Israel-Palestine Escalation
Israel was hit by an unprecedented rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on October 7, with Hamas movement's troops infiltrating border areas. On October 8, the Israeli government announced that it had invoked Article 40 of the Basic Law, which means the country was officially in a state of war.

What Is West's Role in Gaza Escalation?

© AP Photo / Adel HanaPalestinians inspect the rubble of the Yassin Mosque destroyed after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, early Monday, Oct. 9, 2023.
Palestinians inspect the rubble of the Yassin Mosque destroyed after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, early Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 09.10.2023
Since the recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, questions have been raised about the origin of the weapons used by the Palestinian movement Hamas amid massive and "uncontrolled" NATO military aid to Ukraine during its ongoing conflict with Russia. Several experts have weighed in on the issue for Sputnik Africa.
Three African experts in international relations and security studies noted that the West's poorly controlled arms proliferation, which aggravates conflicts around the world, could play a role in the latest stage of the Gaza crisis that erupted over the weekend.
Dr. Anne Abaho, who teaches at Nkumba University in Uganda, Dr. Ian Liebenberg, a political scientist and professor at the University of Namibia and Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and Dr. Oscar van Heerden, a senior research fellow at the Centre for African Diplomacy and Leadership at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, spoke to Sputnik Africa about the latest developments in the Middle East and Ukraine.

West's Role in Arms Proliferation

The experts said the West has played a "very huge role" in the proliferation of arms and the export of wars to the Middle East and Africa.
They cited the example of a US Congress member who wrote on social media that American weapons given to Ukraine may have been diverted to the Middle East and are now involved in the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

"In as much as the US is continuously saying that they can keep track of the weapons that they've given the Ukrainians, the truth of the matter is that we simply don't know what has happened to very much small and large weapons that have gone to Ukraine and some of it could potentially have found its way to the Middle East," van Heerden said.

Liebenberg agreed, saying that there must have been "multiple companies" that were tasked or paid to assist in the transfer of weaponry to Ukraine, and that there was "a lot of siphoning off" and "no full transparency and control."
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 09.10.2023
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Abaho added that Western countries used to "empower" one of the parties in conflicts by supplying them with weapons and neglecting the root causes of the conflict, such as economic, political and cultural factors.
"In terms of during the conflicts, of course, when the weapons are in the hands of people who are ill-trained, who do not understand how these weapons should be used, and when and against whom, or even if they are in the hands of people who understand, you have basically empowered them, given them a go-ahead because they have weapons and the others do not have weapons to protect against the attackers" she said.
The Ugandan academic said this has a huge impact on peace agreements, instability and post-conflict peace-building.

Israel's Intelligence Failure

The experts also criticized Israel's missile defense system, known as Iron Dome, which was designed to protect the country from rocket attacks by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip.
They said the system did not work as promised and was caught off guard by the Hamas offensive that killed more than 800 Israelis, wounded thousands more and kidnapped more than 100 others.
Abaho argued that security is not only about physical protection or investment in weapons, but also about people's feelings about their territorial integrity, economy, political participation, and determination of their political destiny.

"Having an Iron Dome that Israel has is as good as having a wall around your house, and you think everything is safe," she said.

Smoke rises after the Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. Israel's military battled to drive Hamas fighters out of southern towns and seal its borders Monday as it pounded the Gaza Strip.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 09.10.2023
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Dr. Abaho said that Hamas had a long history and a commitment to "getting rid of Israel or winning back what they believe Israel has taken from them, no matter how long it takes and how many lives have to be lost."
Van Heerden questioned the effectiveness of Israeli intelligence in anticipating and preventing the Hamas operation from Gaza. He suggested that Israel may have known about the attack and for some reason allowed it to happen, or perhaps "did not see it coming.
"Look, I mean, apart from whichever way you look at this, it's either one of two things. A massive intelligence failure at the proportions, some are even saying at the proportions like 9/11 in the United States, they simply did not see this coming. They did not have the on the ground and so on and so forth. It's either that or they knew it was coming, and they allowed it to happen," he said.

Ukraine Consequences

The experts also said that the Gaza crisis would have consequences for Western support for Ukraine, which has been waging a "proxy war" against Russia for more than a year and a half.
According to Abaho, the West's resources would now have to be redistributed to counter the various groups fighting Western interests and foreign policy.
"Yes, the commitment will remain there, but resources have to be redistributed to be able to counter different groups that are fighting American interests and American foreign policy, as in the case of Israel," Abaho said.
Liebenberg concurred: "The West will now have less resources available for Ukraine because they will have to deal with this new crisis in Israel."

Palestine-Israeli Conflict

Saturday marked the deadliest offensive that Israel has experienced in 50 years. More than 3,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Saturday morning. In addition, dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated border areas in southern Israel, killing and capturing dozens of Israeli soldiers and officers.
Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinians and destroying many buildings. Israel also declared war on Hamas and imposed a total blockade on Gaza, cutting off supplies of food, water and electricity to its two million residents.
The death toll from both sides has surpassed 1,300, including foreign nationals. An unknown number of Israelis, both civilians and soldiers, have also been taken hostage by Hamas.