Talk about war is getting louder in the Middle Eastern press, with many speculating about a possible outbreak of hostilities not only between Israel and Hamas, but Israel and Syria, or Iran and a host of adversaries.
In a column in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Bradley Burston writes, “The countdown to the Second Gaza War has begun in earnest.”
The peace process is widely believed to be at an impasse, and there are other significant developments as well.
This week Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak publicly warned Hamas “to watch its step,” while senior Hamas and other Palestinian factions are warning of another Israeli offensive on Gaza.
And last week Hamas blamed Israel’s Mossad for the killing of one of its a top commanders in Dubai, UAE, and vowed revenge.
The Israeli Air Force has stepped up its bombing of tunnels in Gaza and is reacting with airstrikes every time a rocket is launched out of Gaza towards Israel.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, two Palestinian factions claimed responsibility for planting two barrels of explosives that washed up in an Israeli port, marking a new tactic and an escalation of the conflict.
Some experts say heavyweight Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a proxy war with Iran in Yemen over Iran’s alleged support of the rebels there.
Israel could in theory find itself in a war on multiple fronts. Earlier this week in a bold statement, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said war with Syria was inevitable, and added that Iran is still a central danger to Israel’s security and all options are still on the table in how Israel deals with Iran.
Just last week, the London based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Syria has called up its reserve military forces in anticipation of a full-scale war with Israel.
In Lebanon, the Secretary General of Hezbollah– the Lebanese Shi’a Islamist political and paramilitary group — Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, said his forces will “change the face of the Middle East region” if there is another war with Israel. The last time Israel and Hezbollah clashed was in the summer of 2006 and that war lasted for 34 days.
- Mohammad Al-Kassim
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