the legitimate security concerns of Israel…We reiterate the need for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations.” India’s stand is both balanced and practical. I had said this earlier too that if Israel occupies Gaza, it would be difficult for it to keep it under its control. Already the US has advised Israel not to rush with its ground attack on Gaza. One thing is certain: war cannot go on forever. A way has to be found out. Israel has full right to take action against Hamas, but millions of people living in Gaza cannot be left to live in dire straits. India is therefore sending humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and is appealing to Israel to practice restraint. The world has appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s stand. Muslim leaders in India, who were earlier criticizing Modi for standing up with Israel after the Hamas attacks, are now praising him for sending assistance to the people of Gaza.

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