As the world woke up to extensive and nonstop western media coverage of Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel, which was labelled “unprovoked,” it was not surprising to see yet another example of the complete dehumanization of the Palestinian people. The official response of the West to the Hamas attack on Israel follows decades of dehumanizing rhetoric against Palestinians, and especially those in the Gaza Strip, attempting to render them all as deserving of the multiple forms of collective punishment that Israel has inflicted upon them, most recently in the form of massive bombardment. It was not just Hamas that will pay the price, but, inevitably, all the residents of densely packed Gaza, a place from which no one can leave and in which no one can hide as schools serving as shelters and hospitals treating patients are bombed with alarming consistency.
The world at large, specially the West, appear to have started on a one way track condemning Hamas for the recent escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel, which has resulted in an unacceptable loss of life. In the past few days, reports indicate Hamas fighters have killed hundreds of Israelis and injured over many more and Israel has responded, as we have seen time and time again, by subjecting the Palestinian people to acts of collective punishment — illegal under international law. Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, have already killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians while injuring over thousands , according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
All perpetrators of human rights violations and war crimes must be held to account. Any attack on non-combatants and innocent civilians should be condemned and that includes, not only Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians and the holding of civilian hostages, but also Israel’s retaliatory attacks, using the full force of one of the most powerful militaries in the world indiscriminately against the trapped Palestinian civilian population. And undoubtedly , it is imperative that all parties, including the international community to work to stop the and also must live up to their own obligations under international law to protect civilian life.
In fact, the unprecedented surprise attack by Hamas on should serve as a reminder of the unsustainability of the situation in the occupied and blockaded Palestinian territories and the dangers that non-state actors such as Hamas pose to Israel, no matter how strong their military and intelligence agencies are. Tensions have been flaring in the West Bank for months, but nobody expected such a coordinated, low-tech yet lethal incursion from Gaza. The West Bank has seen violence on a daily basis in recent months. Bibi’s government largely ignored the violence, and went ahead with its other policy preferences, including the overhaul of the judiciary. The Israeli military described the situation in Gaza as “stable instability”, noting that the situation, though volatile, was under control. And then came the Hamas attack, reminiscent of the 1973 Yom Kippur war when Egypt and Syria shook Israel.
What the world and the West in particular seems to forget is the bigger picture and the history, before hastening to issue one sided statements of condemnation. The Hamas’ attack should not be taken out of historic context ,as this continuing cycle of violence is firmly rooted in Israel’s ongoing 75-year illegal occupation, 16-year illegal blockade of Gaza and the maintenance of an apartheid state. Just two weeks ago the UN warned that Israel’s increasing military raids and attacks, rising use of military force and use of administrative detention, as well as increasing the pace of illegal settlements, and State support for Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is a violation of Palestinians rights, and was precipitating a spiral of violence.
The Israeli military had already killed over 240 Palestinians, including 45 children in this year alone, before this recent escalation — making it the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2014. The indiscriminate heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip, and the cutting off of energy, food, medical and water supplies amplify the daily suffering of a trapped population that has already endured extreme hardship through years of Israeli blockade. The numbers of casualties are rising as the violence continues, and it is once again civilians paying the price for the failure to end the occupation and the cycle of violence it facilitates.
The Associated Press has now reported that Egyptian intelligence officials had warned Israel about “something big” happening and that Israeli security agencies were misreading reality. Anyway, it appears the Israelis fell for their own myth of military invincibility—not just superiority—which was meant to deter aggressors but ended up lulling Israel into a false sense of complacency. Now that invincibility has been shattered, it was the most hardline government in Israel’s history that failed to prepare for the first invasion of Israeli soil since the War of Independence in 1948.
Israeli Bibi has used explosive language that further enflames tensions, escalates the crisis and dehumanises Palestinians ,which should be called out and challenged by the international community. It should be made clear that Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ does not extend to perpetrating war crimes with impunity. Israel has a horrific track record of deliberately targeting civilians, using its military might and advanced military hardware to carry out disproportionate indiscriminate attacks, which tantamount to war crimes. This oppression and brutality carried out in service of maintaining Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid regime, are violations of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. It is therefore crucial that the hypocrisy of the West be ended – being complicit in war crimes by making all arms sales to occupier Israel on the one hand and to victimised Ukraine on the other. The international community stands accused by failing to hold Israel to account for its decades-long violations of international law. The cycle of violence must stop, Israel’s illegal occupation must end, and the rights of all people must be respected.
