For weeks, Hamas and Israel were engaged in tit- for – tat attacks. It reached boiling point when Hamas’ military chief, Ahmad Jabari, the General Commander of the Izz Al Din Al Qassam Brigades was assassinated in a surgical air strike, hours after reaching an Egyptian brokered truce, breaking a treaty for the umpteenth time.
Who Was Ahmad Jabari?
Ahmad Jabari was an important figure of Hamas, and the Palestinian resistance movement. He was an elusive leader who led the joint effort in an operation which resulted in the capture of the Cpl Gilad Shalit serving the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Taking an IDF soldier prisoner has a strong political implication within Israel. It often means that the Israeli PM would lose political credibility amongst the Israeli public and the IDF, if the captured soldier is not rescued. This later led to the prisoner exchange: Gilad Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners, a major victory for Hamas. Jabari also conducted the spectacular operation which would crush Fatah and its forces from Gaza, even though they were backed by the West, Arabs and the Israelis. Jabaris instinct was a good one. Al Jazeera would later discover documents and letters written by the US Secretary of the State at the time, Condoleezza Rice, encouraging Fatah to overthrow Hamas. Jabari would also overlook the build-up and the increasing sophistication of the Qassam Brigades. Furthermore, Jabari had influence and in good terms with other military factions including Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades. Jabari was therefore a serious threat to the Israelis. Thus when Jabari was killed, it was also a declaration of war on them, as they saw him as one of their own. The ensuing conflict would result in many casualties with around hundred and sixty dead, the overwhelming majority being Palestinians. It has officially ended today with the signing of a truce in Egypt, at a more official scale. The treaty would be discussed further later on.
Reflection of the Past
In the ensuing war there are four important things one can observe. For many this war would bring back memories of the war in 2008/2009. However this time, the war was much less devastating. Much of the time Israel was targeting empty fields and roads, to cause demoralization amongst the population. They also targeted Hamas leaders, flattening Hamas HQs. This would slowly shift later in the war. Quite clearly, Israel learnt from the 2008 war, that killing in a disproportionate scale like in 2008, isn’t really good for them as it often provokes international condemnation. Secondly, is the media, much of which has conspicuously sided with Israel, portraying the Hamas and Israel conflict as an even one. Military experts agree that the media is an integral part of war. It motivates, and it deceives so that the public support the war. The BBC is a prime example. The pro Palestinians however had more success within the social media, propagating their side of the story. It was fully utilized by Hamas and the Qassam brigades. Thirdly, it became clear, that Hamas became ever more sophisticated in its resistance. The latest Qassam rockets were able to target Tel Aviv. On top of this, they have also managed to acquire the Iranian manufactured Fajr rockets. The Israelis stated that they wanted to stop the rocket fire from Israel. They would utterly fail as volleys of rockets would be fired throughout the eight days. There is some evidence, including video evidence that Hamas has some anti- air capabilities. Iranian and Arabic media reported that Palestinians have claimed to have shot down an Israeli F16. A video was released, although it was quite vague, but for many, convincing enough. The fourth thing is that, like the 2008 war, it was part of Netanyahu’s election campaigning, to win over more votes.
Support From Morsi
Perhaps the greatest victor of the war is President Morsi of Egypt, though only time will tell. A treaty was signed. Hamas said that Israel was forced into a truce. This was for a number of reasons. It is unprecedented in recent history that an Egyptian PM would go to Gaza and express solidarity with them whilst the war was going on. Morsi managed to gather Turkey’s Erdogan and Qatar’s Emire Hamid Bin Khilafa arrive in Cairo to resolve the conflict. Furthermore, the Arab League would also express support, and send a delegation to Gaza, as did Tunisia. This wouldn’t be possible under the Mubarak regime. This happened due to mainly Morsi’s effort. Turkey reassured, that the West, forcing US Hilary Clinton to arrive in Tel Aviv herself, would not influence their judgment to broker a ceasefire. Morsi clearly won a grudging admiration from the West due to his personal leadership in resolving the conflict, with minimal US interference. Israel feared a diplomatic backlash. Furthermore, Israel realized that they will not be able to stop the rocket fire from Hamas, and thus the treaty was signed. The agreement went further that the Israelis would lift the years long blockade, allow flow of goods, and in return Palestinians would stop firing rockets. Netanyahu thought he could go back to his people and say that he has stopped the rocket fire, but the people won’t forget that it was done by talking to Hamas indirectly and signing an agreement which really favors Hamas in the long term. The treaty also legitimized Hamas further as they were receiving and meeting delegations and governments in Gaza and Egypt. Such recognition is unprecedented. Thus this treaty has many similarities to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which carried long term benefits for the Muslims, as does this one. Perhaps it is too early to say, but some speculate that this treaty could lead to long term peace for Gaza, before plunging into war again. Thus, Morsi, so far, has been able to fulfill his obligation towards the Palestinians and his support in Egypt is surely to increase. Egypt has also established itself as a new hegemony, and a key regional player in the middle east, commanding much influence.
Muslims of Britain
The Muslims of Britain should play an active part in the media as well as humanitarian aid. The media coverage has been appalling. If enough Muslims complained to the BBC, then perhaps this would have been half solved, if not fully. As well as media pressure, one should really read on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The ISoc’s should also be more concerned about Palestine. After all, it is the location of the third holiest site in Islam, the Al Aqsa Mosque.