Arab Countries Stay Silent As Death Toll Climbs In Gaza

| by Jared Keever

Israel seems to have garnered at least tacit support from Arab countries in its fight against Hamas in Gaza. 

The New York Times reports that since the ousting of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has brought together a coalition of Arab states which effectively sides with Israel in the ongoing conflict. 

Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all seem to now oppose Hamas, the more radical and militarized faction of the Palestinian leadership that controls Gaza. 

Historically, those Arab states have put political pressure on Israel during times of violence between the country and Gaza. The silence from those countries now seems to have delayed a cease-fire in the current conflict that has seen more than three weeks of fighting. 

Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator, said the lack vocal support for Hamas — which is deemed a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S. — is surprising.

“I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” he said. “The silence is deafening.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu,” Miller added.

Egypt has traditionally moderated talks between Israel and Hamas. But when the new government offered a cease-fire agreement that met nearly all of Israel’s demands and none of Hamas’, the Palestinian group flatly rejected it. The government in Cairo has refused to offer another, saying that the original proposal remains the starting point for any further talks.

Meanwhile the death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,300 in the three-week-old conflict. 

The Guardian reports an Israeli attack killed at least 15 women and children who were sleeping in a school in a Gaza refugee camp. The camp was reportedly hit by five shells Wednesday night. More than 100 people were injured.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon denounced the attack as “outrageous and unjustifiable.”

The Palestinians in the camp had reportedly fled their homes after Israel warned that their lives would be at risk if they stayed. 

Some Palestinians say they feel betrayed by the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“Sisi is worse than Netanyahu, and the Egyptians are conspiring against us more than the Jews,” one Gazan storekeeper told The New York Times. “They finished the Brotherhood in Egypt, and now they are going after Hamas.”

Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian

Photo Source: Fady Fars/Middle East News Agency/AP, Wikimedia