On Aug. 5, four weeks after the clashes began, Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire proposed by Egypt.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 1,800 people have died in Gaza since fighting began whereas Israeli officials say that 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have lost their lives.
Outrage against Israel’s violation of international law has led to protests around the world including Israel itself against its militaries atrocities in Gaza. Yet, on the official front, there hasn’t been much of a reaction save for cursory statements of disapproval from various heads of states and the United Nations.
Most interesting is that Saudi Arabia too has chosen to stay mum on the issue. The Saudi king only broke his silence three weeks in to the conflict ironically condemning the international silence over Israel's "state-sponsored terrorism'' and to lay the blame of the “collective massacre” on Hamas.
For once the kingdom didn’t put all blame on Israel, nor did it demand any actions from it to rectify the situation.
“It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this,” the king’s statement read.
It didn’t end there, “They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes,” the king’s statement went on to say.
The delayed and altered reaction of Saudi Arabia, considered by Muslims all over the world to be the protector and custodian of the faith, may be baffling to most.
But it shouldn’t be.
The reaction or the delayed reaction is just a signal of the consequential change in Middle East geopolitics that has gone largely unnoticed by most. The Arab-Israel enmity does not necessarily include Saudi Arabia anymore.
What is at the end of the Saudi Arabia’s sword of disapproval though, is Iran. Iran, a predominantly Shi’ite state which is challenging everything that Saudi Arabia, its Sunni counterpart stands for. The discord between the Shi’ite and Sunni sects of Islam is age old and long drawn out. In the recent times it has been overshadowed by the kingdom's other concerns, which includes the threat of a Zionist domination.
Saudi Arabia is a strategic and ideological opponent of Iran. What’s more, it may even be a covert supporter of Israel to counter the Shiite threat.
It may seem extraordinarily tough to stomach, but the signs have been present for discerning eyes.
Some leads that cement this as a possibility are as follows:
- Secret meetings between the Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and Israeli official in Geneva in November 2013.
- The $10 billion arms deal between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
- Talks of an anti-Iran defense alliance with a number of moderate Arab states including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
You may like to read: Israel and Saudi To Become Bedfellows Against Iran?
Perhaps, for Saudi Arabia, letting Israel weaken Iran-allied Hamas is now more of an interest than a few thousand innocent Palestinian lives.
After all, your enemy’s enemy is your friend.