Continuing Conflict

People in Gaza are suffering from a lack of food, water, medicine and adequate healthcare. Famine will make an already terrible situation catastrophic because sick people are more likely to succumb to starvation and starving people are more vulnerable to disease”. That was World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Who is listening? Nobody. At least not the warring parties in the conflict–Israel and Hamas. Urgent humanitarian appeals were made by both the Pope and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during their addresses at the World Economic Forum [WEF] in Davos. Perhaps they were delivering speeches at wrong platform because Davos people were more concerned about economic growth and technology, not ‘war and peace’. Francis Pope urged world leaders to tackle the “injustices that are at the root causes of conflict, primarily hunger and the exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of few.” Pope who has defended the poor and immigrants during his 11-year-old papacy cannot alter the very rules that justify the unjust world order.

Also, at the WEF the UN Secretary General expressed his concerns about violation of international law, in Israel-Hamas war. Guterres said both sides were ignoring rules of war trampling on the Geneva Conventions, and even violating the United Nations Charter. He even repeated his call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, and a process that leads to sustained peace for Israelis and Palestinians, based on a two-state solution. But Israel has summarily rejected the idea of a Palestinian state. Major Powers and a large number of Arab Countries, including Saudi Arabia, are in favour of two-nation theory. But on this issue Biden and Netanyahu are at odds. The US administration is hoping to secure an Israeli-Saudi normalisation deal in exchange for a Palestinian state. Like the right-wing in Israel, the hard liners in the Arab World, backed by Iran are against two-state solution. They deny the very existence of Israel. Two parallel lines never meet.

The hidden agenda of Israel is to execute a plan of mass transfer of Palestinians out of their historic land either through force or by making Palestinian life in Gaza and occupied territories untenable or unbearable. The demographic reality Israel now faces is against its design to deny the Palestinians their legitimate right–the right to land and right to livelihood. The number of Palestinian Arabs in areas under Israel’s control is now 7.4 million–greater than 7.2 million Israeli Jews inside Israel and occupied territories. What Israel wants is to transfer huge number of Palestinians out of territories under Israeli control from Gaza into Egypt and from West Bank into Jordan. In any future arrangement after the war Israel demands security control of all territory west of Jordan. This idea clashes with the idea of Palestinian sovereignty.

Israel doesn’t want to end the war without retaining full control over Gaza and occupied territories. There is no end in sight to the fighting in Gaza, with the death toll surpassing 25,000. As Netanyahu has virtually ruled out the possibility of a Palestinian state after the war ends, millions of Gaza residents are in limbo, having no future.

Talking about humanitarian crisis by the international community every now and then doesn’t make the situation easier for the Palestinians who are the victims of Israel’s planned ethnic cleansing programme. Without any lasting peace initiative mere harmless press statements won’t change the ground reality–continued Israeli bombardment and ground offensive in the Palestinian enclave in response to the Hamas October 7 attack. 2.3 million Gazans have already been driven from their homes and more are likely to flee the war. 350,000 housing units have been completely or partially damaged in Gaza. It will take years to rebuild them even if peace returns at this juncture, the possibility of which seems remote.

The current conflict didn’t begin with the October 7 incident. Nor is it limited to Gaza alone. It all started with the 1948 war in which about 750, 000 people were dispossessed of their homes. Then came the 1967 war which led to Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and produced an estimated 300,000 new Palestinian refugees.

Unless Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian land lasting peace will never return to the region. In truth a sovereign Palestine is the only guarantee to Israel’s existence.


Back to Home Page

Vol 56, No. 32, Feb 4 - 10, 2024