I’ve been hesitant to write on Gaza, because the conflict is so complicated, and its roots run very deep, but as fighting resumes today between Hamas and Israel I can’t help but go there.
Hamas fired rockets into Israel this morning, sparking further airstrikes on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in response. This after a tenuous truce that synced with talks between the two parties in Cairo; Hamas demanded an end to Israel’s blockade of the territory, and Israel demanded that Hamas disarm. Neither were prepared to budge.
Meanwhile, as these parties negotiated the nuances of their power struggle, the remaining civilians of Gaza were, and are, left reeling in the rubble. Since June 30, when Israel launched the first strikes in the latest round of conflict in the Strip, around 2000 Palestinians have been killed. Many were civilians, and many were seeking refuge in UN shelters at the time of their deaths. On top of this, more than half a million people have been forced from their homes.
The current conflict was sparked when three Israeli youths were killed in the West Bank on June 10, allegedly by members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Whether this proves true or not, there are no grounds on which Israel’s assault on civilians can be justified. Their multiple strikes on supposed ‘safe’ zones like UN shelters and medical facilities beg the question: how are Hamas’ actions condemned as terrorist, while Israel’s are not?
As human rights organisations around the world, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations itself, call for urgent action to be taken to end what is increasingly hard to not consider an attempt at purging Palestinians from Gaza, Western superpowers including the US and UK continue to supply and finance the IDF.
It’s understood that these powers have longstanding relationships with Israel they are wary of upsetting, but continuing to supply arms to Israel, including through the investment of a further $US 225 million into Israel’s Iron Dome programme — as the US government did the same day they condemned the shelling of a UN school in Gaza that sheltered 3,300 civilians — is anything but a rebuke.
The only international leader to take a definitive stand is UK Foreign Minister Sayeeda Warsi, who resigned from Parliament on August 5 as she believed her government’s “approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on [their] reputation internationally and domestically.”
I have no suggestions for how the conflict could be resolved, but I find it both frustrating and revolting that, in a week where governments in the West hosted sombre memorials marking the 100-year anniversary of World War I — remembering the millions of lives lost needlessly in that conflict — these same ‘powers’ have essentially assisted Israel in the killing of thousands of innocent people, and the displacement of many others.
As this short Amnesty International video outlines, if it is proven the IDF were aware the UN shelters they targeted and bombed were such before they did so, they’re guilty of some incredibly heinous war crimes. I get that negotiating between Hamas and Israel can be no easy task, but at the very least the global community needs to draw a line in the sand by refusing to actively contribute to the decimation of Gaza, and the murder, displacement and trauma of its people.
Sarah Illingworth is a freelance journalist and Editor at Impolitikal. She has an MSc in Poverty & Development from the University of Manchester. Read more by Sarah.