It’s 21 days today since the Israel-Gaza war broke out on October 7, 2023. The war was sparked by a surprise attack launched by Palestinian militants against Israel. The attack began in the morning with a barrage of rockets launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Israel. This consequently elicited reprisal attacks from Israel, which came out in full military force against Gaza.
Few days in to the war, Gaza had suffered devastions with mind-boggling casualty figures. As at the time of submitting this piece 48 hours ago, statistics on the side of Israel show that over 1,400 had been killed in attacks, over 5,000 wounded, 224 abducted (although few have been released), and over 100 reportedly missing. In the West bank, 103 have been killed while about 1,700 were wounded in attacks. These figures put together are far less than the loss and devastations suffered by Palestinians from Israel’s offensives in Gaza.
Israel’s indiscriminate bombardments on the entire residential areas, schools, hospitals, mosques, and churches in Gaza have killed over 6,500 Palestinians; nearly half of them children. This is genocide. Over 18,000 have been wounded, 1,600 still missing, and over 1.4 million Palestinians displaced; all in Gaza, and the counting continues. Two-third of hospitals in Gaza have stopped working and the remaining on-third is at the risk of running out of medical supplies. This a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Speaking at an emergency meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hussein Ibrahim Taha, described Tuesday’s attack by Israeli forces on a Christian-run Al-Ahli Baptismal Hospital in Gaza as “horrific massacre”, a war crime against humanity, and “a state-sponsored terrorism that deserves accountability and punishment.”
The attacks on Gaza are colossal, the killings are cannibalistic, and the destructions are barbaric. Between last Monday and Tuesday, a period of just 24 hours, 700 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Children are bleeding, crying and dying. 130 babies in incubators in hospitals are at the risk of dying when fuel, which URWA (a relief agency) says is at the point of finishing in Gaza. In all human civilizations, there are rules of engagement in conflict situations. Women and children must not be subjected to any form of attacks. I’ve not read or heard of any warfare where children became major victims as we have seen, so far, in Gaza. Israel has crossed the red line and its unceasing air strikes and ground attacks in Gaza simply amount to war against humanity. Because “too much of everything is bad”, the entire world is beginning to unite against Israel. Nations are speaking against Israel’s continued aggression in Gaza; a trend that seeks to de-popularize Benjamin Netanyahu on the global scale.
There have been street protests and rallies in solidarity with and show of empathy for the Palestinian people such as witnessed in Italy, Sweden. South Africa, Malaysia, and other places. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in his remarks made during a phone conversation with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan that Israel’s actions in Gaza have gone “beyond the scope of self-defence” and the Israeli government must “cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza.” Yet, nations that are known for playing double standards in global politics would not see anything wrong with the inhumanity in Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
The United States, for example, vetoed the UN Security Council resolution which called for a “humanitarian pause” in the raging Israel-Hamas conflict. Twelve out of 15 Council members voted in favour of the resolution put forward by Brazil and negotiated over several days; while Russia and the United Kingdom abstained. The US was the only vote against it, but as one of the body’s five permanent members, its vote counts as a veto. Nonetheless, the 57-member bloc of Muslim-majority countries under the aegis of OIC denounced Israel’s backers for granting “impunity” in the war in Gaza. The resolution also “urges all parties to fully comply with their obligations under international law.”
While unequivocally condemning the horrifying attacks by Hamas in Israel, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians or the launching of rockets against civilian targets. He also accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law in its invasion of Gaza. Addressing the 15-member UN Security Council at the UN Headquarters in New York last Tuesday, Guterres was fair enough when he said, “Appalling Hamas attacks cannot justify collective punishment of Palestinians.” This comment, however, earned Guterres condemnations from Israel authorities as Israel’s Representative to the UN quickly called on him to resign. This prompts one to ask whether Palestinians are half citizens (though in their own land), and therefore, do not deserve attention; or whether Israel is above international laws, and therefore, cannot be called to order.
But more importantly, why is no one pushing for the two-state solution (TSS)? The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine along side the State of Israel. The Arab League and the UN do not seem to be doing enough to resolve the grey areas that are preventing the TSS from actualizing. Palestinians are demanding full Israeli withdrawal from territories it occupied in 1967; a demand rejected by Israel. On the other hand, Israel is demanding that the territory of the former Mandate Palestine (including West Jerusalem), which did not form part of the Palestinian State, would continue to be part of Israel.
Recall that in 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted UN Partition Plan for Palestine, which was not implemented. In 1974, a UN resolution on the “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine called for “two States, Israel and Palestine … side by side within secure and recognized borders” believing that the borders of the State of Palestine would be “based on the pre-1967 borders.” The Palestinian leadership embraced this concept since the 1982 Arab Summit in Fez, Morocco, and in 2017, Hamas accepted the idea of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
It would be a huge moral burden on world leaders if they sit back and watch lsrael use starvation as weapon of war to sustain its holocaust in Gaza; more so, after Mahmud Abbas has declared that he’s ready for peace talks even now. May Allah touch the heart of world super powers to stop playing politics with the Israel-Gaza war and work for the actualization of the TSS, amin.