The world appears to have forgotten the horrible Nakba, where Zionist militias killed 15,000 Palestinians and violently expelled hundreds of thousands from their lands seventy-five years ago. The shameful legacy of the Nakba continues. In its current formulation, Israel knows only one direction: to deepen its domination over a people whose land it has stolen and continues to steal. The Zionist state of Israel continues to systemically and consistently deny the suffering of the Palestinians, with mainstream media across the world downplaying and misrepresenting Nakba time and again.
In face of this continuing impunity, the world has shamefully fallen into a ‘deer in the headlight’ defeatist mentality, adopting a laissez-faire approach that has largely abandoned the Palestinian cause for liberation. It is a shame to see the vicious attempt by certain Gulf regimes to normalise their relationship with criminal Israel. Without legal accountability, financial sanctions, and other corrective measures, settler colonialism will be normalised. This is bad news for the entire international order.
With US backing, Israel’s impunity continues unchallenged. Israel has been in non-compliance with more than 40 Security Council resolutions and about 100 UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions. In fact, the UN Security Council failed to follow through in implementing economic and political consequences for Israel when it annexed occupied East Jerusalem and subsequently the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. Thus, as Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian issue, says, “Israel has learned an undeniable lesson with respect to impunity – that the international community will do virtually nothing as a consequence to Israel, so it can, in fact, have its cake and eat it too … We have reached a point where resolutions without resolve can no longer contribute to reaching the just and durable peace and human security that Palestinians and Israelis deserve’.
Palestinian territories, under the yoke of the longest occupation in modern history, have been a fuming volcano. There is no peace process. Israel has continued to build settlements in the West Bank, raising security barriers and checkpoints, limiting Palestinian movements, and never hesitating to use force or collective punishment to keep organised Palestinians under check. This status quo has only turned Palestinians more radical and Hamas even stronger. The world has conveniently sidestepped the occupation of Palestine, West Asia’s so-called original sin, letting the status quo prevail. But the status quo cannot prevail without consequences. The continuing retaliatory military operations by the occupier regime without addressing the core issue would only be cosmetic interventions.
Israel and the United States have wished away Palestinians. The terrible bloodshed of these attacks underscores the cost of doing so. Hamas attacks come after many decades of the US and world leaders overlooking the more than 2 million people living in Gaza who endure a humanitarian nightmare, with its airspace and borders and sea under Israeli control. The attack comes amid an ongoing failure to grapple with the dangerous situation for Palestinians in the West Bank where Israel’s extreme-right government over the past year has escalated the already brutal daily pain of occupation. Meanwhile , the symbolism of Hamas breaking through Israeli security barriers and wreaking havoc on Israel, will resonate across Palestine, the Arab world, and beyond.
The PLO leadership, with Chair Mahmoud Abbas still hanging on at 87 years old, lacks legitimacy among Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority, the body that exercises some administrative control over the occupied West Bank and that Abbas also runs, is seen by Palestinians as a collaboration arm of the Israeli occupation. Now Israelis are experiencing terrible loss and a tremendous sense of danger, and Palestinians living in Gaza will endure more violence, including Israeli troops entering the territories and the extensive bombardment of alleged military sites that typically have a significant civilian toll.
Global powers have been ignoring Gaza, but reality in Israel should not be forgotten. As the Israeli journalist Haggai Mattar in 972 Magazine echoed, “The dread Israelis are feeling right now, myself included, is a sliver of what Palestinians have been feeling on a daily basis under the decades-long military regime in the West Bank, and under the siege and repeated assaults on Gaza. The only solution, as it has always been, is to bring an end of apartheid, occupation, and siege, and promote a future based on justice and equality for all of us. It is not in spite of the horror that we have to change course — it is exactly because of it.” .
In the overall context, one of the clearest lessons of the current situation along the Gaza-Israel border is that there is no military solution to the Question of Palestine and the struggle of Palestinians against Israeli occupation and apartheid. The only solution to this perennial question must include addressing Palestinians’ need for freedom and national sovereignty in an independent state of their own. Indeed, the ultimate solution must not be determined by overwhelming Israeli military power and purported deterrence. Unfortunately, however, Israel and many analysts appear to be doubling down on old threats and continuing to treat the problem in military terms to secure the supposed defeat of Hamas and the Palestinians. The status quo cannot be maintained forever and Israeli repression and apartheid must end, including the siege of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has just given Israel, the Arab world, and the United States an expensive lesson: keep ignoring Palestine and Palestinian rights at your own peril. The decontextualization of the current situation and the ignorance of the reality of Palestinian suffering constitute dehumanization and anti-Palestinian racism, and must be called out for what they are.
Disclaimer: Merely Focussing On Hamas Attacks – Missing The Wood For The Trees! By Mohamed Harees – - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view