Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1402, (19 - 25 July 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1402, (19 - 25 July 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Forcing the ‘deal of the century’ by killing children

On Saturday, Israel carried out dozens of air raids across the Gaza Strip in what it said was the biggest daytime attack since its 2014 aggression on the tightly besieged territory that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians. The raids resulted in the death of 15-year-old Amir Al-Nimra and 16-year-old Louay Kuhail. More than 25 other civilians were injured when the Israeli jet fighters indiscriminately bombed a heavily-populated residential area in Gaza.

Both children, Al-Nimra and Kuhail, were playing in a nearby park and were in no way close to any of the “military targets” Israel claimed it was aiming at. To cover its crime, Israel claimed the attacks Friday night were in response to an Israeli army officer sustaining wounds after a locally made bomb was thrown at him at the borders of the Gaza Strip on Friday. Meanwhile, there was no reference to some 150 Palestinians that Israel killed, up until Friday, while holding peaceful protests — known as the “Great march of return” — along the border between Gaza and Israel.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, together with other Palestinian factions responded by firing projectiles at nearby Israeli settlements, lightly wounding four. However, being fully aware that Israel wants to ignite a larger war in the hope of forcing Palestinians to accept the US-proposed, so-called “Deal of the century”, Hamas declared that it was not seeking to escalate the conflict and that it was ready to remain committed to the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire understandings reached in 2014.

According to leaked reports, under the US “peace plan”, drafted by Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, and dubbed by Donald Trump as the “Deal of the century,” Gaza is supposed to be the starting point in a long-term plan aimed at pushing Palestinians to give up their long-standing demand for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a real estate deal, Kushner and his father-in-law believe that if they offer Palestinians jobs and better living conditions, the Palestinians will accept giving up their aspirations and right to live as free people in their own land.

After a recent tour that included six countries in the Middle East, Kushner declared that the “Deal of the century” was almost ready, and that it would be announced very soon. However, the reality is that, except for Israel, all the Arab leaders Kushner met firmly rejected the details of this plan, and warned against releasing it at this time in particular.

The Egyptian leadership vehemently rejected even to open discussion on proposals, reportedly included in the American plan, that it agrees to expand the Gaza Strip by including Egyptian territory in northern Sinai, or even to launch industrial zones that offer jobs to Gaza residents in the same area.

Cairo remained open to consider any proposals to improve miserable living conditions in Palestinian territories in Gaza, such as improving power stations in Al-Arish to provide the Gaza Strip with much-needed electricity. With the approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate Palestinian leadership, Cairo was hoping to reach understandings that would allow Palestinians to move freely through the Rafah Crossing.

Egypt has also recently received a top-level Hamas delegation in hope of reviving reconciliation talks with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Without Palestinians reuniting, Israel will always find an easy way out and avoid reaching a peace deal by claiming that it didn’t have a united negotiating partner.

The sad reality is that Israel’s resort to large-scale air attacks Saturday was the latest escalation of its collective punishment of Gaza’s population, and comes as proof to its inability to stop the ongoing revolt against its 11-year siege of the territory. Israel has reportedly been particularly frustrated that it has been unable to stop the launching of incendiary kites and balloons that have burned fields on the Israeli side of the boundary.

Right after the latest round of attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “we will expand our reaction as much as needed. If Hamas doesn’t understand the message today, it will tomorrow.”

The loud and clear message that Netanyahu ignores or fails to understand is that the excessive use of military force and the killing of innocent Palestinians over the past 70 years of occupation has never succeeded in allowing Israelis to live in peace, or to normalise their relations with their neighbours, and the rest of the world.

Recognising Palestinian rights, and allowing them to enjoy their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the only way to settle this long-standing injustice and last remaining case of colonisation in the world. However, the international community and Arab countries should not stand idle and satisfied with issuing condemnations. Netanyahu needs to understand the message whether he wants to or not. That’s the reality the Palestinian people have clearly understood, opting for resistance and fighting for their legitimate rights.

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