|Palestinians have been living under the worst kind of repression for more than seventy years. The Gaza Strip has been described as the world’s ‘largest open-air prison’
Targeting civilians in war is an international crime. The reality however is that war is all about killing. While we all pay lip service to the sacredness of civilian life, civilians become the first victims of war. During the dying days of World War II the US nuclear-bombed two civilian targets in Japan – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The first atomic bomb, named Little Boy, was detonated on Hiroshima from the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945. The second bomb, named Fat Man, was on Nagasaki by another B-29 bomber, at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945.
The bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. The bombing remains the only use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict.
A few days ago the BBC reported UK special forces killed nine people “in their beds” during an Afghanistan night raid.
The probe was launched following a BBC Panorama investigation, which revealed that an SAS squadron killed 54 people under suspicious circumstances on one six-month tour.
Our own country has been hauled up by the UN Human Rights Commission for alleged crimes committed during the 30-year-long ethnic conflict. The government of the day claimed not a single civilian life was lost in the conflict.
Quite predictably no one took the word of that government seriously after that statement. Bullets and bombs do not differentiate between civilians and armed personnel.
Just days ago rockets and gunfire erupted across Israel and Gaza as Hamas a Palestine militant group unleashed a surprise and deadly attack across the heavily guarded borders between Gaza and Israeli-occupied territories in Palestine.
Palestinians have been living under the worst kind of repression for more than seventy years. The Gaza Strip has been described as the world’s ‘largest open-air prison’. Three days ago the Palestinian militant group struck back against their oppressor with a ferocity that has shaken not only the Zionist state of Israel but its American and European backers as well.
For the first time, the battle has been taken into the State of Israel. Unfortunately as is usually the case in wars, civilians have been among the worst casualties.
The killing of civilians, especially targeted attacks on civilians stands condemned. However, as we mentioned earlier civilian populations are the first casualties of armed conflict and wars.
The Israeli retaliation has been equally and even more brutal. The Israeli Prime Minister stressed he would level Gaza. Going further he has imposed a blockade of the area, cutting all water, food and medical supplies to the besieged area.
The Gaza Strip, which is home to a Palestinian population of some 2.2 million, has witnessed many bombings by the Israeli occupation forces earlier, but never like the one being witnessed presently.
Around nine hundred people have died in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel Defence Forces’ Army Radio, claimed 1,000 civilians in Israel have been killed and a number of civilians abducted.
Reports coming out of Ramallah accuse Israel of using phosphorus incendiary weapons in bombing populated areas.
Rami Abdo, the founder of the European Observatory for Human Rights, posted a video clip on the X platform of what he said was Israel’s use of phosphorus bombs. “Israeli military forces are using toxic white phosphorus [bombs] on densely populated areas northwest of Gaza City,” he wrote.
The New York-based rights group ‘Human Rights Watch’ had earlier cited reports of Israel’s use of white phosphorus bombs in Gaza during past conflicts.
The present siege in Gaza intends to starve the entire population and is clearly a war crime. It brings back memories of Nazi Germany’s holocaust and its attempt to rid the world of Jews. The present siege of Gaza is eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s attempt to starve to death Jewish villages/enclaves in Poland.
But we need to go back a little in history to understand the ferocity in which today’s ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict is taking place.
On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states (Along with an international zone encompassing Jerusalem and Bethlehem). It also placed the territories of an undivided Palestine under a British mandate which would continue until May 1948.
At the time, the Palestinians owned 94 percent of historic Palestine and comprised 67 percent of its population.
In 1945 the Government Office of Statistics and the Department of Lands of the British Mandate Government for the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, showed the total population of Palestine to be 1,764,520 there were 1,061,270 Muslims, 553,600 Jews, 135,550 Christians and 14,100 classified as “others”.
On the day the British mandate ended Israel declared itself a Sovereign State and war broke out.
Even before the British Mandate expired on May 14, 1948, Zionist paramilitaries began embarking on military operations to destroy Palestinian towns and villages to expand the borders of the Zionist State that was to be born.
In April 1948, more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children were killed in the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem by para-militaries of the Haganah and Irgun terrorist groups.
Between 1947 and 1949, more than 500 Palestinian villages, towns and cities were destroyed in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic.
Since then in different attacks by Israelis, an estimated 15,000 Palestinians were killed, in dozens of massacres. An estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes andIsraeli authorities captured 78 percent of historic Palestine.
Today, only 22 percent is left for the Palestinians -the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This remaining 22 percent was later occupied by Israel in 1967. Even in this tiny sliver of territory, Israel does not allow the free movement of Palestinians having set up military barriers and checkpoints demanding permits for movement.
In short, Israel has since occupied the whole of Palestine, and to date continues evicting Palestinians from their homes and fields. These homes and fields are handed over to Israeli settlers.
As of January 2023, there are 144 illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including 12 in East Jerusalem. In total, over 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, with an additional 220,000 Jewish illegal settlers residing in East Jerusalem.
In December 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which called for the right of return for Palestinian refugees. To date, Israel refuses to let this happen. Yet it (Israel) permits any Jewish person who has never stepped into Israel to claim citizenship in Israel. But six million people whose origins are in Israel, but who were forced out in 1947 and 1948 do not have that right.
This is one of the main reasons why Palestinians conflict with Israel.
On September 13, 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) signed what is today known as the Oslo Accords at the White House.
The agreement included the phased withdrawal of the Israeli military from the Palestinian territories it had illegally occupied since 1967; the setting up of two states as a solution and the transfer of authority to a Palestinian administration. The final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem, were to be settled later.
Rather than withdraw from the occupied territories, Israel continues to grab more Palestinian homes and land. Nor has it transferred authority to a Palestinian administration. Even today, no Palestinian can travel between the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip without an Israeli permit which is almost impossible to obtain.
It’s been 30 years since the Oslo Agreements were signed. While claiming to be supportive of the Oslo Peace Accords and the two-state solution proposed in that document, Israel continues building more Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands.
People like Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela have described Israel as an apartheid State with different laws for people depending on their race or religion.
It is in this background we have to view the recent attacks carried out by the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the retaliatory ongoing actions of the Israeli authorities including the cutting off of water, food and medical supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.
The actions of the Israeli government today are no different to that of Nazi Germany’s final solution to the Jewish problem. The action of Hamas targeting civilians is equally reprehensible but Hamas is a non-State actor
courtesy daily mirror