In an attempt to secure the remains of their own soldiers, and civilians who’ve been kidnapped, Israel has stated that it is withholding bodies of Palestinian militants. Hamas has declared that they’re holding two soldiers, who’ve previously been declared as dead by the Israeli military. They’ve also stated that they’re holding two Israeli civilians who had been caught is Gaza.
It comes after Israel enacted a policy that meant that those killed in Israel would be buried instead of being returned to Palestine as had previously been the case. They also proposed that bodies that had previously been buried could be exhumed and returned to Palestine, but only if Hamas is prepared to return the living citizens and soldiers.
This marks a new dark chapter in the ongoing problems between the two countries who’ve been at war for decades over disputed lands. It appears that in the face of a UN resolution against them, Israel have decided to ignore it and put more pressure on Hamas. These acts are only likely to inflame tensions between the countries.
Both countries are yet to make any reasonable attempt at peace in the region. After decades of mediated negotiations the relations are no better than they ever were. The US failure to veto the resolution appeared to show that even Washington has had enough of intervening in the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been extremely aggressive against outgoing US President Barack Obama, claiming that he is to blame. Certainly there’s been moves from the Obama administration to try and at least mediate, but Israel’s continued building of illegal settlements has found them few friends at the United Nations. Even their oldest friend the US has turned their back. Though if he’s to be believed, President elect Donald Trump will attempt to repair the damaged relationship between the countries.
The use of the dead as political pawns between the two warring factions is unlikely to sit well with much of the world. It seems that the war between the two is set to continue for some time, as neither is truly prepared to take the lead. Israel will come under increasing pressure, as they, at least on the surface, appear to be trying to make their way in the world. It is thought that Israel may need to give slightly more in the way of concessions if the war is ever to end. A move which is highly unlikely under the current government, and makes any future peace seem highly unlikely.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.