'We are hated': Israelis feel isolation over Gaza war

Israel suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks last month (JACK GUEZ)
Israel suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks last month (JACK GUEZ)

A series of diplomatic setbacks, strong condemnation of a recent Gaza strike, and intense protests on Western campuses have left Israelis feeling their country is unfairly isolated.

Israelis expected unwavering support from their allies and the international community after Hamas's October 7 attack.

But as Israel's retaliatory offensive against Hamas in Gaza deepened, it seems to have lost the sympathy it initially received after the unprecedented attack.

This loss of support intensified following last week's Israeli strike on a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, which killed at least 45 people, according to Gazan officials. The military has denied targeting the camp.

The strike drew condemnations from Istanbul to Beijing and from Washington to Paris.

On social media platform Instagram, more than 47 million posts with the hashtag "All eyes on Rafah" have been recorded since the strike.

But Israelis remain defiant despite the growing isolation.

"I don't think Israel should care what the world has to say... I support our military 100 percent," Netanel Aronson, a 24-year-old Israeli-American, told AFP.

"I pray for them every day that they should be safe and come home."

- 'Tragedy for everyone' -

At least 36,379 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run territory.

Israel's retaliatory campaign came after the Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took 252 people as hostages, of which 121 are still held in Gaza, including 37 the military says are dead.

"It is a tragedy for everyone," said Nathalie, who declined to give her last name, referring also to the fate of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"Since everybody is connected, we can see what's happening. We feel that we are hated," the 50-year-old said.

"We have the feeling that we are accused of being colonialists and imperialists. But we see ourselves as refugees," she added, echoing the feeling of many Jews who arrived during the creation of Israel in 1948.

The Palestinians call the creation of Israel as the Nakba -- or "catastrophe" -- when about 760,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes by the war over Israel's creation.

Last month, Israel faced a series of diplomatic setbacks.

While the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its ongoing offensive in Rafah, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought arrest warrants for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, along with three senior Hamas leaders.

Ireland, Norway and Spain also recognised a Palestinian state in a coordinated decision on Tuesday, while Slovenia's parliament is due to vote on such a proposal next week.

- World 'against Israel' -

Political analyst Dahlia Scheindlin said Israelis were aware the war was damaging their global standing.

"(Israelis) think the world is against Israel. They think that many institutions and countries are anti-Semitic, and that there is a double standard," Scheindlin said.

She regretted the "devastating" impact of the war on Gazans, but said Israelis see the ongoing military campaign as an "existential struggle" for their people.

Scheindlin said Israelis have been demoralised over the setbacks at international tribunals after Israel was accused of committing some of the worst crimes in Gaza.

Such crimes "Israelis believed were only ever committed against them", she added.

"So, it's very hard for them to accept this. They fear the isolation."

Israelis are also countering the social media campaign "All Eyes on Rafah," with their own that says "If your eyes are on Rafah, then help us find the hostages".

In a survey by US-based Pew Research Center before the May 26 strike on a camp of displaced people in Rafah, 40 percent of Israelis thought the country would "definitely" achieve its Gaza war goals.

Only four percent of the Jewish majority thought Israel's military response in the Palestinian territory had gone "too far".

But for Christians like Annie Dikbikian, the war has only increased "the hatred" on both sides.

"It's affecting us... as Christians," said the Jerusalem-based hairdresser, who hoped "peace, love, and respect" would return soon.

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