Osama Al Sharif
Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.
Israel’s war on Gaza, now almost two months old, has polarized the world and created a yawning rift between people and governments in the West, with millions of Europeans and Americans marching for a “free Palestine” and ending the occupation, while their governments continue to support Israel’s military campaign in Gaza without calling for a permanent ceasefire.
Israel’s war on Gaza has polarized the world in an inconceivable way; one of its outcomes being the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Both are extremely dangerous and have led to a spike in hate crimes, especially in the West. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), there has been an “appalling” rise in reported anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias incidents in the month since violence erupted between Israel and Hamas.
From the onset of the Israeli war on Gaza, now entering its seventh week, Jordan has taken an exceptionally extreme stand in denouncing the Israeli onslaught; His Majesty King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi openly accusing it of committing multiple war crimes, and calling on the West to cease choosing how and when to apply international law.
What will our region—and indeed the world--look like once Israel concludes its war in Gaza? The statistics coming out of the beleaguered narrow strip of land, where 2.3 million Palestinians, 70 percent of whom are refugees from previous wars, once lived, are staggering.
No one knows how Israel’s war on Gaza, now entering its second month, will end and what the final civilian toll will be. But when the guns finally go silent and the dust settles, the Middle East and, indeed, the rest of the world will wake up to a new reality. Whatever happens to Hamas will mean little compared to the human cost already endured: more than 10,000 deaths, almost half are women and children, and more than 25,000 injured. The level of destruction is beyond description, not seen anywhere since World War II.
It is difficult to imagine how Israel can declare, and relish, a victory after a three-week war against Gaza. What would that victory look like? Would it be the destruction of Hamas’s military wing and the killing or capitulation of its top leaders? The cost for both Israel’s military and the Gaza population would be unbearable. Or, will it be a picture of a convoy of tanks pummeling through the skeletal streets of Gaza City? A few square kilometers of a buffer zone in the northern Gaza Strip may also suffice. The war will go on as long as US and Western backing of Israel’s devastation of Gaza cities, towns, and refugee camps is allowed.
As Israel’s war on Gaza enters its third week, there is still no indication that a ceasefire will take place soon, despite growing public pressure in the US and other Western countries for an immediate pause so that essential humanitarian convoys can go through uninterrupted.
Regardless of where one stands on the Israeli war on Gaza; when the dust finally settles on the killing fields, the world will not be the same. The 7 October attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel and what followed in the form of a frenzied Israeli reaction has polarized the world in a way not seen since the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq. That attack has significantly altered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict trajectory for both sides and beyond. It is an understatement to declare that this latest war in the Middle East will have resounding aftershocks that will rattle an already teetering world order. The comparisons with Russia’s war on Ukraine notwithstanding.
“The first casualty of war is the truth.” The phrase remains valid more than 100 years after US politician Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said it.
Joe Biden does not watch Al-Jazeera's live feed. Why would he? Richi Sunak does not follow social media. Why would he? Western officials have no interest in watching real-time massacres of Gaza babies. That would spoil their appetite.