Whether we see this latest round of escalation of violence between Israel-Hamas in isolation or consider the entire Israel-Palestine conflict from 1948 on, Israel hands down wins in this grotesque game of geopolitics where there are apparently no rules and no amount of barbarity is too much, the bombing of Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital in Gaza city (which Israel denies) killing over 300 civilians being a recent example. For the sake of numbers, over 5000 Gazans have lost their lives with over 8000 wounded and 1400 Israelis have been killed, with close to 220 taken hostage in this current round of violence.
Let us be clear that Israel has a right to defend itself and live in peace and prosperity and that Hamas’s recent atrocities are to be condemned by one and all. Those facts no one is contesting, what can be contested without doubt is the apartheid in the West Bank and the prison-like situation in Gaza, both being Israel’s own creation. Now this to any reasonable person would appear like a paradox, because the question arises, how do you live in peace when you create a situation which is unbearable and inhumane to the population that is subjected to it, i.e. the Palestinians? They are bound to revolt and resist for their own survival as is human nature.
The answer to the above question lies in a quote by Ben Gurion, considered by many as the George Washington of Israel, “It’s not a matter of maintaining status quo. We have to create a dynamic state, oriented towards expansion”. Every action of Israel’s since then has been expansionist, imperialist and that of an oppressor. One only needs to compare the maps from 1948 to the latest ones available to understand what that means. Despite the Oslo Accords and Camp David, we never really saw any real progress made. In fact, now it’s evident that the withdrawal from Gaza which was then touted as a step towards meaningful peace, was just a charade, as what followed soon after was much worse.
The expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and depriving the Palestinians of their lands, increasing settler violence supported by the state, and everyday harassment of locals by soldiers is not hidden from the global community, it is in fact done with the full consent of the powers that be and most brazenly. To anyone relatively well versed in geopolitics, it’s evident these actions are geared towards creating a demographic majority of Jewish settlers so that the question of a future Palestine is erased in itself.
The plan for Gaza on the other hand has also been made somewhat transparent. The demand for 1.1 million people to move from north to south Gaza is essentially cleansing the area of Palestinians. They will never be allowed to return to their homes is a given, as also made clear by Israeli minister Gideon Sa’ar when he said “Gaza must be smaller at the end of the war”. President El-Sisi of Egypt is already fearing a second Nakba as he refused to open the Rafah crossing for refugees, as he believed they’ll never be allowed to return (and of course this will exacerbate an already fragile security situation in the Sinai”.
Even if one observes from a political point of view, Netanyahu’s increasing engagement with Hamas (through Egypt and Qatar of course) and sidelining of Fatah was a deliberate move to weaken the moderates and make them irrelevant; knowing fully well that Hamas will never become a credible partner in any peace process. As a result, the right to a Palestinian nation with secure borders and peace is not even a debate anymore.
Aside from what might be Israel’s intentions vis-à-vis the Palestinians, another aspect of this conflict has been made abundantly clear, and that is how disposable Palestinian lives are in the eyes of the global West and of course Israel. The language used for them by many Israelis has genocidal connotations, a case in point being the Israeli defence minister referring to Palestinians as “human animals”. Almost half the population of Gaza is under 18, and the constant bombardment of innocent children is being seen as necessary and in some extreme cases even applauded by Western leaders. This level of selective empathy only for Israelis and complete apathy for Palestinians is mind-boggling. The dire humanitarian conditions that have been created are met with chants of “we stand unconditionally behind Israel”, with zero consideration for any kind of international law.
While it is understandable, that those inside Israel are finding it hard to be objective because when you are a part of a conflict your thought process becomes very insular and singular, not to mention the generational trauma the Jewish diaspora and Israel have inherited. But what about the rest? Can they not see some form of history repeating itself? When they said “never again” they didn’t clarify whether it was meant for white people only, or was it to be assumed?