By: Omar Silva, Editor, National Perspective Belize
Belize City: Monday 16th October 2023
The Hamas Group's status in Arab countries is notable, as they are not typically classified as terrorists in these nations. This perspective draws parallels with the United States, which has been known to provide military and financial support to groups it labels as freedom fighters while they are regarded as terrorists elsewhere. Arab countries such as those supporting Hamas and Hezbollah perceive them as fighters for their cause against Israel, which is backed by the USA and accused of colonization in Palestinian territories. The ongoing Israeli policies in areas like Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria have raised concerns about apartheid, and this has once again put the Middle East at the center of global attention.
As a grim remembrance of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, when multiple Arab nations united to attack Israel and suffered defeat, a massive rocket assault from the Gaza Strip occurred on October 6, accompanied by an incursion into Israeli territory carried out by the terrorist organization, Hamas. This act resulted in hundreds of casualties from various nationalities, dozens of civilian hostages in Palestinian territory, and a logistical crisis for evacuating thousands of trapped tourists, setting the stage for the current crisis in this historically conflicted region.
The Israeli offensive against Hamas is unprecedented in terms of its scale, violence, troop involvement, and deployment of modern weaponry. Unfortunately, millions of Arab civilians residing in the increasingly deteriorating autonomous Palestinian territory find themselves caught in the crossfire. Today, innocent people are paying the price for Hamas' extremism, as their radical stance has consistently aimed to eliminate the State of Israel, a goal deemed inconceivable and unacceptable. However, the humanitarian crisis emerging, affecting children, the elderly, and distressed mothers, is equally intolerable.
The Gaza Strip shares a border with Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula, but Egypt has chosen to close its borders to refugees due to the presence of various Islamic militant groups, such as the Islamic Army, whose sole interest is to incite conflict and recruit fighters. While international aid has begun to arrive on the Egyptian side, it appears inadequate in the face of the massive survival needs.
It's important to emphasize that concern for displaced Palestinians does not diminish the condemnation of the deadly aggression by Hamas extremists. Hamas has established authority through violence and intimidation in the Gaza Strip, even against the Palestinian National Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the Al Fatah party with a more moderate stance seeking coexistence with Israel. However, since 2008, legislative power has been in the hands of Hamas, which rejects Abbas's legitimacy, despite international recognition of him as the official leader.
The ripple effects of this extremist attack and the Israeli incursion into Palestinian territory extend beyond the region. There is fear in international markets of further escalation involving other nations antagonistic to Israel. The United States has expressed its full support for Israel, and several European Union countries have banned demonstrations in support of the Palestinians, leading to internal polarization. International oil prices have seen a sudden 5% rise in the last week, a development with potential implications if the crisis continues without a clear resolution timeline.
At this critical moment, the role of the United Nations is pivotal, as is the poise of world powers in mediating and encouraging a more conciliatory Israeli stance. Additionally, securing the safe release of hostages, including individuals from Argentina, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and other nationalities, is a top priority. The world is on edge during these days, and the main future economic indicators are also hanging in the balance.