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Gaza (More)

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As Israel tries to finish off the rocketing capabilities of Hamas so that an effective ceasefire can be put in place in Gaza, there are a number of very significant revelations which the confrontation has affirmed which could prove to be powerfully important to Israel's case in the world. It will require very significant admissions from many world powers, but they are extremely important for the Western powers confrontation with radical Islam. Regardless of how and why the current fighting evolved, Hamas's conduct has proven incontrovertibly the total rejection of many Western humanitarian values many of which Israel has contended have persisted for years.

UNWRA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency, UNWRA, which runs schools and relief agencies throughout the world but historically has been a major force in the Middle East—very critical of Israel–publicly announced when one of its schools in Gaza received a surprise on-site visit, that it found scores of rockets being stored in the school. As Israel has claimed for over 30 years the placement of weapons caches as well as delivery systems in schools, hospitals, playgrounds, etc., of necessity have created consistent danger of potential civilian casualties should Israel seek to destroy Hamas or other anti-Israel forces with minimal collateral damage.

Interviews by international reporters in Gaza have obtained dramatic and candid commentary from local Gazans about their resentment of the Hamas regime. One specific observation gave credence to another Israeli allegation which was always rebuffed by many observers at least since the battles in Jenin in 2002. The man commented that he had remained in his home despite being told by Israel to evacuate and despite having sent his family to safer locations. He reported that he was staying behind so that Hamas would not booby-trap his home as they had done to other houses which were being evacuated. He wanted to save his home from being destroyed in a fire fight.

The extent of the randomness of Hamas' rocket shooting consistently being aimed at Israeli population enclaves with no military or security targets in range affirmed again the gross disregard of Hamas for civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict.

Much will now depend on whether Israel’s respect for human life and civilian casualties will be recognized by a world community which is largely holding Israel to totally different standard.

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Geopolitically Speaking

There is a very significant observation about how the traditional, conservative Arab regimes see radical Islamists like Hamas. The Saudis and the Gulf States with the exception of Qatar have been remarkably quiet throughout the conflict as Israel pounds Gaza. They have tacitly supported Egypt as it as fronted for a ceasefire which in essence will help to stabilize Israel and de-fang Hamas. Presumably the Sisi Government will be a serious beneficiary of Saudi backing and largess as a result of playing such a significant role in trying to bring about the ceasefire and at the same time helping to destabilize the Muslim Brotherhood. As long as casualty level of Arabs killed by Israelis does not escalate too high and too fast, the Saudis and its backers will be very willing to see the militants degraded.

While the U.S. and the West will continue to call for human rights demands and a humane ceasefire, the conservative Arabs do not see all human life as equal. It is the West with lip service alone from the Arab League pushing hardest for a cessation of hostilities. Ultimately, a neutralized, de-militarized Gaza will not undermine the region at all especially not from the perspective of Egypt or the Saudis. It remains to be seen how and why Turkey and Qatar continue to back the Hamas fight, except as part of the larger pan-Arab and pan-Muslim fight for leadership of their world. Here, as they have been doing in Syria, both Qatar and Turkey continue to support more radical regimes.    

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