We are said to be living in a civilised world, and much is spoken about global democracy, human rights, equality and justice, but the underlying principle of the so-called rule-based world order seems be ‘might is right’ in all but name.
More than 2,000 people have reportedly been killed in Gaza, during the past several days, with Hamas and Israel clashing ruthlessly. The readiness of the two warring parties to do all it takes for them to achieve their military targets has come as no surprise, but the western powers stand exposed for their hypocrisy.
Washington has taken upon itself the onerous task of protecting global democracy. It even condemns teargas attacks on protesters in the developing countries that it does not consider pro-western, but it has turned a blind eye to the massive destruction of life and property in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli counterattack.
There is no gainsaying that Hamas started it all by launching a cross-border offensive last week, and has shown scant concern for human suffering; its violence will make the task of finding a lasting solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict even more difficult. Israel acted in self-defence, but the US and its western allies could have handled the situation better by making the Israeli military act with some restraint. US President Joe Biden, who weeps for the Ukrainian civilians killed in Russian missile attacks and urges Moscow to stop military offensives immediately, has no such concern for the Palestinians who are perishing in Israeli air strikes.
The Biden administration has said in no uncertain terms that it will stand with Israel no matter what. The western allies of the US have adopted more or less the same stance as Washington on the ongoing Gaza conflict while pontificating to the world about the virtues of peace and reconciliation.
The UN has proved, once again, that it is nothing more than a toothless tiger. Two wars are raging in the world at present—one in Ukraine and the other one in Gaza—but the UN has not been able to do anything about them. The response of the UNHRC, which tears smaller nations to shreds for human rights violations and even prepares the ground for western sanctions against them, has been even more pathetic.
The UNHRC has stressed the obvious. A commission mandated by it has said that ‘there is already clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed in the latest explosion of violence in Israel and Gaza’. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel has, however, stopped short of naming names. It has said it is ‘intent on ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility’, and warned that it will ‘continue sharing information collected with the relevant judicial authorities, especially with the International Criminal Court (ICC)’.
Hamas will not give two hoots about the UNHRC warning because it is no respecter of the UN, and there is no way it can be held accountable. With the US and other western powers on its side, Israel also does not have to worry about UN or the UNHRC resolutions, or ICC investigations. It has ordered the evacuation of about 1.2 million Palestinians from the northern parts of Gaza, and a humanitarian catastrophe will be inevitable if this order is carried out.
The present cycle of violence in Gaza might come to an end sooner or later, most probably with Israel achieving its military objectives although Hamas has inflicted irreparable damage on its reputation as a military power and arms exporter. Hamas cannot go on resisting the Israeli military juggernaut indefinitely. But it will retain the ability to carry out surprise attacks, and another cycle of violence is bound to emerge with the passage of time. This process will go on forever unless the two-state solution, sanctioned by the UN, is implemented without further delay.
The West led by the US is blaming Hamas, and the Islamic world has condemned Israel for the ongoing conflict. Unless these two camps get around the table, and reach a consensus on the UN-recommended solution, Palestinian and Israeli civilians will continue to die.