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'It's a challenge of Biblical proportions': Former British Army chief reflects on Israel-Hamas conflict

by Kelly Valencia

A former chief of the British Army has told Premier he is sceptical the current pause in fighting in the Israel-Hamas conflict will lead to a comprehensive ceasefire.

Lord Richard Dannatt, who is also a Christian, made the remarks as Israeli authorities and Hamas consider extending a four-day truce expected to end on Monday. To date, the truce has seen the release of 39 Israeli hostages in Gaza and 117 Palestinians from Israeli jails.

The 72-year-old retired General sees the roots of the conflict and its complexities tracing back to Biblical times.

"This isn't an issue that's just gone on for years. It is not an issue that is gone on simply since 1948, when Israel became a state. Frankly, it's an issue that's gone on for millennia. When Moses stood on Mount Horeb and looked into the Promised Land, what perhaps was overlooked was that the promised land to which he took the children of Israel was already occupied by other people. So, in a sense, the two-state solution has been being sought by people for millennia.

"So, it is genuinely an issue, a challenge of biblical proportions, to try and find a way whereby the Jewish people and the Palestinian Arab Muslim people can coexist within the territorial envelope of what we now call Israel or Palestine."

On Monday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that while they are willing to extend the truce for a day for every ten Israeli hostages Hamas releases, the armed conflict will continue "until Hamas is destroyed".

Reflecting on the past six to seven weeks, Lord Dannatt voiced apprehension that recent events may have set back the prospects for a lasting peaceful solution. He acknowledged the tendency for positions to polarise and harden during such conflicts, complicating the path to compromise.

The former leader of the British Army concluded: "I think as Christian people, quite rightly, our concern should be expressed in our hope for the future, and to pray for a better hope for the future. But on the face of it, as things currently stand, it looks like a pretty intractable problem. And there isn't an easy and obvious path towards peace."

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