Biggest crisis in the Middle East for half a century
8 October 2023
The biggest crisis in the Middle East, since the October War in 1973, unfolded yesterday as hundreds of Palestinian fighters broke out of the Gaza Strip, and attacked Israeli towns and settlements nearby. In what is being described as an audacious operation, which was undetected by the Israelis despite it needing months of meticulous preparations and involving large numbers of people, it is reported that three hundred Israelis died and hundreds more were injured. The Palestinian fighters also took dozens of Israeli prisoners. Israeli has unleashed a punitive operation against the Gaza Strip, with rocket raids hitting the densely populated area which is the home of more than three million Palestinians, in what is sometimes described as "the biggest prison in the world". International Community scrambles to react The international community is scrambling to deal with the situations, and possible fall-out. There has been largely condemnation of the Palestinian attack, especially from the US and Europe, whilst other countries, such as Turkey, called for restraint. In the neighbouring Arab countries the events are being watched closely. Official statements from Arab capitals generally condemned the violence, but in the proverbial "Arab street" the mood is more sympathetic to the Palestinian fighters. The United Nations Security Council will meet Sunday (8 October) in New York. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland is expected to brief the members of the Council. The meeting was called by Malta, but later the United Arab Emirates also joined the call. According to the authoritative publication "Security Council Report", the meeting was initially requested in the private meeting format but was later changed to consultations after several members expressed a preference for the latter format. While both formats are closed to the public, consultations differ from a private meeting in that it is not a formal meeting of the Security Council. In addition, only Council members can participate in consultations, whereas member states whose interests are directly affected may be invited to participate in a private meeting in accordance with rule 37 and rule 39 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.