New Telegraph

February 26, 2024

As Gaza Continues to Bleed

T hose who turned Palestine to Golgotha left the world without addressing the future. Gaza represents their collective guilt which continues to offer intractable crises leaving the Middle East hanging between the devil and the deep blue sea. Arthur Balfour, a former British Foreign Secretary, came up with the Balfour Declaration in 1917. The idea was to locate a national home for the Jews. Historical and religious attachment meant that the lands of Arabia would serve that purpose after Uganda was rejected.

The October 7 storming of Israeli settlements by Hamas is an extension of diplomatic miscalculations following the end of the Ottoman domination of a large chunk of the Middle East. It reminds the world of Europe’s interest that has kept Africa and Asia bleeding from past injuries. In what they codenamed ‘Operation Al Aqsa Flood’, Hamas militants took Israel unawares and dealt deadly blows which affected all continents of the globe. More civilians died in the process. How missiles hit targets in heavily fortified areas in Tel Aviv says a lot about the new wave of destruction. Israel, expectedly, responded in kind.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a state of war. He asked Palestinians to leave Gaza or face dire consequences. Food, water, fuel and electricity supplies have been cut off as part of war efforts. While we condemn the bloodletting ignited by Hamas in this latest intifada, we also condemn in very strong terms, the blanket punishment imposed by Jerusalem. Asking over two million Palestinians to evacuate without providing an alternative is akin to a death sentence on the vast majority of the population who are not members of the militant group.

The world is already faced with a massive refugee crisis, the conflict in Gaza will create more displaced persons. Some of these homeless souls may be attracted to militancy which can be exported across borders. Neither Europe or America will be safe. The crisis has created camps. The United States and many countries of Western Europe are behind Israel. The Arab World sees Palestine as a sister nation. Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are watching. They will definitely not walk the same path with America and its allies. The globe has not recovered from last year’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Opening a front in Gaza may push the world to another war. The Americans have sent a strike force to the Mediterranean to boost Israeli morale. This calls for caution. It is heart-warming that Turkey and Saudi Arabia want a peaceful way out of the crisis. Efforts are being pursued along this line. Might is not always right. The Russians know better. Israel must ask questions about Hamas initial success. We call for peace talks that will genuinely look at the past to manage the future.

The Oslo Accord of September 1993, which was signed at the White House, guaranteed relative peace. Israel recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) while the PLO renounced terrorism and agreed that Israel has the right to exist in peace as a state. It is indeed a diplomatic mistake to reduce Palestine to Hamas accountancy. Not all Palestinians are terrorists. Many of them want to live in peace with their Israeli neighbours. There are Israelis who are ready to embrace their Palestinian friends. Former Israeli negotiator, Daniel Levy, believes Israel will not have security under an insecure Palestine.

The United Nations must continue to bark. Both sides have violated the rules. Elections are coming up in the United States. Joe Biden is not going to hurt Israel. Netanyahu also wants to remain in power. What we refer to as acts of terrorism has often been committed by both sides. Swedish diplomat and UN Mediator, Count Bernadette, was assassinated in the line of duty on September 17, 1948 by Jewish militants. Earlier in 1945, the Stern Gang, an Israeli group, blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in an effort to get the British, whom they saw as supporting the Palestinians, to leave the region.

The attack, which left 91 dead and 45 injured, took place long before the birth of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Black September, Fatah and other extremist groups. The Two State solution could be the way out. Israeli settlements in Palestine should give way. Many of the 2.2 million inhabitants Netanyahu wants to evacuate are descendants of Arabs who lost their land after the emergence of Israel in 1948. Former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, as Colonial Secretary in 1920, was quite ambiguous when he declared that ‘national home for the Jews did not mean a national state.’ Compatriot William Peel recommended partition in1937.

The world must encourage Israel and Palestine to live in peace as neighbours. Hamas must tone down its militancy; Israel must also allow Palestine breath. War in the Middle East will go round -it must not come.

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