After 10 days of air and sea attacks, Israel ordered a ground offensive against Gaza on Thursday, 17 July. The goal is to target tunnels used by Hamas to get inside Israel. The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers set the spark of the third conflict in a 17-year battle between Israel and Palestine. Their bodies were found on June 30 buried in a shallow grave near Hebron. As an act of revenge, three Jewish Israelis are now facing charges for the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager. They admitted to the kidnapping of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, from his house in East Jerusalem and to subsequently setting him on fire. Israel has accused Hamas of being responsible for the deaths of the three Israeli boys, while the murder of Abu Khdeir set off a week of protests and clashes with soldiers in East Jerusalem.

Hamas and Fatah have been waging their own battle for the control of Palestine. Hamas has been suffering subsequent blows with their loss of support from Iran and Syria in 2011 by supporting the insurgence against Bashar al-Assad, and Egypt in 2013 after the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power. The Egyptian government declared war on Hamas and cut off the tunnels under the Gaza and Egypt border. Before the kidnappings, Fatah was giving effective control by the national unity government. They started leading talks with Israel in an attempt to bolster their popularity. Israel however, decided that they were going to advance their settlements into the occupied West Bank.

Gaza’s police closed the Bank in protest to Hamas and Fatah’s constant disagreements. Palestinian forces aided the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in clamping down on Hamas in the West Bank. Street protests in Gaza were directed against the PA’s security forces. Hamas, in a desperate attempt to gain back the Palestinian support and be the champions of unity, launched attacks against Israel as a show of solidarity to the West Bank protesters. Intensive days of rocket firing and air strikes from both sides have followed. According to Gaza officials, since the attacks started on July 8th, 271 Palestinians, three quarters of them civilians, have died.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamim Netanyahu ordered the ground invasion after a failed ceasefire that only lasted five hours on Thursday. The UN negotiated the ‘humanitarian pause’ after four Palestinian boys were killed on a Gaza beach due to an Israeli strike. Egypt had also brokered a ceasefire, but for six hours, only Israel observed it. The Hamas spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri, formally rejected it and lamented the lack of Arab support. Three hours into the humanitarian ceasefire, rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. The Israeli Cabinet Minister, Naftali Bennett, gave an interview to CNN Thursday night. When asked about the Palestinian boys killed at the beach, he accused Hamas of conducting ‘massive self-genocide’ by ‘placing children and women next to missile-launchers and shooting missiles at Israel. They are killing as many Palestinians as possible in order to yell to the world: help us. This is cynical and cowardly.’

When asked why he voted against the ceasefire in the inner security cabinet even though the prime minister wanted it, he said that they should also demand disarmament alongside the ceasefire. ‘This whole thing can go away in one moment, Hamas needs to do one thing: stop shooting. We want to live peacefully side-by-side. The moment they stop shooting and disarm themselves, we stop, at that very moment.’

With the ground offensive taking place, and with possibilities to significantly expand, air raids have intensified in the North, South and East of Gaza. According to the UN, the number of displaced people jumped from 22,000 to more than 40,000 on Friday. IDF has truck more than 100 targets and uncovered 10 tunnels since the ground operation started.

IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, declared on Friday that ‘Gaza is sinking toward disaster. Gaza’s militants made a mistake when t hey decided to attack us.’ Obama supported Egypt’s attempt to restore the 2012 ceasefire. Furthermore, upon news of the ground incursion, Obama reaffirmed American support for Israel: ‘No nation should accept rockets fired in its borders’, however he expressed concerns about the risk of further escalation.

Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu tweeted that the ground operation is testing “the conscience of humanity”. The United Nations sent their secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, to the region today in a bid to end the violence. The Palestinian representative at the UN Security Council, Riyad Mansour, criticized the international community for its ‘failure to hold Israel accountable’ and for not imposing international law. Mansour pointed out the UN’s responsibility to uphold their duty to the Palestinian people and called for the end of the Israeli occupation and the blockade. He demanded that Israel pay for their crimes against humanity, while Israel’s Ambassador Ron Prosor declared that ‘they were left with no choice’.

The duty of the international community is to take action in cases of humanitarian crimes. On Wednesday we saw international law being used to file sanctions against Russia while Putin is in Brazil for the BRIC’s meeting. That was Obama’s way of driving Russia out of Ukraine. However, keeping Russian banks and energy companies from allegedly supplying weapons to Ukrainian militants isn’t the world’s priority right now. International relations is being rocked by a one in a lifetime event: a Malaysian plane is brought down by missiles in Ukraine, the US files half-scale sanction targeting the Russian economy, Israel launched a ground offensive towards Gaza and, lets not forget, Syria is still a mess.

Cold War resentments should be left at bay at this crucial moment. Diplomatic relationships are borderline Hollywood romantic drama as the West fails to take serious actions towards Israel in order to preserve ties but decides to target Russia instead. The US didn’t fail to step in when Israel launched a full-scale attack on the Suez Canal, resulting in the Suez Crisis of 1956, so what has changed now? Obama hasn’t been cheap on his ‘verbal threats’ to Putin, who has decided to pursue other ties with countries from the Global South.

Is the world on the verge of a second Cold War, or a third World War? Either way, everyone has their attention focused on Israel’s next step and on the investigations of the Malaysian crash. I have a feeling that somehow Israel won’t be charged with anything, but instead the cat and mouse chase will continue between Obama and Putin.

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