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HIT AND RUN

With the killing of the Hamas leader, Ahmed al-Jabari, and its fierce attacks on Gaza on Wednesday, Israel has struck another nail into the coffin of the peace initiative in west Asia. It is undoubted that Israel has lately seen extreme provocation from the Hamas leadership in Gaza that has combined a steady stream of rocket fire with direct attacks on Israeli targets. This, together with the violence in the Sinai peninsula on Israelís border with Egypt, the Golan Heights and the borders with Lebanon, has created a siege mentality in Israel. The country senses, and not without reason, that the Arab Spring, which has led to the advent of pro-Islamist governments in many of the countries in the neighbourhood, has emboldened anti-Zionist forces such as the Hamas and Hezbollah and left it both vulnerable and isolated. Israelís backlash is a result of this state of mind. However, the action also bears an imprint of the swift political changes taking place within the country, which has seen an unprecedented advance of right-wing forces. This was epitomized by the merger of the Likud Party with the orthodox Yisrael Beiteinu last month. With the virtual death of Israelís left-wing that was responsible for the peace accords with Palestine, the war-mongering in Israel has gathered steam, particularly in the context of the elections early next year. The development has also killed off all enthusiasm for negotiation with the moderate Palestinian forces such as the Palestinian Authority, thereby providing a fillip to the influence and ambition of the radical elements in the movement for Palestine.

It is ironical that instead of condemning Israel for its murderous assault, which took place in spite of the Egypt-negotiated tacit peace agreement on Monday between Israel and Hamas, Western nations such as the United States of America have jumped to its defence. The proffered argument is that nations have the right to self-defence in the face of vicious attacks. Strangely, they do not apply the same logic in the case of Syria. The Westís double standards are causing grievous harm to the resolution of the festering conflicts in the region and are responsible for further polarization among world powers. Egypt, which has been acting as peace-broker in the region, has already expressed its displeasure over the conduct of affairs in Syria. It may now be forced to stand together with other Muslim nations such as Iran that call for punishment to be meted out to Israel.