The Israel-Palestine Conflict - IV

Una imagen tomada desde el sur de Israel, cerca de la frontera con la Franja de Gaza, el 4 de diciembre de 2023, muestra un tanque israelí disparando hacia el territorio palestino en medio de los continuos combates entre Israel y el grupo militante Hamás - PHOTO/AFP/JACK GUEZ
An image taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 4, 2023, shows an Israeli tank firing into Palestinian territory amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas - PHOTO/AFP/JACK GUEZ

The Israel – Palestine conflict has now been a hot topic in the news ever since the brutal attack by Hamas on the kibbutz and surrounds, located just outside the south of the Gaza strip on 7th October last year. 

The whole strip was penned in by a strong safety fence which had been put up by Israel a few years earlier, such that the Palestinians were reminded that they were in a kind of prison dependent on power and water, and so that PM Benjamin Netanyahu could keep them apart-- apartheid. Hamas, while still controlling the strip, although much in the minority, wanted to show the vulnerability of the fence. They did but went much too far. 

The war has been principally between two groups, namely PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jewish right-wing, some extremists, on the one hand and Hamas thugs on the other, with the majority of people on either side reluctantly having to be involved. 

At the start Hamas handed the high moral ground to PM Netanyahu, but his over-the-top actions has gradually caused this to be lost, such that senior US Democratic Senator, Chuck Shumer, of the Jewish faith, strongly suggested that the Israeli government hold elections and Netanyahu step down. Most of the world has wondered for a long time at President Joe Biden, an avowed Zionist himself, why he could not take a stronger stand and to let his government continue to provide arms to Israel, such that approximately 850,000 Palestinians have been killed and the Gazan building infrastructure mostly destroyed. 

The anti-war movement has been gathering pace, despite PM Netanyahu still threatening to try to wipe out Hamas in what would be a bloody fight in Rafah, where there are about 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in tents or other makeshift accommodation. 

Most of these people have moved several times as the Israeli forces started on the city of Gaza, to the north of the Gaza strip, before pushing southwards, telling the Palestinians to get out of the way and go south. Now they are as far south as they can go, and now told to move again, get out of the way, and head north to areas which have been heavily damaged. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has his troops preparing a zone a kilometre wide all-round the Gaza strip, the area taken from the strip. His message is clear, once hostilities are over Israel, while not providing the government of Gaza he would exert a tighter control and there would not be a 2-state solution, which the western powers are aiming for. 

And what about the West Bank, land which is understood to be Palestinian? Israel surreptitiously is known to have taken chunks of it over the past years, encouraging their armed settlers to do it. Resistance by the unarmed farmers is met with force and imprisonment, but nothing surpasses the deliberate shooting of a 12- year- old boy, playing happily, by a sniper. The sniper was then congratulated and given a medal by right winger Cabinet minister, Yoav Gallant, for defending his country against a terrorist. The world has gone mad! 

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is yet on another tour to the area and has informed Netanyahu that the US supports the calls for a ceasefire, something they should have done some time ago and saved many lives. Meanwhile, their resolution to that effect, was opposed by the Russians and Chinese perhaps at it-for-tat for the US having vetoed a similar resolution three times already. 

Netanyahu has rejected the US suggestion and said, after Blinken had moved on, that he would pursue the Rafah initiative himself – with weapons largely supplied by the US! Some of the European countries that supplied arms to Israel have halted this at least until the war is over. The Israeli PM risks piling on more opprobrium to that he has to date, but that won’t stop him meeting his obsession to wipe out Hamas, which he believes, wrongly, he will achieve through the Rafah intervention. The main thing that he will have achieved is bringing the total of Palestinians killed to over a million and destruction of the Gaza strip, and Israel a reputation of being a pariah state, facing war crimes and guilty of genocide, much to the embarrassment of Jews across the world, the vast majority of whom are perfectly nice people, and do not deserve the antisemitic remarks cast at them.   

Finally, in this depressing saga, apart from the dismay caused by the weak response of the US, mainly, and the western countries, largely Britain in the early days before Lord David Cameron took on the Foreign Secretary role, is the huge humanitarian disaster. The denials of the Israeli military that they are not obstructing aid getting through and that it is the UN agencies fault, does not match the evidence.  

There are hundreds of trucks waiting to come in but the way in is barred for inspection by the soldiers who find any means to cause a hold up. A fraction of the 500 trucks needed daily are getting through, and people are dying from hunger and lack of water to drink. Such is the concern that countries providing aid, or wanting to, are looking to provide aid by air or sea. First deliveries have been air and one boat but the methods and quantities are meagre and will be perhaps too late for many people suffering starvation now. More land routes and faster deliveries are what is needed to avoid a death toll in the several hundred/week or more not to mention those killed daily by bombing. In addition, medical supplies are desperately required. 

Let us hope that we are near the end of this bitter struggle and start rebuilding the Gaza strip and give realistic long-term hope for the future to the remaining Palestinians in a land that is free. And one must not forget the West Bank as part of the 2- state solution. 

Dr J Scott Younger, International Chancellor of the President University in
Indonesia,Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Glasgow University and member of IFIMES Advisory Board

IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN since 2018 and is the publisher of the international scientific journal “European Perspectives”.