A number of research institutes and human rights organisations are attending a landmark conference in the Gaza Strip. The conference, which began on Saturday, is considering the "War on Gaza – Consequences and Future Prospects".
More than 300 specialists, researchers, strategists and political and military analysts from around the world are in the besieged Palestinian territory to attend the conference. Participants will examine the consequences of last November's Israeli offensive against the civilians of the Gaza Strip, and consider the prospects of further attacks in the future.
Expected conference outcomes include recommendations concerning any future confrontation between the Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces and how the people of Gaza are supposed to liaise with the outside world to enlist regional and international support.
Among the prominent attendees are the Palestinian thinker Moneer Shafiq, Egyptian intellectual and journalist Fahmi Howaidi, and the Palestinian-British academic Azzam Tamimi, the head of the UK's Institute of Islamic Political Thought.
On the first day of the two-day programme, speakers addressed the unprecedented outcomes of the Israeli offensive against Gaza. They noted that during the war Israel faced a new Arab environment, which "completely" supported the Palestinians and their resistance to the offensive. They stressed that a new strategic change has taken place in the region, of which Israel is very afraid.
The head of the Middle East Studies Centre in Jordan, Jawad Al-Hamad said, "Thanks to the Palestinian resistance, the Gaza Strip is now a strategic location in the Middle East. The victory of the resistance in November pushed many sides to re-assess their approach to rebuilding Palestinian infrastructure."
The Jordanian strategist, who described Hamas's control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 as a purge of the security services which conspired against the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said that Israel was surprised to discover that its intelligence was not accurate in the 2008/2009 war. "Hence, it was obliged to declare a unilateral ceasefire," he added.
The head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Salah Sultan, told the audience that it is important for all Arab countries to unify around a "firm" position in opposition to the Israeli occupation.
The head of Baheth Centre in Beirut said that the "Zionist project" is in retreat, the proof of which is that the Israelis are targeting civilians and engaging in propaganda wars. Waleed Ali affirmed that the Palestinian liberation conflict is "not only military, but also political, environmental, cultural and historical" in nature. "It is targeting Palestinian ideology, history, present and future."
Regarding the two-state solution, Mr Ali suggested that it would not be in the Palestinians' best interests. "It's a waste of time. Where are the borders of the Palestinian state? Where is its farm land, and where is the land bridge between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank?"
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad