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Many conflicts are plaguing our world today: from Libya to Yemen, from Kashmir to Donbass. None of them, however, manages to catch the attention of the mass media and polarise the opinions of otherwise completely civilised people as much as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will discuss the more complex Arab-Israeli conflict in detail in a future article.
It all started last Friday, 7 May, the last Friday of Ramadan. On the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem, a place that has always been at the centre of conflicts and disputes because of its fundamental importance for the three great monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, violent clashes took place between the Israeli police and tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters who had gathered there.
In response to the violent actions of the police, as it often happens, rockets, to which the inhabitants of the entire region are sadly used, were soon fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The Gaza Strip is a disputed territory claimed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as part of the non-internationally recognised State of Palestine, where around two million Arabs live. The Strip is under careful Israeli military watch and under the political control of Hamas, a political-military formation classified by the United States – and therefore the European Union – and Israel as a terrorist organisation. The objective of Hamas is the definitive establishment of a Palestinian state through jihad. Rockets from Gaza directed towards Israeli territory have been answered by Israeli projectiles directed towards Gaza.
Thus, a spiral of violence began, which now seems very difficult to stop. The number of rockets fired towards Israel has exceeded two thousands. The victims on both sides are increasing by dozens every day. They are not only soldiers or militiamen but also women and children. Israel, clearly superior in military and technological terms, then proceeded to attack the territory controlled by Hamas, also using dozens of military aircrafts. Social tensions and violence are increasing within Israel, where some have gone so far as to define the situation as a ‘civil war’: a certain number of ethnic Arab mobsters in the town of Lod, in central Israel, have allegedly set fire to a synagogue as a sign of protest and exasperation, but this has only contributed to the worsening of the general situation. The President of the State of Israel went so far as to call a ‘pogrom’ the events in Lod.
The Israeli Ground Forces declared that they had launched an operation in Gaza territory. The information was later denied by the Army, in a confusing situation that certainly does not help the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict.
The UN is urging a cessation of hostilities and an end to violence through a verbal intervention by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which, as always, will prove decisive. The United States of America, through the statements of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, expressed its support for the State of Israel. In a telephone conversation with the President of the PNA Abu Mazen, Secretary Blinken has demanded a halt to the firing of rockets into Israel. He seems to have forgotten about the rockets that Israel continues to fire and the bombings that the Israeli air force has been carrying out on Palestinian cities for several days now. For his part, Recep Tayyip Erdogan sided with Palestine, calling Israel a “terrorist state” and invoking the intervention of the UN Security Council to stop Israel’s attacks. He seems to have forgotten about the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli cities.
Unfortunately, what is happening in Palestine is only the beginning. Neither Israel nor Hamas are willing to stop their hostile actions against their neighbour. The line between the attacks of recent days and real war is now thin. Israel has repeatedly shown that it has no fear of carrying large-scale military operations against the Arab states in the region, even if they are certainly more powerful than the Hamas fighters. Soon, Israeli soldiers may indeed cross the 1950 Armistice line and enter Gaza. The consequences of such an action could be terrible. A new open war between Israel and the Arab states, always on the side of Palestine, would be devastating. Among other things, it could raise tensions to very high levels between Turkey and the US, officially allies but increasingly less so.