Gaza Strip, a narrow strip of land located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, has long been a city shrouded in controversy and conflict. With a population of approximately two million people, this small territory holds immense significance as it serves as a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the bastion of Arab resistance to the oppressive Zionist regime in Tel Aviv.
The history of the Gaza Strip is intertwined with the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Gaza Strip initially emerged as an Egyptian-administrated territory after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, the territory came under Israeli occupation. In the 1990s, as part of the Oslo Accords, control over the area was handed over to the Palestinian National Authority, alongside the existence of Israeli settlements in specific regions. These settlements were evacuated in 2005 as part of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza. In 2006, Hamas won the last-held Palestinian legislative election, leading to Fatah’s refusal to join a proposed coalition. A brief unity government collapsed, resulting in separate administrations in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel the European Quartet imposed economic sanctions on Hamas. A brief civil war in Gaza ended with Hamas as the sole governing power. Since Hamas’ takeover, Gaza has been under a land, sea and air blockade by Israel and Egypt. This prevents people and goods from freely entering or leaving the territory.
The majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which contains eight refugee camps, are descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sunni Muslims make up the predominant part of the population in the Gaza Strip, and there is a Palestinian Christian minority. Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% (2014 est.), the 13th highest in the world, and is often referred to as overcrowded.
Today, Gaza is under total lockdown, besieged with no water, fuel, electricity or food allowed in, its people called “human animals” by their Israeli aggressors. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his fascist partners are turning Gaza into “rubble” with indiscriminate bombing and shelling killing 576, including 91 children and 61 women. The Israeli military are targeting residential buildings, obliterating whole families, as well as hospitals, ambulances, healthcare workers, mosques, schools, refugee camps and public service organizations. Such wholesale destruction and slaughter of civilians is vicious, inhumane and unprecedented.
The blockade imposed by Israel has had a profound impact on the lives of Gazans, resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis. The zero access to essential resources such as food, water, electricity, and healthcare has created dire living conditions. Amidst the challenges, there are signs of hope and resilience within the Gaza Strip. Despite the terror of persistent Israeli bombardments and difficult circumstances, the people of Gaza have shown remarkable strength and determination.
The Palestinian people have long been seeking justice, asking for a global rule of law that would hold Israel to account and curb its persistent criminality. Instead, the Palestinians have been maligned and dehumanised while Israel has been given unlimited support and immunity by its Western allies led by the United States. Everything that the Palestinians do, in Gaza and elsewhere, must be interpreted in this context.
Israel launched reprisal airstrikes against Gaza after Hamas, which controls much of the territory, sent commandos deep into Israel on Saturday in an operation called “Al Aqsa Flood”, killing about 260 party-goers celebrating festival of dance and overrunning Israeli military bases.Interestingly, even the day chosen by Hamas for the start of the operation was quite symbolic – the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The three days of heavy clashes have resulted in at least 900 dead Israelis and at least 830 dead Palestinians, according to the authorities in West Jerusalem and Gaza, respectively.
Following the attack, Netanyahu announced the start of a full-scale war, promising to leave the Gaza Strip in ruins.
The Western media presents Hamas’ attack on this festival of dance as the ultimate savagery. And savage it was. But the much greater savagery is thinking it normal to maim, obliterate and gleefully dehumanize innocent people – partying in full view of the torture chamber that is Gaza. If there is an enduring image of how Israel so completely embodies the most obscene elements of settler colonialism, it is young, carefree Israelis holding a rave on the edge of an open-air prison, encaging 2 million Palestinians.
Equally worrisome was the statement by the Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that the Israeli government has abolished “all rules of war” during the clearing of Gaza. Mr. Gallant made the declaration while addressing the soldiers and population of Israel. He stated that he relieves the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the soldiers of any responsibility for everything that will happen in the Gaza Strip. In other words, Gallant gave the troops carte blanche for any violence and the most prohibited methods of warfare.
“We have abolished all the rules of war. Our soldiers will not be held responsible for anything. There will be no military courts,” Gallant was quoted as saying.
Israel has the right to self-defense, but some of the decisions its government has made are contrary to international humanitarian law.
The United Nations announced on Tuesday that it will investigate ‘war crimes’ by Israel and Hamas the former already being accused of using the banned white phosphorus, a chemical agent, in southern Lebanon.
Things have reached this point mainly due to the actions and inactions of the United States as it relates to the Middle East conflict. The US has continually sidelined Palestinian grievances and buried any chance for a two-state solution – and with it, any chance for peace.
The US President Joe Biden administration together with decades of failed American policy decisions in West Asia, set the stage for the eruption of the horrifying violence we see today in Palestine and Israel. Washington sidelining the Palestinian cause for statehood and seeking a symbolic normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia is the last straw that broke the back of the elephant.
What Hamas just did from Gaza would never have happened if the US had pursued a somewhat rational approach to the region. It could even have been prevented if the US had presented a political plan to de-escalate rising tensions in the occupied territories. Instead, the American government decided to overlook the armed groups in Gaza while attempting to completely dismantle their cause. And all of this for what? A fancy photo op that Biden can use to steer the Democratic Party to victory in next year’s presidential election by claiming that he brought peace to the Middle East. Due to the current conflict, normalization doesn’t seem to be on the table anytime soon anyway, which would mean Hamas’ offensive has not only dealt a blow to Israel, but also to the US.
Now that Israel is at war with Gaza, what is the US doing? It is condemning one side, while arming Israel and greenlighting any action it takes.
The world must deal with the root causes and change this paradigm of oppression and inequality.