Tuesday April 23, 2024

The spectre of annihilation

By Abdul Sattar
November 10, 2023
Palestinians walk through a ravaged street following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, on October 10, 2023. — AFP
Palestinians walk through a ravaged street following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, on October 10, 2023. — AFP

The recent statement of an Israeli minister wherein he suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza has terrified billions of pacifists across the world. Israeli minister for heritage Amihai Ben-Eliyahu, who is known for his ultra-nationalist views, told Israeli radio that he was not entirely satisfied with the scale of Israel’s retaliation in the Palestine territory. When the interviewer asked him whether the minister advocated dropping some kind of atomic bomb on Gaza, he unabashedly replied that this was one option. The minister also asserted that Israel was “committed to doing everything possible to return the hostages safe and sound”.

The statement is being widely condemned by several countries. Pakistan's Foreign Office issued a hard-hitting statement, slamming this insane remark of the minister. In a statement issued by the FO, Spokesperson Mumtaz Zehra Baloch

said, “We are appalled by the statement of an Israeli minister threatening nuclear force against Palestinians”. She said the remarks reflected an “intention for ethnic cleansing and genocide...This is a wake-up call for the international community to the threat posed by Israeli aggression to regional peace, security and stability"..

The statement has also created a diplomatic storm in the Arab world where it is widely being slammed. Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the remarks of the minister revealed that the Zionist state possesses nuclear weapons – which is an open secret in any case. Tel Aviv has often been accused of following a racist policy against the people of the Palestinian occupied territories which it vehemently denies. Some say that the so-called only ‘democratic government’ in the Middle East is a modern apartheid state. Gheit believes the Israeli minister's statement reflects the racist mentality of Israelis against the Palestinians, and says that this is the true face of the occupation government.

The highly provocative statement of the Israeli minister has even infuriated those states that wish to normalize ties with Tel Aviv or already have ties. Saudi Arabia criticized the Netanyahu government for not dismissing the minister. “Failing to immediately dismiss the minister from the government and simply freezing his membership reflects the height of disdain for all human, moral, religious and legal standards and values of the Israeli government,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement. Friendly Jordan was even more incensed, asserting the minister’s remarks were a “call for genocide and a hate crime” against the Palestinians.

In any other civilized country such a minister might have been declared a lunatic and would have been sent packing within no time. But the right-wing Israeli ruling elite did not demonstrate any strong reaction, choosing just to suspend the minister’s membership instead of sacking the ultranationalist.

While the statement seems to have created a political storm in various parts of the world triggering a barrage of criticism towards the Zionist state, it doesn’t seem to have created much outrage among the Western ruling elites who have been following a policy of appeasement since Israel launched air strikes against Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian groups say the United States and other Western allies of Israel have adopted a criminal silence over this highly inflammatory statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to distance himself from the statement of his minister but avoided taking any stern action against him. His office also resorted to blatant lies to dispel the impression that the Gaza onslaught is meant to target civilians or is against international laws. His office described Eliyahu’s remarks as “disconnected from reality” and added that Israel was trying to spare “non-combatants” in Gaza. “Eliyahu’s statements are not based in reality. Israel and the IDF (military) are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory", said Netanyahu’s office.

It is interesting to note that the Israeli minister who made the incendiary statement is heading the heritage ministry and talking about using a weapon that could incinerate every trace of culture and heritage, plunging humanity into an abyss of annihilation. The appointment of such a fanatic on this important position also reflects the degeneration of Israeli society that also produced many progressive and conscientious people who lambasted their governments for the atrocities that they committed against the hapless Palestinians.

The silence of the Western world over this statement also exposes their hypocrisy. If the same statement had been made by a Russian minister against Ukrainians, the entire world would have sprung into action against Moscow. The UN would have been flooded with calls to condemn the Russian state. If any Chinese official had made such a statement against any enemy, that too would have evoked a very strong reaction from the Western media and politicians.

The states that are concerned about the wellbeing of this world or the planet must not sit idle. They must not forget that Israel loves to follow the only mighty state of the world that not only threatened to use nuclear weapons four or five times during the last 77 years but actually used them during World War II. It is already employing a highly disproportionate force against the Palestinian. What is more dangerous is Israel's dogged determination aimed at protecting its so-called national interest by going to any extent. It may also be mentioned that the Zionist state believes in a preemptive strike option, which it used in 1967. However, any such option in a non-conventional war would spell disaster not only for the region but the world as well.

Therefore, it is important for the international community to spring into action asking Israel to clearly state whether it is equipped with such weapons of mass destruction and also make sure its nuclear sites are open for inspection by the relevant global bodies. The nuclear doctrine of Israel should also be made public to allay the apprehensions regarding its offensive use.

It is difficult to use such weapons against the civilian population in Palestine but the escalating tensions in the region during this conflict might prompt other states of the region to intervene. What is more alarming is a possible confrontation between Iran and Israel. Tehran Is believed to have been backing the two militant outfits in Yemen and Lebanon. Such support could be used by Tel Aviv to target Tehran.

Any possible heavy losses of Israel during this on-going Gaza conflict might prompt Tel Aviv to execute its wish of targeting Iran and especially its nuclear reactors. Any such approach would be catastrophic. Until the Gaza invasion is halted, the specter of annihilation will keep on haunting billions of people. Therefore, all saner elements in the region should work for an immediate ceasefire. The leadership in Tehran should also realize that any fanning of the conflict could provide an excuse to Israel to work against Iranian interests.

The writer is a freelance journalist who can be reached at: