Have you ever thought why Israel is not done with the cycle of conflicts in Palestine? I got the fatigue of reading similar civilians suffering stories from other protracted conflict zones like Kashmir and Ukraine to some extent over again and again. Notwithstanding, powerful belligerents are continuing to rage sheer oppressions applying different methods of killing and paining the weaker with renewed motifs and interests. When such violent operation continues rotationally from time to time for eternity, there is no way of measuring the magnitude of sufferings of those communities from the outside. We can only mention the arbitrary number of deaths count and blame the fate of the people of Palestine everything of whom has been stolen from the right to live to access to food and live with dignity and dream an average life?
The story of Palestinians being unwanted in their own land is rooted in the colonial past of British legacy in the Middle East. Since the end of World War II, Israel state had come in play with the United Nations’ (UN) approval. Do not get the impression of what UN does is rightful, especially from the initial years of its formation, UN as an organization which has been nothing but a permanent bandit of powerful players in upending their interests and imposing the wills on weaker in a bit more social and organized way so that revolutions do not erupt in the international system. Have you ever wondered why General Assembly’s decisions are only advisory where Security Council holds the deciding power with veto option for powerful countries? Leaders from the countries of ours only go there with a prepared fancy speech for peace but returns with hardly any impact. However, coming back to Palestine, we all know from famous map transformation in understanding how Palestinian lands have been sharply declining at a rapid pace. It all started with Balfour Declaration in November 1917. His letter was only 67 words in length containing the commitment of making an establishment in Palestine as a permanent home for the Jewish people. But it has turned out to be responsible for taking the lives of thousands of people during the last century while giving birth of the most protracted conflict on the earth. Palestinians comprised the 90% of the population in Palestine after the First World War with the British mandate by the League of Nations from 1923 to 1948, a massive wave of Jewish migration from Europe and all over the world had changed the total demographic pattern of Palestine despite many Arabs’ opposition through peaceful means. Palestinians had carried out protest during 1936-39 under the British rule against such infiltration but British have crushed the movement by mass arrest and demolition of homes of protesters to deter their rightful concern against Jews. Special Night Squad what is today’s refined version of Israeli Army had collaborated with British Army during that time. In the end, more than 5000 Palestinians had died and many more thousands were wounded and imprisoned. Demolishing home was one of the key tactics to soothe agitation. Israeli authority has been continuing this legacy in killing, humiliating, and oppressing the Palestinians constantly for the last decades.
With massive growth, Jews population grew larger from less than 10% to 33% share of the total population of Palestine by 1947. Before the end of the British mandate, newly born UN has revealed a partial plan which was highly biased in favor of Jews as 55% of the total lands were allocated for them and even Palestinians were deprived of fertile coastal regions leaving with timid possibility of economic sustenance. Naturally, Palestinians rejected such unfair plan dividing the territories. But Jews were even more ambitious to expand the border of their lands by using force. Therefore, they killed and burned Arabs and their towns in 1948 causing the first Nakaba. Jews were successful in capturing 78%, more than UN allocation, of the total Palestinian lands while leaving only 22% for Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both territories were separated by massive Israeli territories dividing the community to weaken. Besides, Israel had besieged the whole territory controlling lives of Palestinians to everything touched upon. Afterward, Six-Day war in 1967 caused another wave of displacement and further infiltration of illegal settlement in Gaza Strip and West Bank. Therefore, Israel made separate policies for settlers ensuring rights and state services while Palestinians were thrown totally under brutal military rule.
Economic incentives have played a key role in enlarging the settlement of Jewish population inside the Palestinians territories. A greater number of private companies, mainly builders and manufacturers, have emerged to steal Palestinian people’s lands and make establishment there. Since migration has been inward in Israel from Europe and America, demand for new homes and land for commercial ventures have been ever demanding. Since we are living in a globalized world, produces worth millions of dollars from illegal settlements are sold at the international market. Even capital investment from Israel would help it to profit in guise. We saw Western countries especially USA banned several products from Xinjiang region citing alleged Uyghur forced labor in China. But there is no such instance in the Western and Eastern world. Even Muslim countries could not take any vigorous step from state level in banning Israeli products. Even sarcasm is that a lot of authoritarian governments including ours buy sophisticated technologies from Israel to limit civil rights through surveillance.
