The cluster humanitarian mess of no equal 

While the Middle East and Persia have witnessed countless wars, the invasion of Israel on October 7th 2023 by a combination of Hamas, invariably, Islamic Jihad, too, has made it the most deadly one. Not since 1945, according to the United Nations (UN) has the world witnessed the sharpest spike in daily fatalities. As this is written, the number of casualties stand at 23,000 people who have been bombed, shot and killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Air Force (IAF). 

Not since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima on August 6th and August 9th 1945 respectively, have more than 100,000 tonnes of bombs been dropped on any landscape, as small as the size of New Jersey, alternatively, one third the size of the city of Los Angeles. Having passed the threshold of 100 days on January 7th 2024, close to 90 percent of the landscape of Gaza have been flattened. 

If one were to include the violence of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank against the Palestinians of various religious backgrounds there, what was once a deadly fatality of 1 Palestinian everyday has increased by 300 per cent since October 7th 2023.

Up to 60 percent of the victims of this war in Gaza, as many reports concluded, have been women and children. Perhaps one should note that more than half of the 2.3 million Gazans are less than the age of 16. This has also been characterized by many false promises by the IDF and IAF according to the submission of South Africa to the the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. How ? 

When the refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) are asked to evacuate to the South, such as Khan Younis, one of the most conservative demographics in Gaza, many of whom are devout Muslims, even Christians, that is precisely the place where the bombs are dropped. 

Little wonder, when buildings come collapsing down, children of Gaza come screaming with the cryptic: "Where are the Muslim countries ? Where are the Muslim leaders ?"

For the lack of a better word, Gaza has become both a killing field, and a playing ground of the most heinous forms of military deception by any army to have ever existed in the modern times. Little wonder, when buildings come collapsing down, children of Gaza come screaming with the cryptic: “Where are the Muslim countries ? Where are the Muslim leaders ?”

Children who have come of age appear to know more than their agonized appearances give away. Where are they ? Palestine is surrounded by 21 member states of the Arab League. There are also 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  To be sure, there are Muslim leaders who have spoken out against the war. They too want an end to carnage in Gaza. But when the IDF and IAF continue to pound the territory of Gaza, the Muslim world’s traditional disunity in the past cannot suddenly unite in cohesion. That is the nature of realpolitik. 

When all sides do not constantly work together on their national interest. They will lose their comparative edge, even when they do possess them. In fact, up to 70 per cent of the food produce of Israel comes from Gaza too. 

West Bank has also called for 50,000 workers from India to help them complete their urban projects. What is a mess for Gaza is also one for Israel, just that the latter is heavily subsidized by the United States (US). Otherwise, the Israeli economy would be wobbling worse than it is.

Anyway, when the “humanitarian pause” ended on November 30th 2022—-after only a mere 7 days—-the hellish existence of Gazans began anew. More bombs and snipers began to take down their victims. That is the difference for now. Israel is not openly attacked yet. Thus, the last three months has had Gazans being the victims. 

Although the sufferings of Israel are intentionally kept obscured. More than 100,000 Israelis that used to live in the sectors closest to Southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights have also been evacuated by the IDF. With 187,000 Israelis being conscripted to fight the war, with another 380,000 reservists in the offing, Israel is losing an average of USD 14 billion a day according to Bloomberg.

The difference is, while IDF and IAF truly make mincemeat out of the Gazans through systematic bombing, anyone who purports to want to challenge IDF and IAF have not been able to do so. Meanwhile, the collateral damage on Gaza is huge with severe implications of a “loss generation.” How ?

All 36 schools that were managed by the United Nations Relief Work Agency (UNRWA) were subsequently decimated. Similarly of the 36 public hospitals in Gaza, all of them were damaged by the heavy bombings and munitions. Only 6 of them were temporarily restored. 

Hardly enough for 1.8 million people who truly must have needed some kind of medical attention after the carpet bombing. Even cemeteries that ostensibly have Hamas members were bombed twice. Therein the “banality of the evil,” to borrow a phrase by Hannah Arendt, author of the “Origins of Totalitarianism,” proceeded apace. 

So cavalier was the language of Israel, on the worthlessness of the lives of “others,” especially the Palestinians, any military operation in Gaza, which Israel had withdrawn from in 2005, was described in the dehumanizing language of “mowing the grass.”

As the language of IDF and IAF, even the legal team of Israel at the submission of the ICJ at the Hague attested, there were “no involved persons” in the attack of October 7th 2023. By this spurious logic, every Gazan, even unborn children, indeed, elderly men and women, hampered by old age and other problems of the such, were complicit in the crime. The circle of responsibility has been superimposed on a large military canvas although Gaza is but a small strip of land, with all its entries and exits all controlled by Israel before or after October 7th. 

If Israel’s military campaign cannot be described as methodical yet criminally disproportionate, that has no known equal in history since the end of World War II, one verging on sheer histrionics, there is probably no equal. 

The net assessment of the above can all be referred to as the ultimate cluster humanitarian mess of how the IDF and IAF had both gone on a ultra violent campaign. Imposed on the hapless population, where pregnant women literally have to give birth to their children in the streets, often while trying to trek to a seemingly “safer” location, when none was clearly available. 

How long does the War Cabinet of Israel led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, intend on prosecuting this diabolical campaign ? At least a year if not longer. Whether Israel is going for the remaining 100 captives in Gaza, perhaps sheltered under the 450 KM long underground tunnel, IDF has said nothing. Since the whole bombing campaign has failed to undermine the underground network, which is why Israel is totally frustrated.

On the latter, there lies another more elaborate tunnel network in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, that can empathize with the pain of the people in Gaza, has 150,000 soldiers ready to do battle with IDF and IAF; as they once did in 2016, where both Hezbollah in Lebanon and the might of Israel fought themselves to a draw.  As of now, Hezbollah has 150,000 rockets, and 2000 precision guided missiles at least. 

When the likes of Hamas, which has 35,000 to 30,000 fighting forces, of which some believe merely 3000 of the men had been decimated by IDF, with equal number if not more Israeli armies, killed by Hamas, Israel is looking at a conflict that it cannot just swoop in and win, either in Gaza or Southern Lebanon. 

To the degree the number of casualties are not sufficiently accurate, as they come from leaks of IDF to the left learning Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that places the culpability of the war straight on the door front of Prime Minister Netanyahu, it still cannot detract one from one key point, that IDF has got themselves involved in a highly complex military campaign.

It is an urban warfare that is extremely difficult to define as what represents “victorious” and others “defeats.” Indeed, by conducting the war without any respect to the laws of wars, also known as the “international humanitarian war,” Israel has drawn billions of condemnations from the world. 

There are many Jewish groups in and out of Israel who denounce this war as having “nothing to do with them.” One of them being B’Tselem, a respectable human rights organization that ranks on par with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. It was all three that meticulously produced thousands of documents that defined Israel as an “apartheid” state. 

More elaborate than the 84 page document deposited by the South African ICJ team, whose resolution was backed by Malaysia and Turkey. As things are, with the US and UK attacking Houthis on January 12th 2024; with Islamic Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IIRG) launching multiple missiles at the vicinity of the US Consulate in Erbil in the Kurdish area of Iraq on January 17th 2024, things appear to be morphing in an ever larger territory for the worst. This does not mean World War III is near. 

It does mean that October 7th is the one conflict that has upended the regional order of the Middle East; aggravated the role of Iran; and put Israel and the US in a vise-like situation especially during the election season where the US cannot divorce itself from Israel openly.


**This is an independent opinion of the writer.