With Israel continuing to bomb Gaza, the White House has said that the four-hour daily pause in bombing is for Palestinians to get out of Gaza. Israel earlier said hospitals were bombed because of Hamas tunnels underneath, but now says Hamas rockets falling short are hitting hospitals.

Al Shifa hospital bombed repeatedly is more of a mortuary now without electricity; declared non-functional by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On November 9, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 4,104 children were killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza. The WHO says every 10 minutes a child is killed in Gaza bombings.

The United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken shed crocodile tears in New Delhi, saying, “Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many have suffered these past weeks. We want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximise the assistance to them.”

Over 11,800 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, even as Blinken is lobbying trying to shut down ‘Al Jazeera’ which lays bare Western cover up of the ground situation. French President Emmanuel Macron says Israel should stop killing women and children. However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected all calls for a ceasefire.

The UN said on November 10 that soon all of Gaza’s "120 municipal water wells were expected to shut down as fuel is depleted. Water entering through the border with Egypt on aid convoys is only 4% percent of what is needed.” The human tragedy continues in Gaza with hundreds of civilians trying to flee, leaving their properties and belongings behind.

Netanyahu wants the release of all hostages taken by Hamas, while Hamas wants release of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Meanwhile, Qatar, an American protégé, is working behind the scenes to get the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

India has friendly relations with both Israel and Palestine. India formally established relations with Israel in January 1992. Ties between the two nations have flourished primarily due to common strategic interests and security threats. Defense ties are strong and Israel has supported and helped India in all wars.

India recognised Palestine's statehood after the Palestinian declaration of Independence on November 18, 1988. However, relations between India and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were first established in 1974.

Bilateral relations are largely based on socio-cultural bonds. In September 2012, India announced US$10 million contribution to Palestine and pledged support for Palestine's full UN membership. Palestine has consistently supported India on the Kashmir issue.

Historically, Jewish tribes of Arabia were ethnic groups that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula before and during the advent of Islam. Judaism found its place in the Arabian Peninsula through immigration of Jews, after the collapse of Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE; after the Roman conquest of Judea; after the Jewish rebellion (66 CE) and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 CE; survivors of Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE; migration around 300 CE from Ghassanids in Syria; migration from Judea into southern Arabian Peninsula during the Himyarite Kingdom around 380 CE.

Former United States’ President Harry S. Truman describes the creation of Israel thus: “We had several other people in the country even among the Jews, Zionists particularly, who were against anything that had to be done if they could have the whole of Palestine…

“We had to take it in small doses. You can’t move five or six million people out of a country and fill it up with five-six million more and expect both sets to be pleased. But don’t think that decision to recognize Israel was an easy one.

“I had to make a compromise with Arabs and divide Palestine. Jews want to chase all the Arabs in the Tigris and Euphrates river and the Arabs want to chase all the Jews into the Red Sea and what I was trying to do is to find a homeland for the Jews and still be just for the Arabs.”

The US-led West doesn’t want a ceasefire in Ukraine or Gaza and Israel is apparently determined to ethnically cleanse Gaza on the pretext of wiping out Hamas altogether, which is impossible, even as an Israeli minister proposed a nuclear strike on Gaza.

Washington is also worried that the British gas exploration rights to the Gaza marine gas field expires in 2024 and thereafter Gaza could grant these rights to Russia. Oil has been crucial to American warmongering. The US invaded Iraq for oil albeit lying Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. America is responsible for destroying the Russian Nord Stream pipelines.

This is why the US backs the Israeli plan to push Palestinians into the Sinai desert or obliterate Gaza altogether. Therefore, the US military supplies to Israel including precision munitions. Egypt is being pressured because its $3 billion IMF program has gone off and Egypt needs more than $28 billion to meet repayments in 2024 alone with foreign debt quadrupled.

The IDF surrounded Gaza City with tanks but fighting through the rubble, built up areas and clearing the 500-km labyrinth of tunnels could take a heavy toll on the IDF. Continuing genocide in Gaza will adversely affect Israel’s foreign relations notwithstanding the US support. Moreover, with Israel bombing southern Lebanon, Hezbollah joining the war on Israel is a certainty.

Israel has warned Hezbollah that Beirut could face a similar fate as Gaza while Hezbollah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem has told BBC that danger of a regional conflict is real if the Israel-Hamas war continues. The US has been warning Iran against supporting Hamas and Hezbollah.

However, directly striking Iran could have adverse geopolitical ramifications for the US, given the current Saudi Arabia-Iran relations and Iran’s relations with China and Russia. China has already said it would defend Iran.

Israel is a nuclear power with a strong military. In 2022, Israel spent $23.4bn on its military; 4.5 % of its GDP to defence. However, if the war continues for long and turns regional, Israel may face multidirectional–multifaceted asymmetric threats; advantage to Hamas-Hezbollah and disadvantage to the IDF. Hasn’t the US lost in numerous asymmetric wars?

Negotiations for a two-state solution are out presently because Israel and the US don’t want it and Israel ‘perceives’ it is fighting for survival. Therefore, negotiations are unlikely beyond exchange of hostages. The Palestinian Authority is no doubt weak but by continued bombings of Palestinians in Gaza, Israel is rapidly losing global support.

More weakening of the Palestinian Authority is a recipe for more chaos in the region. Israel would be far better served by a strong Palestinian movement, rather than a weak one that cannot control Hamas. How will Gaza be rebuilt when the IDF eventually withdraws from Gaza after the war is over? Won’t it require the support of countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to rebuild Gaza?

Brushing aside huge number of civilian casualties in Gaza as unfortunate collateral in the war on Hamas can’t be an excuse for continuing genocide. A long war will also adversely affect Israel’s economy – the same way Europe is facing recession because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Israel needs to decide how much revenge is enough for the 114 Israelis killed in the Hamas attack on October 7. Netanyahu is a friend of India but he needs to stop being bullheaded for fear of being dethroned and prosecuted for corruption, taking into account following important developments:

  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania and Djibouti blocked a proposal at the Islamic-Arab Summit on November 11; to sever all diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, deny Arab airspace to Israeli flights and that the oil-producing Muslim countries should threaten to use oil as leverage to force a ceasefire in Gaza. So, Netanyahu still has hope.
  • 145 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Britain, voted in favour of a UNGA resolution on November 11 condemning Israeli settlement activities in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory”. Canada, Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the US voted against the resolution.

Lt General PRAKASH KATOCH is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are the writer’s own.