Hamas Draws Israel into Middle East Latest Escalating Violence Threatening an All-Out War

Are we on the brink of a new war in the Middle East that could draw the United States, its Allies and the rest of the Muslim nations into a war that could result in unforeseen consequences?

The region seems posed for all-out war as upheavals and mass instability frames this section of the world. The threat of widening the already volatile conditions gives pause for concern.

This is all happening at a time when officials are reporting that Europe has been in the second leg of a double-dip recession for almost a year. Europe’s increasing economic troubles have come as a result of a combination of high interest rates severe cuts in spending and tax increases for nation earnestly trying to dig themselves out of the debt holes they themselves dug.

With the ongoing civil war in Syria, tensions in Lebanon that brings in Hezbollah and now with the post Arab Spring democracies, countries are much more answerable to their people. If their people see that the situation between Hamas and Israel in Gaza as untenable, and they start to protest against their leaders, that would cause even more instability. Hence, with the United State’s historic agreement to defend Israel always looming when tensions get this high, the situation could turn drastically worst and wind up draining U.S. dollars in military expenditures in what could erupt into an all-out war in the Middle East.

Moreover, the latest escalating violence points to a scenario which could even threaten to launch a global war perhaps by triggering a domino effect upon the economic global markets which might impact political stability worldwide.

At the moment war seems inevitable as Israeli troops and tanks moved toward the border of the Gaza Strip. According to ABC News Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has received official authority to authorize the call-up of reservists as air strikes failed to halt the rounds of rockets being fired from the Hamas-controlled territory. The move signals Israel’s willingness to engage in a strategy that would include a major ground offence in addition to air strikes.

Israeli air strikes have already hit more than 150 targets across Gaza since the operation dubbed “Pillar of Defense” began Wednesday evening.

Hamas responded by launching rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli population centers as the only possible response given their disadvantage to Israeli technical superiority.

Hamas representative Usamah Hamdan told NewsHour: “I think when you are facing an occupation, an armed occupation with air support and the best weapons made in the U.S.A., what do you do? You must do the best you can.” He allowed that from a military standpoint, the Gazans’ “weapons will not be equal to what the Israelis have, but we must resist until we are liberated.”

Hamdan also said the lack of a peace process as a reason to continue rocket attacks into Israel. “There is no more peace process,” he said. “Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is considered an obstacle by Israel and Netanyahu is not interested…So what are we to do? We must liberate our own”

Perhaps one of the most important events to trigger the escalation happened when for the first time since the Gulf War, a rocket has hit Tel Aviv by Fajr-5 rockets. These Iranian-made weapons can reach a lot further than the ordinary Grad missile. Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have claimed responsibility for the attack. The strike was the furthest Hamas had ever struck into Israeli territory.

Israel counters Hamas’ actions with precision strikes on the bunkers where fajr-3 and Fajr-5 had been stored as well as on other caches and launching sites, reduicing Hamas’ ability to launch these long-range missiles that are capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

As in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which began with Israel destroying Hezbollah’s long-range rockets, the most pressing objective was to deny Hamas (and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) the ability to disrupt the lives of those in the greater Tel Aviv area and central Israel by means of long-range rockets.

The aim of Operation Pillar of Defense is to remove a strategic threat to Israeli citizens including by reducing the capabilities of Hamas’ long and short range rocket forces.

Additionally, Israel is acting to impair Hamas’ command and control system.

At the present time Israel and Hamas are observing a cease fire at the urging of Egyptian officials which have arrived in the Gaza Strip to meets with both Palestinian and Hamas officials.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who has been in hiding since the targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday, publicly welcomed Kandil on Friday and accompanied him on a visit to a hospital in Gaza.

Haniyeh addressed crowds, vowing defiance in the face of the Israeli operation in Gaza and praising Egypt for Kandil’s visit, which he called “a message to the occupation.”

Kandil also addressed the crowd, denouncing Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian territory and adding that Cairo would try to secure a ceasefire.

“Egypt will spare no effort … to stop the aggression and to achieve a truce,” Kandil said.

His visit marked the first time an Egyptian prime minster visited the Gaza Strip.

The visit came as some Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip expressed disappointment over Egypt’s “mild response to the Israeli aggression.”

The United States has asked countries that have contact with Hamas to urge the Islamist movement to stop its recent rocket attacks from Gaza, a White House adviser said.

“We’ve … urged those that have a degree of influence with Hamas, such as Turkey and Egypt and some of our European partners, to use that influence to urge Hamas to de-escalate,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said in a conference call with reporters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview with Voice of America: “I understand the reasons Israel is doing what they’re doing. They’ve been the target of missiles coming in from Gaza … .”

Speaking on BBC’s Today programme this morning, foreign secretary William Hague said both sides – Hamas and Israel – had a responsibility to end the violence. “We look to Hamas to end terrorism and violence and to Israel to de-escalate,” he added.

The history of Gaza conflict is known. Israel left the Gaza Strip down to the last soldier, settler and to the last square mile. Hamas, an organization committed to the destruction of Israel, seized control of Gaza. Since the rocket fire continued, an (light) embargo was put in place. Hamas and its satellite organizations proclaim war without end, fire rockets at population centers. The Palestinians could have taken advantage of Israel’s departure from the Gaza Strip in order to prove to the world that they are capable of doing something for themselves – in human development, industry, education, social welfare, etc. Capital is flowing but it is hard to see it on grassroots. But Hamas leadership seems to have different priorities than capacity building of civil society.

It hard to say what effect if any the Egyptian visit will have on curtailing Israel’s build up around the border. Nevertheless, perhaps we all should remain hopeful that the two sided quickly find some common ground as the world on a whole is at a delicate moment in history.

My great fear is that if Egypt fails to convince Hamas to move away from the present violence, all-the-world might eventually fall victim, like dominoes, to perennial troubles that have defined these region’s history for as long as the world has seen war.

The following links contributed to this story: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/11/hamas-responds-to-israeli-attacks.html
http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/hamas-miscalculated-israel-started-operation-pillar-of-defense?xg_source=activity#.UKYC5IfAfQg

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