The recent ceasefire, after 11 days of indiscriminate bombings in the city of Gaza that flattened the basic infrastructure, reduced hospitals, and schools to rubble, and killed 250 civilians including children, does not erase the horror Israeli forces unleashed.
In this respect, the Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians added another grim chapter to the 70 years of brutality and egregious suffering inflicted upon the displaced and disposed population by a nefarious and vicious occupying power.
According to a recent article published by UNICEF, the May 2021 Al-Aqsa clashes and the subsequent escalation in the conflict have created devastating impacts on children who have borne the brunt of violence in an unprecedented manner.
Read more: Children of war: Where is Israel’s morality?
Being a child in the Gaza strip has always been extremely difficult even prior to an escalation in violence. It is because one in three children in Gaza were in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance in the domains of mental and psychosocial support.
Moreover, in the context of the deterioration of water supply and electricity shortages, basic needs such as access to safe drinking water and sanitation were a far cry for these children.
Protestors in Denmark laid out 67 coffins for the 67 children in Gaza who were killed by Israeli airstrikes.
If you can’t understand the sheer scale of it, watch this video & look at how small the coffins are: pic.twitter.com/aI6qLClkXK
— Aleesha Khaliq (@a_leesha1) May 22, 2021
An endless cycle
The crux of Palestinian misery under the 14 years of blockade of the Gaza strip lies in forceful eviction of the population from their homes, deprived of their right of statehood and subjugation to repression, collective arrests, arbitrary arrests, and detentions and succumbed to an unrelenting cycle of torture and violence that remained unabated.
Thus, the blockade imposed by Israeli forces on the Gaza strip has become an insurmountable barrier to the ceasefire brokered by Egypt. People are still mourning the loss of their loved ones. They are also worried about rebuilding the city as special permission is required from the Israeli military to import construction materials into Gaza.
Despite several calls from the international community and human rights organizations about lifting the illegal blockade, the nominal border crossings still prevent the entry of humanitarian goods and materials for reconstruction. In this respect, Israel not only controls the cycle of destruction but ironically holds the keys to reconstruction.
In this way, it is apt to see Gaza from the prism of rising from the ashes like a phoenix and undergoing the relentless cycle of construction and destruction. This state has led Naser Abdel Karim, an Economic and Finance professor at Arab American University in Ramallah to claim, “We cannot continue reconstructing the economy and infrastructure with our international money because then Israel comes and demolishes the infrastructure and economy every couple of years. This cycle needs to end.”
Ceasefire and the Muslim world
As the carnage followed by indiscriminate Israeli airstrikes after the rocket attacks by Hamas, what was missing in the midst was the proactive role played by Palestinian Arab brethren and states. Many Muslim states despite their multi-lateral platforms chose to soft-pedal the issue by opting for expediency over platforms and left countries like Pakistan and Turkey to shoulder the burden.
The recent crisis required the OIC and the Arab league to power up their diplomacy and utilize the collective clout of the member countries to exert pressure on Israel and its supporting entourage. Instead, the statements of mere condemnation were issued by the OIC and they contemplated no collective action because of being long in rhetoric but short in action.
Read more: Has OIC failed the Muslim Ummah?
In the wake of normalizing ties with Israel at the backdrop of Abraham Accords brokered by former US President Donald Trump, there has been a visible dilution of support for Palestinian Cause among the platforms like OIC and Arab League.
Even if these normalizing prospects were meant to restrain Israeli aggression and make it more accommodating towards the Palestinian cause, the Israeli forces have buried the notion under the Gaza rubble.
Thus, it is better that the OIC and the Aral League learn lessons from their failure to respond proactively in this crisis and amend their policy of silence and appeasement in the face of Israeli brutality.
Countries like Pakistan issued a proactive policy by galvanizing diplomatic efforts in the favour of Palestinian cause. Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed the ceasefire and called it a power of collective-unified action which may be the first step towards peace in Palestine.
He also called for the end of Israel’s illegal settlements, the imposition of an apartheid-like regime in the occupied territories, and the implementation of the UN Security Council’s 88 resolutions that called for the establishment of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state. Thus, Pakistan employed diplomatic efforts in its capacity to reinforce the just cause of Palestinians on the global forum.
