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A Different Arab Spring: Has Israel Opened the Gates of Hell by Targeting Hamas?

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The reactions to the killing of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari by the Israeli defence forces are on expected lines. Barack Obama expectedly put his weight behind Israel and at the same time cautioned Eygpt not to over react. A White House spokesman supported Israel's right to self-defence against rocket attacks from Gaza.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an "immediate de-escalation of tensions." In a statement, Ban said that "Both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and they must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times." He also spoke to Netanyahu and Morsi. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip.

Let us cross over to the other side of the Atlantic to find out how the rest of the world reacted to Israel's action. Britain issued a neutral statement. "We continue to call on all sides to exercise restraint to prevent a dangerous escalation that would be in no-one's interests," a British Foreign office statement said.

However, as we move closer to the Arab world the reactions get shrill.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said that "the Israeli escalation comes at a critical point in the Middle East which threatens to harshly exacerbate matters." The Muslim Brotherhood asked the Arab world to boycott Israel. The Freedom and Justice Party asked Cairo not to ignore the harming of Palestinians. A party spokesman said that "this crime warrants a swift Arab and international move in order to stop the acts of carnage against the Palestinian people in Gaza which Israel's government uses as a bargaining chip as part of the political conflict in Israel."

An interesting development, although largely symbolic to assuage local sentiments, was the recalling of the Egyptian ambassador in Israel. The Egyptian TV network did not clarify whether the envoy was recalled for consultations or to express displeasure of the Israeli action.

It does not require great punditry to analyse the response of world leaders to the Israeli action in Gaza. America has merely restated its position on any conflict in which Israel is involved. The Jewish state can do no wrong as far as official America is concerned. In the present standoff Israeli action was justified because Hamas rockets were killing civilians. However, there was no mention of 13 Palestinians, including two children killed in the so-called counteroffensive by Israel.

The Arab world's response to the strike would fall in the category of posturing. A Hamas statement said that Israel had "opened the gates of hell". It said Israel has declared war on Gaza and it would pay dearly for it. Why just Israel? Every party that gets sucked into the conflict "would have to pay dearly". As far as Hamas was concerned it was now "open war" with Israel.

Away from the glare of mainstream reaction the civil activists and web community too joined the battle, and it seemed to be going against Israel. An online posting read that "a protest movement is already gathering momentum in response to the Israeli's warmongering rhetoric. Hacktavist group Anonymous reportedly attacked the Israeli Defense Ministry website.They claimed to have blocked it, posting the trademark hashtag "tango down" on Twitter".

Not surprisingly, more than 100 activists parked themselves outside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Tel Aviv apartment complex "to protest the IDF's offensive". They brandished anti-war banners and chanted slogans against the minister, such as "Defense minister, defense minister, how many kids did you kill today?", "Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples", "Money for welfare, not war" and "No war for tycoons." According to reports Israel's Meretz Hadash and the newly-formed Pirates Party had a strong presence at the protest.

"This will only bring death to Palestinians and Israelis, and we call on everybody who is able to come stand by our side and fight against this step before civilians and soldiers on both sides are killed," said Amit Ashkenazi, a spokesman for Hadash to the Jerusalem Post.

Haifa and Jerusalem too were getting ready for protests against "warmongering".
If the social media could tilt the balance of real power both the US and Israel would end up on the losing side. Here is a random selection of the online's community response to the military action in Gaza.

1. Benjamin Netanyahu is an egomaniacal, trigger-happy, deranged lunatic who should be in a mental institution.
2. It is so sad that people have to suffer because of crazy politicians like Bibi Netanyahu.
3. This looks like the start of Israels "expansion of the Jewish people"="to allow more space for ourselves"=Now who said that in the late 30s?? =For a people who hate the Nazis they are copying their every action =word for word.

An amusing aspect of the current conflict is that even the IDF announced the attack not through an official statement from the office of the President or the Prime Minister. It made the announcement through its Twitter account!

The message from the @IDFSpokesperson account said, "The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets."