Merely two hours after coming into effect at 8 a.m. on Friday, the US-UN brokered 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collapsed after fighting broke out in the town of Raffah, in Gaza. Israeli military claims that militants attacked its soldiers while they were inspecting tunnels used by Hamas to launch attacks, leaving two dead and one missing, identified as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. Hamas confirmed capturing an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldier but claims that he was taken before the commencement of ceasefire. Now that the operation has resumed again, it is anyone’s guess when a new truce will be announced in view of the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
During the last three weeks since Israeli forces launched the operation in Gaza, the US has stood firm in its support for Israel. It continues to view Israel as its most reliable ally in an oil-rich volatile Middle East. Recent developments concerning Syria and Iraq have only served to reinforce the importance of Israel in terms of US foreign policy. Capitol Hill remains under the influence of a strong and effective Israeli lobby. Politicians across party lines, Democrats or Republicans, stand behind “Israel’s right to defend itself”. The American public concurs. Mainstream media has also done its part to ensure that the Obama administration doesn’t have too much explaining to do at home on account of civilian deaths during the ongoing Israeli offensive. The narrative revolves around rockets, tunnels and human shields, with little debate on the wider conflict and sustainable solutions. The divide between mainstream and social media is more apparent than ever.
The incident involving shelling by IDF of a UN school occupied by children has invited strong but carefully crafted criticism by the White House. While the attack was described as “indefensible”, the perpetrators were asked to maintain the “high standards” they have set themselves. Moreover, the US is supplying Israel with more weapons and ammunition. This conflict should remind us that political and strategic interests almost always outweigh humanitarian principles and ideals, and that vested interests and complex issues will ensure duplicitous double standards prevail. President Obama, ‘the leader of the free world’, will not and cannot withdraw support from Israel as long as the interests of his country are aligned with it. Arab countries will follow the same rule. Myths such as ‘a Muslim ummah’ can’t stand up to real power.