en the Israeli-Gaza conflict started to heat up and a senior Hamas leader, Ahmad Al-Jabari, was assassinated, I decided not to write anything about this conflict. My weekly column had already been sent. It was about the resignation of the head of the American CIA, Gen. David Petraeus. Ironically, the article was titled, “The battles American generals can’t win.” As a matter of fact, no one is a winner in a war because humans are killed by humans, and all I can say is, what a waste.
But, during the conflict, I have received e-mails and calls from many seeking my opinion, including a call on Friday from Wael El-Shaar of Al Jazeera TV channel asking me if I could participate in a discussion show called, "Inside Story." I couldn’t make it because I wasn’t close to their studios. So, I decided to write a brief article in the Saudi local newspaper (Alyaum). The reason I was hesitant to write a longer article about this new conflict is because the Israeli-Gaza conflict for me is like a sad movie that I had seen many times before. We know all the actors, producers, scenario and the end result. The movie has no net profit. Everyone is a loser. The killing is real and at this stage many people have simply lost touch with reality. The Middle East doesn’t need and not ready for major conflict. There is enough killing in the area. When I was writing this article, Alarabiyah TV announced the death of more than 50 schoolchildren in Egypt in a train-bus collision.
There were also reports about the killing of more than 100 people in Syria in one day (Saturday, Nov. 17). Ironically, there were close to 40 people dead in Gaza during the conflict as of the time of writing this article. So, we are losing touch with reality with regard to the meaning of human life. All religions stress how sinful it is to take a human life. Yet, humans continue to kill each other in the name of religion and all I can say is, what a waste.
Most of the news reports and columns I saw talked about who started it and why it got started. When it comes to human lives, what difference does it make irrespective of who started it or how it got started? The conflict between the Israelis and Hamas is simply a matter of time. There is no chemistry between the two. And I have heard and saw many speculations about why the conflict started. Some say it is a coordinated attack by Israel and Iran to save Bashar Assad of Syria. Some said it is a coordinated attack by Israel and Syria to ease pressure on Syria. In this part of the world anything can be said. The Israeli-Gaza conflict even became a war of words between Sunnis and Shiites all over the Arab world. Can you imagine Israel, Iran and Syria being united? The conflict didn’t need any reason to start, not even an election in Israel. Also, some people say, Hamas started it because they don’t want to give the Palestinian Authority a chance to go to the United Nations to elevate the representation status of Palestine to a be a non-member state. But, the most speculated reason was Hamas started it to avenge Israeli attack on the Alyarmouk weapon factory in Sudan. Also, there was a talk saying Israel started it, so they can drag Egypt into the conflict and this way, Israel can push the Palestinians to Sinai and then Sinai would be the Palestinian state. But, in my humble opinion, I saw the conflict coming long ago. Senior Hamas leader Ahmad Al-Jabari was a "walking dead" the minute he was seen in a photo during the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
I have written many articles about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And I always indicate my wish and dreams for peace in the Middle East. In one of my articles, I wrote the following: "I want to see a Palestinian woman with her child sitting next to an Israeli woman with her child and have the two kids shake hands, go to the same school, sit in the same class and share their playstation, because if they don’t shake hands in the presence of adults, they will end up fighting each other at the age of 15. This is why, whenever I see a dead child in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, all I can say is, what a waste."
In the beginning of the article, I said we have lost touch with reality. But, what is realistic about wars and battles. When we look at the power balance, it is easy to know what Israel has. A high school kid can talk to you about the Israeli F-16 fighter jets APG-66 radar or can even draw a picture of the Israeli F-15 APG-63 radar. But, what does Hamas has in its arsenal. If Hamas missiles are very primitive short range missiles, then they might hit Palestinian targets before they reach the borders. But, if the missiles have a range that can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, then Hamas has to be ready for an all-out war. Also, is it Hamas that is firing missiles toward Israel, or is it some groups that Hamas couldn’t control? But, at the end of the day, the Israelis will use more ferocious power and Hamas will fire more missiles. And more people will die.
The conflict will end sooner or later. And when the dust settles down, I would like to give Hamas and Israel a gift. The gift is a negotiating table, some chairs and two Mont Blanc pens to sign a peace treaty. This way, future generations would thank us for bringing peace and prosperity instead of war and atrocity. And if they don’t accept the gift, then I will say one thing — what a waste.
(The writer is a columnist at Arab News, where this article was published on Nov. 19, 2012) SHOW MORE
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