The Western world’s support for Israel
The ceasefire was unconditional, but where did this leave the prospects of the two-state solution and of recognition of the Palestinian rights in Jerusalem? The US and its western allies were blindsided by the Palestinian plight by their unwavering support for Israel.
After days of the crisis, the US leaders called for de-escalation, and an emergency UNSC meeting was delayed because of Washington. Even when it met, Washington vetoed the statement which all the rest of the 14 members of the Council agreed upon which called for the end of Israeli aggression and the respect for international law. Even though the US stance left it isolated in UN, it didn’t persuade Washington to think twice about its decision.
Furthermore, certain takeaways from Biden’s speech also elucidate the fact that the US, as Israel’s principal benefactor, has long protected its closest ally whose influence has remained unprecedented in its politics.
Biden’s narrative highlights the inclination of US foreign policy towards fostering Israel’s interest as he claimed, “ the US fully supports Israel’s right of self-defense against indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other Gaza based terrorist groups”.
As a result, it becomes apparent that Biden didn’t say that the US would push for a two-state solution that had been the main point of Biden’s presidential campaign. Also, this highlights the little concern for Palestinian rights that it routinely voices about human rights violations elsewhere.
Read more: China urges US to stop supporting Israel
Ironically, the Palestinian US congresswoman in the US House of Representatives Rashida Tlaib advocated a one-state solution based on the premise that in such a state, Arabs will be more in number than Israelis and it will be a Palestinian state rather than a Jewish state.
Is this what a ceasefire looks like?
The Israeli apartheid government has no shame. https://t.co/Row3thUuSE
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 21, 2021
In addition, the US has generously funded the assistance required for the Palestinian authorities, especially the UN Relief and Works Agency that looks after Palestinian refugees. The Biden administration has pumped huge sums of funding in association with the EU and prominent Arab states such as Qatar and UAE for the rehabilitation of the Palestinians in parts of East Jerusalem.
The “new front” inside Israel: All is not bad news
Although the recent crisis echoes the similar tragic overtones of Palestinians’ entrenched history of repression, it is a departure from the past and can prove consequential. It is because the scale of protests that took place across the occupied territories and Israel by the Palestinians was unprecedented. Never before the Palestinians living in Israel joined these demonstrations.
Also, the otherwise biased reports in media acknowledged the prospects of these protests as finding new footholds and threatening the veneer of Israeli society in ways not seen before.
As a result, a new front within Israel was witnessed and the anger unleashed by the protestors attributed to what the Human Rights Watch in the recent report coined as Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Arabs.
Moreover, the scope of solidarity shown with Palestinian plight across the world in the midst of bleak Covid times is laudable. In the test of world conscience towards Palestinian woes, the global opinion and popular support tilted towards the Palestinians as evidenced in mass protests in the western world such as the US and UK.
As this wave of global support was contrasted with the positions adopted by western governments, predominantly the US, it is irrefutable that President Biden faced growing criticism from the progressive Democrats on his stance.
Ceasefire and the ineluctable reality
While the ceasefire with Gaza might have put lids on the latest Israeli aggression, it is evident that it is going to be a lull before the next storm. It is because the reality stands before us which illuminates the fact that unresolved Palestinian issues will continue to remain a collective failure for the international community.
There have been 88 UNSC Resolutions on this issue and the answer to this dispute which is the oldest on the UN agenda has been the two-state solution that ensures a viable and autonomous Palestinian state.
However, in recent years, under the presidency of Donald Trump, Israel was encouraged to thwart this solution with legitimacy at the backdrop of the notorious “Deal of the Century” which obfuscated the entirety of the conflict and gave Israel the legitimacy to expand illegal settlements in violation of UNSC Resolution 2334 and in defiance of international demands to halt such illegality.
Thus, inaction on these international resolutions is a condemnation of those states in the global community who have the power to bring about positive change but are unable to do so because of their blind commitment to Israel. Such an approach makes these states act in contradiction to their claims to respect international law and dynamics of rules-based international order.
Hadia Mukhtar is a geopolitical analyst residing in Karachi and with a keen interest in international relations. She has worked as a content writer for international publications and has worked on non-fiction books. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.