By Bachir Habib
Do the calls for peaceful resolutions and accountability change anything in Middle East? Is anyone able to stop the cycle of violence hitting the Palestinians both internally and externally? Once again, Israel is violating the principles of proportionality and distinction in International Humanitarian Law. So what? May respond the Ministry of Defence, it has always been the case and so it will remain. We live in a time where Arab pressure is unrealistic if not surreal while the maximum we can expect from the United Nations is a weak call for both sides to end the hostilities.
Unfortunately, Israel chose the ideal timing to carry out its operation “Hot Winter” in Gaza. And neither the Arab regimes nor the allies of Hamas outside the Arab World succeeded or even tried hard to make Israel miss the chance of starting what the Israeli defense’s minister deputy proudly described as the “Gaza Holocaust”.
On one hand, Iran’s Ahmedinejad is busy paying a US protected visit to Iraq and calling from there to the withdrawal of American troops! Syria is busy dealing with two potentially embarrassing situations: First, denying the meeting held in Washington between its US ambassador Imad Mostafa and an Israeli official in Washington which resulted in a leak that suggests Syria is willing to resume peace talks with Israel. Secondly, fixing the damage done to its relations with other Arab states over its role in Lebanon and the Arab League Summit planned in Damascus late March.
On the other, Hezbollah, another ally who succeeded back in 2006 in easing the Israeli military operation on Gaza by opening the Lebanese front, finds itself in a very different posture and facing a number of problems. Imad Mughniyeh, described as Hezbollah’s military brain, “chief of staff” and architect of Hezbollah’s resistance during the 2006 July war was assassinated in the Syrian heartland just a few weeks before “Hot Winter”.
The Southern Lebanese front is more difficult to access for Hezbollah due to the implementation of Resolution 1701 and the presence of around Fifteen thousand UNIFIL troops south of the Litani River. The latest bad news for Hezbollah is the deployment of the American warship USS Cole in the Eastern Mediterranean, a military maneuver with a highly loaded American political message to the allies of Hamas.
This is the tragic political and military context in which the Gaza population is trapped. The result so far is 120 Palestinians, including many women and children, killed in just six days while the world sits still. Abu Mazen’s decision to suspend all contacts with Israel, and some NGO’s accusing the Jewish state of violating International War Conventions will unfortunately lead nowhere.
This intricate political and military context is not a coincidence; it is a puzzle where each and every political actor in the region fits and shares its part of responsibility in drawing that new framework:
Hamas failed to capitalize on the move to throw Fatah out of Gaza.
Iran is busy dealing with Iraq and the pressure on its nuclear program.
Syria has been hit twice in the past few months (The Israeli raid on its territory last September and the assassination of Mughniyeh in Damascus) without the hint of a response.
Hezbollah is still celebrating the Winograd commission report which confirms its claim that Israel was defeated in 2006.
Israel is comfortably operating its “Gaza Holocaust” …While the Arabs are still wondering whether they should hold a summit.