First Intifada broke out from 1987 to 1993 in Gaza Strip. Movement had spread in West Bank as well. This is the moment when Hamas movement was established. Outcome of the first Intifada was the death of more than 1000 Palestinians and imprisonment of many. Oslo accords tried to resolve the ongoing conflict and granted limited power to Palestinian Authority (PA) to rule limitedly in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Most of the people of Palestine did not see this agreement as a way for reaching peace and consequently the second Intifada broke out in 2000. After the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, Israeli soldiers and settlers left Gaza Strip amid continued protest the next year. Civil war continued between Fatah and Hamas during this time. However, Israel imposed blockade on Gaza Strip through land, air and sea citing the acts of Hamas as terrorism in 2007. Since then, Israel has been constantly ranging military assaults inside Gaza by intervals in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021 and recent all-out ground invasion in 2023 killing more than 11000 lives as of 10th November. These operations not only killed thousands of people but also made a greater number of people homeless.
People sometime wonder why Jews people who have been persecuted many times in history are waging same oppression against the Palestinians. It is also painful but interesting to comprehend why Israel is repetitively attacking on Palestinians after interval. One reason could be Israeli authority’s belief in Hilter’s idea of living space or Lebensraum where state constantly seeks expansionism and get rid of other races. Another interesting fact is that Jews people enjoy sympathy for facing holocaust in Nazi Germany which is legit and to be condemned but reversely it is carrying out similar holocaust differently, I would rather say more brutally for decades but it has not been condemned. Rather constantly being supported and justified for its heinous military operations causing disproportionate humanitarian damage in Gaza. Irony is that none asks why Hamas has become this violent killing Israeli people as well. It has been observed from the very beginning that Israel is not interested in peaceful solutions of the conflict as well since it is constantly denying the UN resolutions. There is no denying that Israel is very much on board to exterminate the whole Palestinian community from their land and move outward eventually. Rationale behind such ambitious project is similar of Hitler’s. Israel has internal issues and such outer oriented military operations keep the whole nation closer and more integrated.
It may sound helpless that Israel would continue to suppress the Palestinians with it utmost power. It is true that we are living in an unfair world which is also very politically organized and interest is the supreme guiding rule for all actions and reactions. Role of the western and influential Arab countries depicts how confined they are with their own calculations in condemning Israel. As a student of International Relations, I cannot say that rapprochement between Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, and Israel will face a blow due to the recent Gaza Strip incidence. Probably it will stop Israel’s normalization in the Middle East for a time being but the old politics will return. Reasons behind such outcome is the normalization of Israeli violence against Palestinians. Lives and deaths hardly matter now for neighboring Arab countries, especially for statespersons. Support from the Western world will continue for Israel no matter how much human rights are violated against Palestinians. Western media’s role has been critical and unlikely to change.
One thing is perhaps clear from my discussion that the world we are living is not an ideal perfect place for surviving peacefully. If we look at the origin of state or authority in the primitive time, it was mainly the possession of violence to deter further spiraling of the violence implying violence as the precondition of peace. Realists say that human beings may have reduced the internal violence but could not eradicate it from the international arena. Likewise, Palestine case has become such an internationalized conflict with very local consequences. Hamas have surprised Israel and the world with its attack and bugging the security apparatus of Israel very well. Though the consequence of the attack is severe with Israel’s ground invasion. Alternatively, there was no hope of peace living under Israeli occupation. Hamas must have taken inspiration from the Taliban in defending Israel who faced years of pain and injury from Western military powers and own government but finally triumphed and literally rocking despite global pressures. Probably this is the reason why western countries do not want to see any success from another revolutionary Islamic organization. To be honest, every country who struggled for independence got some bad names like terrorist and miscreant. Therefore, it is worth fighting even if it takes sacrifices. Collaboration with other regional players like Hezbollah and other aspirant regimes in Iran and Turkey who want to revise the status quo of the Middle East. Successful role of China in negotiating Iran and Saudi Arabia hostilities have set an example how Chinese growth is skyrocketing. If it can replicate such negotiated peace, then it would really mean a lot for Chinese leadership. But hope for any change other than continued Israeli oppression on Palestinians is very limited as of now.
Author : Student, Peace and
Conflict Studies, the University of Oslo, Norway.