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Opinion: Netanyahu Is Keeping Hamas Alive And Both Are Gaining From Conflict

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10 May, Israeli parliamentarians Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett were to meet the president and inform him that they were capable of forming a new government. PM Benjamin Netanyahu was about to be ousted. Then at 6 p.m., rocket attacks from Gaza started and everything else is history. Once again, crisis and turmoil saved Netanyahu.

Only people are losing in the battle of Gaza as Hamas is also likely to get political benefits. Elections were to be held in Palestine this year, which were postponed by President Mahmoud Abbas. But for Hamas, this controversy has come as a chance to further strengthen its position.

Gaza
Representative Image.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 212 Palestinians have been killed so far, including 61 children and 36 women. The death toll in Israel is 10, including one child.

It is not difficult to predict the end of this violent dispute. Like earlier conflicts and war, there is a possibility of a ceasefire without any rational and reasonable agreement. Then the status quo will remain until the next dispute. So, why are the Netanyahu government and Hamas are stoking passions?

Last-minute respite for Netanyahu

Benjamin or Bibi Netanyahu had failed to form a new government after parliamentary elections held in early 2021. His right-wing Likud party received the most votes, but he could not form the government alone. Netanyahu needed an alliance.

Netanyahu wanted to form a government with Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party, but the latter refused. Then the president gave an opportunity to the second-largest party Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid to look for an alliance. Lapid now has time till 2 June.

Mansour Abbas of the Arab Party Raam was also in talks with Lapid. Bennett also came along. But on 10 May, the Gaza dispute began before Bennett and Lapid could begin the process of ousting Netanyahu.

Bibi Netanyahu has become the longest-serving Prime Minister. While Netanyahu has received political relief from the Gaza dispute, the situation for his opponents has become difficult. Mansour Abbas is considered close to Hamas. If Abbas joins the government amidst the conflict, his vote bank of Arab Israelis may get angry with him.

Abbas’s support is necessary for Naftali and Bennett. But given the increasing tensions between Jews and Arabs, taking the support of an Arab party can be a difficult and dangerous step.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about Netanyahu’s attitude towards Hamas. In 2009, Netanyahu came to power promising to end Hamas. 12 years have passed, but it seems Netanyahu wants to keep the organisation very much alive. Letting Qatar send financial aid to Gaza reinforces this argument. This year Qatar has announced to send $360 million in aid to Gaza.

A politically appropriate situation for Hamas

Jerusalem Dome of Rock
Dome Of Rock.

On seeing the events of 10 May and before, some things make sense. On 7 May, there were clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. From the next day, clashes started in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

On 10 May, Hamas gave an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw its security forces from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah before 6 p.m. or else it will launch a rocket attack. Israel celebrates this date as Jerusalem Day. Israel ignored Hamas’ warning and the celebrations began. Acting on the warning, Hamas fired six rockets, out of which only one could reach the outskirts of Jerusalem.

It did not cause damage, but Hamas’ situation improved among Palestinians with pictures of disruptions of Jerusalem Day celebrations, sirens ranging in Jerusalem and chaos. There was tension in Jerusalem for several weeks, but the Fatah Party-led Palestinian Authority could not do anything about it.

On the other hand, Hamas made a move towards becoming the leader of Palestinians by firing rockets in retaliation for Israeli action in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

While Netanyahu manages to survive political upheaval in Israel, there is a power struggle going on in Gaza too. It seems that Hamas’s political bureau chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and the organisation’s military wing Qassam Brigade chief Mohammad Deif are competing to become champion of resistance.

Deif had been missing from the scene for a long time and Sinwar was running Hamas in Gaza. But the ultimatum of 10 May was given by Deif. Sinwar barely won Hamas’ internal elections this year. It is said that since then, Sinwar has been spending more time on resolving the humanitarian crisis of Gaza. But after the al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah dispute, when Deif gave an ultimatum, Sinwar had to support him.

Hamas is not a very big militant organisation. Its influence is only in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority has more dominance in the West Bank. In such a situation, the possibility that Hamas is trying to expand its base among Palestinians of the West Bank by direct confrontation with Israel cannot be ruled out.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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