The Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas has launched a massive attack on Israel. It was an indiscriminate act of large-scale terrorism and an outrageous form of warfare. By attacking civilians and non-military targets, Hamas violated international humanitarian law, the Law of War.
There can be no justification of any kind for the atrocities committed. Israel has responded with airstrikes and other actions. Heavy fighting continues at this time. The number of dead on both sides is surging.
In addition to thousands of rocket attacks, Hamas fighters have invaded Israeli territory, killing or taking hostage numerous civilians. Hamas must immediately cease its militant actions and release the hostages.
A Desperate Need for Restraint
On the other hand, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has hailed the Hamas attack on Israel as "heroic." Iran has strong influence with Hamas and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah. If Iran and Hezbollah become actively involved in the fighting, the situation will become dramatically more chaotic.
Japan, the United Nations, and other concerned nations should call for restraint from both Hamas and Israel and do their utmost to mediate.
We must at all costs prevent the warfare from spreading.
Iran's Influence with Militants
Hamas effectively controls the Palestinian state-ruled territory of Gaza. And it has long engaged in repeated military clashes with its "sworn enemy," Israel. But the current incursion is unprecedented among its large-scale cross-border attacks.
In recent years in the Middle East, Arab nations have been wary of an Iran which seeks to increase its influence by supporting regional militant groups.
Finding Peace with Arab Nations
There has also been a relative weakening of the confrontation between Israel and the Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, a leader in the Arab world, and Israel have been negotiating the normalization of diplomatic relations. Moreover, the United States is acting as mediator.
As a result of these developments, Hamas has become increasingly frustrated. It is concerned that "the Palestinian issue is being left behind."
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Those aimed for a "two-state solution." However, negotiations have stalled since then due to Israel's hardline stance and other factors. That, however, in no way justifies an attack that took so many lives.
US President Joe Biden has supported the "coexistence of two states," and we would like to see him play the role of "Middle East mediator." Since Japan enjoys good relations with Israel and Arab countries, Japan too could play a major role.
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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun