UN Security council members China and Russia's efforts to secure peace in calling for a de-escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, could be curtailed by the US which has pledged to provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself.
This is according to conflict resolution expert and director at RiskRecon, Dr Kingsley Makhubela, following the attack launched by Hamas fighters on Saturday, which represented the biggest incursion into Israel since Egypt and Syria launched an assault in an effort to reclaim lost territory in the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.
“I think it’s going to get worse with the opening of another front by Hezbollah militia targeting an Israeli settlement in Lebanon.
“Hezbollah militia is well trained with sophisticated weaponry and you have Hamas on the other side posing a significant threat.
“The rhetoric from the American administration isn’t helping to de-escalate; instead, they're offering more arms they said they will give Israel whatever it takes to defend, adding to the tensions.
“Israel pledged to flatten the Gaza area. The Security Council is holding an emergency meeting.
“They are responsible for international peace and security, but the council is paralysed. Behind closed doors, the council seems unable to come up with a firm position, given existing differences, particularly concerning Ukraine. The fear of escalation is that it might send the entire Middle East into conflict,” said Makhubela.
In southern Israel, Hamas gunmen were fighting Israeli security forces 24 hours after the initial attack, with a multi-pronged assault of rocket barrages and gunmen who attacked army bases and towns, killing at least 600 people, according to Israeli TV, and abducting dozens more.
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza commenced shortly after the Hamas attack. The air strikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque and homes of Hamas officials in Gaza, killing more than 300 people, including 20 children, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “mighty vengeance for this wicked day”.
Hamas fired more rocket salvoes into Israel on Sunday, with air raid sirens sounding across the south, and the Israeli military said it would combine an evacuation of border areas with a search for more gunmen. The escalation comes against a backdrop of surging violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Conditions in the West Bank have worsened under Netanyahu’s government with more Israeli raids and assaults by Jewish settlers on Palestinian villages, and the Palestinian Authority called for an emergency Arab League meeting.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the assault that began in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Gazans have lived under an Israeli-led blockade for 16 years.
Meanwhile South Africa expressed its “grave concern over the recent devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
The Department Of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) in a statement said: “The new conflagration has arisen from the continued illegal occupation of Palestine land, continued settlement expansion, desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Christian holy sites, and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.
“The region is in desperate need of a credible peace process that delivers on the calls of a plethora of previous UN resolutions for a two-state solution and a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine.
“South Africa, working together with the international community, seeks to ensure a lasting and durable peace that produces a viable, contiguous Palestinian State, existing side-by-side in peace with Israel, within the 1967 internationally recognised borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
UN resolutions and international law matter.
The international community cannot avoid its duty to act, and together, we must shoulder the responsibility to remove obstacles to peace and any violations of international law.
“Violence, killings, imprisonment, forced removals, illegal settlements, and the continued siege of Gaza are not conducive to resolving the conflict. Urgent attention must be given to resolving the final status issues such as borders, the status of Jerusalem, the release of political prisoners, and the right of return.”
The ANC called for peace in the Gaza Strip.
Citing the accounts of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the ANC said: “It can no longer be disputed that apartheid South Africa’s history is occupied Palestine's reality. As a result, the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is unsurprising.
“The ANC stands with the people of occupied Palestine as it is clear that the degenerating security situation is directly linked to the unlawful Israeli occupation. Israel's policy of settling its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory and displacing the local population contravenes fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.
“The ANC supports calls on all sides to seize the opportunity for peace as opposed to violence and for the international community to actively rise on the side of its international resolutions and establish a credible peace process to bring the realisation of a two state solution based on 1967 borders, which also consider a right of return for displaced Palestinians.”
African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat added: “Denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly that of an independent and sovereign State, is the main cause of the permanent Israeli-Palestinian tension.”
He appealed to both parties to “put an end to military hostilities and to return, without conditions, to the negotiating table”.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk said: “This attack is having a horrific impact on Israeli civilians. Civilians must never be the target of attack. I note also that Israeli forces have responded with air strikes into the densely populated Gaza Strip. I call on them to take all precautions to avoid civilian casualties there. I call for an immediate stop to the violence, and appeal to all sides and key countries in the region to de-escalate to avoid further bloodshed.”
The DA said it supported “a viable and sustainable two-state solution based on UNSC resolutions 242 and 338”.
“While we recognise the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, we equally recognise the right of the Israeli state to defend herself and her people. We urge all parties to this historic conflict to return to the negotiating table to find a mutually agreed pathway to lasting peace,” DA MP Emma Powell said.