Possibility of peace between Israel, Gaza shattered by violence
With over 1300 dead, of which about 65 percent were civilians, and at least 5000 wounded in Gaza, Israel has reason to form the war crime defense team they did on Saturday — they will certainly need it. This defense team will tout justifications at human rights organizations, hesitantly complaining Arab states, and probably even the U.S. as it merely waves a disapproving finger at its spoiled child’s uncontainable rampage at a bunch of civilians. And these justifications, without doubt, will be accepted by each of these groups, making the once-seething violence nothing but a blurred memory.
In other words, the creation of such a “defense team” is nothing but a formative aspect of this war season’s Israeli propaganda. The reasons why Israel will successfully wrestle itself free from the grip of international law are difficult to comprehend without the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The bloodbath that took place in the war-torn Gaza strip, a wretched maze of refugee camps and grit pathways situated in the Palestinian authority, is not a recent phenomenon, and neither are the rest of the contributing factors: the U.S. involvement, the laid-back attitude of Arab governments, and the escalating scale of Israeli propaganda. A new facet of this conflict, however, is this dramatic defensive attitude adopted by Israeli leaders. They believe they have made the right choices and acted in the best interests of their people. But it is obvious that Israel went overboard and used Hamas’ primitive shelling of rockets on southern Israel as an excuse to wage a war against Palestinian civilians. According to The New York Times, the Israeli rationale can be understood with the help of a newly popular Hebrew phrase: “*baal habayit hishtageya*” or “the boss has lost it.” Giori Eiland, former Israeli national security adviser, explained that the phrase means, “If our civilians are attacked by you, we are not going to respond in proportion but will use all means we have to cause you such damage that you will think twice in the future.”
One of the major events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Balfour declaration by the British. This dual-faceted declaration was based upon the assurance of Palestinian freedom, but, on the other hand, pledged a commitment to the Zionist Federation, a private organization promoting the political movement to restore a “national home” for Jewish inhabitants in Palestine. Even though the Zionists did not trust the British, they inspired this short-term victory of a “national home” because they looked forward to influx of Jews from Germany, which they hoped would give the upper hand in Palestine. However, the Jewish people, a minority in the region, were left with Israel to call their own, thanks to the anti-Hitler Soviet Union.
Moreover, the fact that self-serving Arab leaders had given tacit consent to Hitler’s atrocities fueled Israeli anger and a desire for revenge against their Arab counterparts, leading to daily conflict in the region. In addition, the Arabs disagreed with the United Nations General Assembly’s 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, since it imposed massive iniquity upon the Palestinians, who were far greater in proportion to the Jews and were compelled to live as refugees in their own land. The Arab-Israeli war of 1948, initiated by Arabs, cost the lives of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis, but resulted in a larger Palestinian refugee count.
As Holocaust survivors swarmed into Israel, Israelis gained U.S. sympathy and an edge over Palestinians. Eventually, the people of Palestine were forcibly uprooted and turned into refugees as hundreds of thousands of European Jews were flown in. Then, in 1967, Israel acted upon its earlier intentions and colonized Gaza, the West Bank, and the mountainous Golan Heights. What we see today is the continuation of Israel’s colonialist expansion that began almost four decades ago.
Therefore, the scathing remarks issued by the media on Israeli forces are not in vain — last month’s warfare was initiated by Hamas militants, who are shameless enough to consider this war a victory. The Hamas, even though they were Palestine’s first democratically elected government, took radical, extreme measures to sustain power at the expense of the civilians. The paradox is that the more radical people are made to feel, the more radical they actually become — a cruel form of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Nevertheless, Israel’s response, just like its share of the Palestinian land, is dangerously disproportionate. In the name of national security, Israeli Defense Forces have avenged the deaths of eight Israelis by calculatedly killing or disabling thousands of Palestinians. By lashing out at Gaza, Israel crushed any possibility of peace between Palestine and Israel, unless those who were responsible for Israel’s war crimes are held accountable by international law. However, without any support from Arab states, most of whom would not dare risk their diplomatic relations with the U.S., justice for the Palestinian victims of war is highly unlikely.
Although some Arab countries were quick to donate billions of dollars to the reconstruction of Gaza, they are still divided over a sound reconstruction plan that none of them want to be directly associated with. Furthermore, Palestine is not recognized as a state nor is Hamas as a government — which makes this more of a civil conflict than an international crime. This places the reigns in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas, who is recognized by the U.S. as the President of Palestine, but who will never be foolish enough to officially accuse Israel of war crimes. So not only is Palestine at the brink of man-made disaster, it has nowhere to turn to for the help and rights deserved by its people.
Emerging from 22 days of massacre by Israeli forces today, Gaza has seen more than the loss of thousands of innocent civilian lives. It has witnessed a ruination of its identity. Regardless of culture or religion, one cannot erase from memory the images of hundreds of babies and children who were gunned down at point-blank range — taking with them to their graves any possible hope of an independent Palestine. Born out of conflict and tragedy, Gaza has witnessed the bloody pillage of its past, present, and future.