The World Forum - May 20th, 2024


Bowen: Five new realities after four weeks of Israel-Gaza war


By Jeremy Bowen
International editor, in southern Israel

One of the first things to understand about the reportage, analysis and commentary that has poured out since the Hamas attacks of 7 October is that no-one has the full story. Not only is it, as ever, hard to penetrate the fog of war to work out what is happening on the battlefield. The new shape of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has not yet emerged.

Events are still moving fast. Fears that the war could spread are very real. New realities in the Middle East are out there somewhere, but their shape and the way that they will work depend on the way this war goes for the rest of the year, and probably beyond.

"Gaza is going to suffer… no nation will agree that your neighbour will slaughter babies, women or people. Just like you (Britons) crushed your enemy during World War Two. This is what we need to do in Gaza. No mercy."

From the first days after the Hamas attacks, President Biden has supported Israel's decision to use military force to remove Hamas from power. But he has also added the qualification that it needed to be done "the right way". He meant that Israel should observe the laws of war that protect civilians.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Tel Aviv. Before he took off, he said: "When I see a Palestinian child - a boy, a girl - pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, that hits me in the gut as much as seeing a child from Israel or anywhere else."