‘Where We Will Go Now?’

As Israel’s war with Hamas enters its third month Israeli Prime minister says ‘it is the beginning of the end of Hamas’. Despite a huge humanitarian disaster, Hamas fighters are resisting the massive air strikes and ground operations by the Israeli Defence Forces--IDF. Hamas health Ministry says around 18,000 Palestinians have been killed with 49,500 injured so far and most of them are women and children. Even Israel’s allies admit that too many innocent people have died in the conflict. At an emergency session of WHO’s executive board, the organisation’s director said that, ‘Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing’. Only 14 of the enclave’s 36 hospitals were even partly able to treat the sick and injured. The intensified fighting followed a UN vote demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, which failed because the US vetoed it, albeit 13 members of the UN Security Council supported the Qatar-drafted resolution while Britain abstained. Russia, however, backed the resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza strip and said the United States was “complicit in Israel’s brutal massacre”. But its own record in Ukraine is not that rosy! Veto was not unexpected and UN Secretary General was a helpless onlooker. In truth UN is a paper tiger increasingly losing its relevance in international arena. It is now more like an agit-propaganda platform for the poor and aggrieved countries i.e. global south. The UN Chief vows to push for fresh resolution for permanent cease-fire but Qatar prime minister says chances of immediate cease-fire are sinking. Unless the big five of the UN Security Council agree not to disagree even for a temporary truce Israel’s offensive will continue unabated and miseries of Palestinians will multiply with every passing day. It is now next to impossible for UN agencies to send aid materials—food, water, medicine--to starving Gaza as the IDF has stepped up their military campaign. People are struggling day and night to get some bread and water. ‘Hunger is the base of all evils that destroy the social fabric of the communities. It is the second face of the war one sees in Gaza today’. But the world is not really listening!

Close on the heels of UN’s failure to stop war, the Biden administration declared an emergency to expedite arms shipments to the Middle East, bypassing Congress to sell 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel. America has not fixed any time table to end the war. In other words more Palestinians will be homeless and rootless in the coming weeks.

As IDF orders more evacuations, Gazans in the South ask ‘where we will go now?’ No one and nowhere are safe in Gaza. They have moved from north to south and now Israel is asking them to leave south as well. Palestinians are fleeing from central and southern Gaza to Rafah, further south along the border of Egypt. But Cairo refuses to accept Palestinian refugees. They have mobilised troops and tanks at the border to stop influx of refugees. With Israel’s deadly assault exodus of Palestinians into Egypt can hardly be avoided. Another blood bath is in the making.

Nearly 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory. Thomas White, the Gaza director for Palestinian refugees wrote on social media that roads leading to Rafah were ‘clogged with cars and donkey carts packed with people and their meagre possessions’. Even in Rafah the sound of air-strikes punctuates the day though Israel said it had suspended military activities in the refugee camp in Rafah. The Palestinian population has been pushed more and more into tiner and tiner pieces of land and there is no way that this piece of land will be able to accommodate such a high number of people. Many think Israel has a secret plan to make Gazans to be exiled in Egypt for the duration of war—augmenting Palestinian fears of a permanent expulsion.

At least 20 hostages are believed to have been killed after they were abducted according to Israeli government sources, heightening concerns for the fate of the rest.


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Vol 56, No. 26, Dec 24 - 30, 2023