Endless woes: On the Israel-Hamas conflict and Palestine

Israel must stop bombing and find a solution to the Palestine question 

October 20, 2023 12:20 am | Updated 12:27 pm IST

Thirteen days after Hamas carried out a brutal attack on Israel, killing some 1,400 people, Israel’s air strikes on the besieged, defenceless Gaza continue with disproportionate ferocity, killing 3,785 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. As Israel is amassing troops and tanks on its border with Gaza in preparation for a ground invasion, after ordering some one million people to evacuate from the northern half of the land strip, U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Israel to declare their support for the Jewish nation’s “right to defend itself”. Mr. Biden’s visit came hours after an attack on a hospital in Gaza left at least 500 dead. The Palestinians say the hospital, which was sheltering thousands, was hit by Israeli jets, while Israel claimed that a rocket fired by Palestinian militants caused the explosion. While truth is the first casualty of war, a vengeful Israel’s mindless bombing of a tiny, blockaded enclave is pushing its 2.3 million people into an unimaginable struggle of life and death, even as the powerful nations are either looking away or busy backing Israel’s campaign. Mr. Biden announced that Israel has allowed to let some 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt. While any aid is welcome, 20 trucks of aid for two million people is, as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies put it, “a drop in the ocean”.

The October 7 Sabbath attack that Hamas carried out in Israel should be condemned without any hesitation. At the same time, collectively punishing Gaza in the name of fighting Hamas and carrying out indiscriminate bombing that is killing hundreds a day do not make Israel any better than Hamas. Moreover, this approach of the Israeli state towards the Palestinians has neither improved Israel’s security nor helped the stakeholders find a solution to the crisis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on whose watch the country’s biggest security crisis unfolded, says he will “crush” Hamas. But Israel does not have easy options. Reoccupying Gaza would lead to a prolonged urban war of attrition. Hamas rose to prominence using the vacuum left by the failures of Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. If Israel manages to diminish Hamas’s influence in Gaza, nobody knows what comes next as the Palestine question, which is the ongoing Israeli occupation, remains unaddressed. In an ideal world, the U.S., the most powerful country which is ruled by a President who has stated his commitment to “a foreign policy centred on human rights”, should be enraged by what its ally is doing and apply pressure on Tel Aviv to stop the bombing and start talking, involving regional powers. But as that is a non-possibility as of now, Israel is set to continue the attacks with impunity, multiplying the woes of millions of Palestinians.

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