OPERATION ‘PROTECTIVE EDGE’ IN GAZAThe declared reason for Operation Protective Edge, launched on July 8, 2014 by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the Gaza Strip, is to retaliate against the recent wave of Palestinian rocket attacks which began in the wake of recent unrest, but the real reason seems to be punishing Hamas for the abducting and murdering of three Israeli youths.Hamas’ insistent denial of responsibility in this affair has fallen on deaf ears.

The real reason may be to tighten the siege of Gaza and to force the replacement of Hamas by al-Fatah as the source of governance in Gaza Whatever the real reason, the “incremental genocide of Palestinians” continues unabated, as Ilan Pappé put in his September 2006 article.The international reaction to the Israeli operation has varied from country to country.

The US has not deviated from its policy of supporting Israel no matter what it does. The UK, Germany, France and Belgium have also voiced their support.

They declared that Israel has the legitimate right to defend itself, giving lip service to the suffering of the Palestinians. However, there have been pro-Palestinian demonstrations in many of these countries.

The remaining Western countries and nearly every Muslim country (except Egypt) have harshly criticized Israel.Turkey has been the most vocal country in criticizing Israel, though one would be justified in being pessimistic that this strong reaction will have any effect on Israel’s attitude.

Israelis watching the aggression from a hilltop near the Gaza border were jubilant to see the Israeli rockets hit their targets. One member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked of the ultranationalist Jewish Home party, went one step further and called for the killing of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.

” The deputy chairman of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, proposed expelling the Palestinian population of Gaza and resettling it with Jews. We may hear more creative (!) ideas like this in the wake of this crisis.

A group of Israeli jurists issued a comment which seems to directly contravene Article 13 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, saying that “as bad as it sounds, harming civilians is permissible.”The loss of lives was approaching 600 at the time this article was drafted, but both Israel and Hamas are more focused on carrying on with their respective agendas than on the number of fatalities.

Many Palestinians who lost their loved ones during this crisis will either become fighters or suicide bombers. Now is not the time for recrimination, but that of the pragmatism to stop the bloodshed.

Otherwise, more fatalities will further exacerbate the conflict, making any agreement more difficult.An Egyptian initiative to declare a cease-fire failed because it was rejected by Hamas.

There were claims that the cease-fire proposal was drafted originally by Israel and handed over to Egypt, who sent it back to Israel as an official proposal. More realistic speculation says that Egypt drafted the proposal in order to prevent other countries from taking similar initiatives that will exclude a role for Egypt.

Egypt, after drafting the proposal, shared its content with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It did not, however, share it with Hamas, because Egypt deals only with the Palestinian Authority and not with various factions, but also because of the deep-rooted suspicion the Sisi regime holds for Hamas.

A former Egyptian parliamentarian, Abu Hamad, tweeted that “Egypt should not admit the wounded Palestinians and treat them at the border station.”The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, visited Ankara on July 18 after Cairo.

The purpose of this visit was to use Turkey’s influence to persuade Hamas not to insist on the lifting of the siege of Gaza as a precondition for the cease-fire. It is not easy for Turkey to suggest to Hamas that they support the Egyptian cease-fire initiative before the siege of Gaza is lifted, because Turkey had been insisting on the lifting of the siege even before the present crisis broke out.

Cooperation between Turkey and Egypt at such a critical juncture could have greatly contributed to the solution of the crisis, but the Gaza crisis is perhaps the most difficult occasion to achieve this as their policies are almost diametrically opposed on this particular subject.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman