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The world on the brink of a major war?

While it has not used the word 'war', the US for one appears to be on a war footing.

Jamari Mohtar
6 minute read

The word "war" was first used by Israel to describe its response to the unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on Oct 7.

This itself is unprecedented because Israel did not consider itself at war with Hamas before Oct 7, despite previous rounds of conflict stretching back many years. 

Judging from the Israelis’ response so far, it looked really like the Israelis, instead of destroying Hamas, are bent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza by its indiscriminate bombings of civilian infrastructures – buildings, homes, hospitals, mosques, churches and schools.

The truth speaks for itself – Israel’s focus is not on destroying Hamas as can be seen in the less than a dozen deaths of Hamas’ military leaders at Israeli hands.

Instead it is the Palestinian civilian deaths that are mounting by the day. Such is the ferocity of the Israeli response that it has also paid scant attention to the issue of the hostages captured by Hamas.

In fact on a number of occasions, Israeli bombings on Gaza has caused the deaths of some of these captives and their Hamas guards.

Because it is so busy killing civilians, Israel has not given its due attention to release the Israeli soldiers and civilians taken captives by Hamas via "sophisticated" attack ala the Entebbe raid in 1976.

The Entebbe raid or Operation Entebbe, officially codenamed Operation Thunderbolt, was a 1976 Israeli counter-terrorist mission in Uganda launched in response to the Palestinian-led hijacking of an international civilian passenger flight operated by Air France between the cities of Tel Aviv and Paris.

After flying some 4,000km from Israel to Uganda, the Israeli force rescued the hostages within an hour after landing. All seven of the militants were killed, and 11 MiG fighters supplied to Uganda by the Soviet Union were destroyed; the Israelis lost one soldier and three hostages during the operation.

It seems Israel no longer has such an expertise or perhaps no longer has the stomach to conduct such daring operation and is contented with just killing civilians instead.

The next party on a war footing though it did not use the word "war" is the US. 

Within hours of the Oct 7 unprecedented attack by Hamas, the US began moving warships and aircraft to the region to be ready to provide Israel with whatever it needed to respond.

One US aircraft carrier and its strike group, the USS Gerald Ford, is already now in the eastern Mediterranean and a second one has left the US and is heading that way.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in recent days ordered the USS Dwight D Eisenhower carrier strike group to join the Ford in the Eastern Mediterranean, and those ships are now heading across the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition, three Marine warships are moving into the region. Scores of aircraft were dispatched to US military bases around the Middle East, and American special operations forces are working with Israel’s military in planning and intelligence.

The three marine warships include the USS Bataan amphibious ready group, which consists of three ships carrying thousands of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, into the region; the USS Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock, already in the Mediterranean Sea; and the USS Carter Hall, a dock landing ship in the Gulf region and is now heading toward the Red Sea.

Also as of Oct 17, five shipments of US weapons and equipment had arrived in Israel.
This is one of the most visible examples of the US response in the waters surrounding Israel – an array of massive warships are in or moving toward the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The ships carry helicopters and assault craft that can insert Marines into hostile territory or provide medical care or other assistance.

The carriers serve as command-and-control centres and can conduct information warfare. They carry F-18 fighter jets that can fly deterrence missions or strike targets.
And they also have E-2 Hawkeye surveillance planes that can provide early warning on missile launches and detect enemy movements.

So the key mission for American ships and warplanes is to establish a large and visible presence that will deter Hezbollah, Iran or others from taking advantage of the situation. 

But aren’t all these war-mongering stance the US is well-known for, have an ulterior motive? This is because since Day 1 of the conflict, Iran has said it is not involved in the Hamas’ incursion on Israel on Oct 7 because it was also caught off guard like everyone else.

Moreover US intelligence up till today has confirmed there was no Iranian involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel.

So why is the US so worked up with an imaginary war with Iran? From its action in sending many warships, it really looks like it is the US which is gunning for a fight with Iran.

It also looks like the US is an accomplice of Israel in the impending ground offensive, not so much against Hamas, but against the whole Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank by sending all these lethal weapons of mass destruction to Israel.

And it doesn’t make sense for Israel, the superpower of the region to cower behind the might of THE superpower of the unipolar world in facing the "might" of a ragtag resistance fighters that Hamas is.

For the record, US defence officials say the Biden administration has already given Israel small diameter bombs, other munition and interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome air defence system, and more will come.

The packages also include JDAM kits – essentially a tail fin and navigation kit that turns a “dumb” bomb into a "smart" bomb that can be guided to a target.

The JDAM bomb is said by some analysts to be the bomb that Israel had dropped on the al-Ahli Arab Christian Hospital in Gaza a few days ago that killed an estimated 500 civilians.

No wonder one good soul in the Biden administration is taking step to follow his conscience by resigning. 

On Oct 18, the US State Department arms transfers chief, Josh Paul, who has served as the director of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for more than 11 years, resigned over Israel.

Paul has characterised Washington’s rush to provide military aid as "short-sighted" and "destructive". He took his job knowing it entailed "moral complexity and moral compromises" and, strived to make sure "the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do.

"I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued – indeed, expanded and expedite – provision of lethal arms to Israel… I have reached the end of the bargain," he explained his decision.

Washington was repeating the same mistakes that it made for decades, he wrote. The policy is "an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia".

The next country to use the word "war" rather rightfully is Jordan.

On Oct 18, its foreign minister Ayman Safadi while emphasising that Jordan will not become complicit in another expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, also said the kingdom is doing all it can to stop the conflict but at the same time vowed to treat any attempt to displace Palestinians as "a declaration of war".

Amman will not allow "a new catastrophe" nor will it let Israel "shift the crisis created and exacerbated by the occupation to neighbouring countries", he added, as quoted by the Royal News outlet.

Catastrophe, or "Nakba", is how the Palestinians refer to their 1948 exodus from territories claimed by Israel. Jordan ended up annexing the West Bank while Egypt took control of Gaza, but Israel seized both territories in 1967.

Displacing the Palestinians from Gaza to another country would be a war crime, Safadi said, accusing Israel of already engaging in war crimes against the Palestinians there.

"There is no justification for what Israel is doing in Gaza," the Jordanian foreign minister said. "We demand for the war to be stopped, to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza Strip and to protect civilians."

Jamari Mohtar is editor of Let’s Talk!, an e-newsletter on current affairs.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.