by Bamidele Ademola Olateju
We have not forgotten how on November 18, 2012, the Israel Defence Forces shocked the world by wiping out the Dalou family – all 10 of them including four children. Today, a child is killed every hour in Gaza according to the United Nations
Who says the dead does not tell stories? The dead in Gaza tells the story of struggle. The story is told in gory pictures of death caused by mass slaughter especially of hapless women and children. The effect of aimless rockets fired at Israel (Protected by Iron Dome) does not justify the brutality of the Israeli response.
Dead Palestinian children tells the story of impunity. The “telegenically dead” Palestinians tells us one thing; Israel thinks itself as unassailable and unaccountable to humanity. As I write: Over 1,800 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza onslaught by the Israeli military. Most of the casualties are civilians including hundreds of children and women. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed. Israeli military campaign in Gaza including the bombing of U.N school and shelter has become a horrifying indictment of its counterinsurgency plan and a patent disregard for the lives of Palestinians.
There can be no peace in the Middle East, without moderate leadership in Palestine; having that moderate leadership is getting harder. The liberal Zionist two-state vision to which I subscribe, once commanded a mainstream support in Israel, it has now been abandoned as an untenable liberal idea. An idea only championed within the rump of what remains of the Israeli left. For now, Israel is committed to exacerbating its own problems and undermining future prospect for peace. Most people have no idea how inhuman living conditions are for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth. It is a strip of coastline that is 40 kilometres long and 11 kilometres wide. Gaza is home to 1.816 million people. Palestinians are locked in by Israel from the north, east and west, and by Egypt from the south. They have no freedom to procure food, medicine, fuel, books or anything at all. Even the bricks they use in building their houses are allowed in in trickles. They have no control over anything.
How can 1.816 million people live on 360 kilometres square of land in squalid conditions and not evoke chaos? The condition in most prisons is better than what obtains in Gaza. That is why I wonder why Israel seem surprised any time the inmates of the prison it created erupts in violence. Isn’t that what repressed people do? The continued growth of settlements is inhuman and it does not serve Israel’s interest. It makes a two-state solution harder to achieve. As Netanyahu leads a more aggressive and war loving coalition, Israel loses whatever goodwill it has left with the rest of the world.
A fly that perches on the scrotum cannot be swatted; it can only be shooed away with tact. It is true that Hamas is an unreasonable organization populated by extremists but their ineffectual rocket attacks does not justify the disproportionate military actions of Israel. Unleashing Israel’s overwhelming military superiority is morally indefensible. We remember Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the three-week armed conflict which resulted in 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths. Four of the 13 dead on the Isreali side was from friendly fire. We remember the Turkish activists Israel killed aboard the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza flotilla raid carried out by Israeli military operation against six civilian ships of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” on 31 May 2010. The attack took place in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. What was their crime? The flotilla was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials, with the intention of breaking Israeli blockade on Gaza. It was organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH).
We have not forgotten how on November 18, 2012, the Israel Defence Forces shocked the world by wiping out the Dalou family – all 10 of them including four children. Today, a child is killed every hour in Gaza according to the United Nations. Israel is never going to win friends with gory images of Palestinian bodies (most of which are women and children) littering the streets of Gaza and beamed to the world. Unless they plan to wipe almost two million people from the surface of the earth, it is a failing strategy.
It is ruptured logic for Israel to believe it can be a democracy premised on the concept of a “Chosen” people and a “Rejected” lot. I believe Israel has every right to exist side by side its Arab neighbours. It is the Israeli right embrace of Messianic Zionism that gets me. The forceful appropriation of all land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is illegal and cannot stand the test of time, no matter how long it takes. The systematic oppression in the West Bank; the expansion of settlements on West Bank to undermine the future Palestinian state is at best wicked. Israel cannot achieve peace by seeking tactical advantage and employing reckless militarism.
I hope Israel understands that it does not have the luxury of time. Its position will continue to weaken as it is unlikely that anything will happen to strengthen it. This is because Israel continues to bet on its ability to stay strong but nothing stays the same forever. The long game and humanity is in favour of the Palestinians.
They are betting on the long game. No one can predict Arab military capabilities in 30-50 years but I will wager that it will be stronger. That is why Israel is vehemently opposed to a Nuclear capable Iran. If the constituent Arab states become militarily strong with equally powerful allies, what happens to Israel? The blood-letting will continue until both parties embraces the future and discards the past. How I wish that can be done without further loss of lives!
It is true that there are two sides to every conflict. Students of history and politics understand Israel can win the military side of the war but it will continue to be isolated and it will definitely lose the peace. The world is outraged! Journalists have dropped the parity or fair and balanced approach they have held in favour of speaking to the horror in Gaza. The young demographic all over the world are increasingly angry about the disproportionate use of force and its effect on civilians.
Obviously Netanyahu and his right wing coalition have no exit strategy to this conflict. unfortunately, the fallout is they will continue to risk deteriorating diplomatic position in the world. Apart from continued loss of support, it is facing an unstoppable demographic decline even though certain scholars project 3.0 birth rate for Israel. The sad fact behind any war at all, is that the parties to the conflict must and should sit at the table at the end of it all to negotiate peace. What that tells me is that there will be a two-state solution eventually. However, that solution can only come into being through a catastrophic set of events engineered by conflict. So much for a people that says “Never Again!”
This article was first published in the Premium Times Newspapers
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