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Truce vital as Israel-Iran rift sparks tensions

Experts call for commitment to avoid conflict from expanding further in region

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-17 09:23
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A team member of UNICEF helps a Palestinian girl who did not receive adequate healthcare get out of Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip, on Monday. MOUSA SALEM VIA GETTY IMAGES

Continued commitment to achieving a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and ending the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe remains the top priority for the world despite recent tension between Israel and Iran, analysts said.

They added that Israel's strategic maneuvers "represent a calculated policy of distraction", with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu becoming increasingly desperate for respite amid the domestic upheaval, legal challenges and dwindling support from traditional allies over Israel's military campaign in Gaza.

Israel's cabinet handling the Gaza conflict met for hours to discuss potential responses to Iran's "unprecedented" missile and drone retaliation over the weekend following the bombing of the Iranian consulate building and killing of Iranian officers in Damascus on April 1.

Amid a meeting with pilots at the Nevatim Air Base, which suffered minor damage from Iranian missiles, Israel Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said on Monday that a response is imminent, Xinhua News Agency cited a report by Israel's N12 TV news.

Arhama Siddiqa, a research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in Pakistan, told China Daily that Israel's "strategic maneuvers" represented "a calculated policy of distraction", albeit perceived as provocations by some.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu, amid internal upheaval and looming legal challenges, appears increasingly desperate for a respite," Siddiqa said.

"External pressures on Israel are mounting, even from its traditional allies, against the backdrop of shifting political landscapes, notably as the US approaches elections. While overt support for Israel persists, recent US calls for an immediate cease-fire underscore the intricacies of diplomatic maneuvering."

She also noted that regional actors, particularly those from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, had been actively seeking to prevent escalation, aware of the economic ramifications.

"Despite Israel's attempts at diversion, concerted efforts to contain the conflict underscore a collective commitment to safeguard regional stability and economic interests," she said.

"As countries prioritize economic goals, Israel's success in diverting attention remains tenuous, contingent upon the collective resolve to prevent further escalation."

Mohammad Salami, a nonresident fellow at the International Institute for Global Strategic Analysis in Islamabad, said the situation in Gaza "may be neglected". With Israel contemplating its response to Iran's weekend strikes, the region could enter into a deep conflict, he noted.

"Developments in Gaza in light of the recent rocket attack depend on two parameters: Israeli countermeasures and the type of reaction of the world community," Salami told China Daily.

"Given the reluctance of the United States to enter into a conflict with Iran, it is unlikely that this will happen, however, one cannot be certain. On the other hand, the international community may give concessions in order to appease and support Israel so that the region does not become tense."

Salami said Israel may use any concessions as leverage in Gaza and pursue its goal of eliminating Hamas. In this case, "innocent Palestinian citizens will be killed and the situation in Gaza will become more tense", he said.

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