By Dr Arun Mitra
Violent attack by the Hamas on Israel which killed hundreds of civilians took the whole world by shock. No one can support the barbarian act of killing innocent children, women and men. They have violated all laws of warfare by killing people attending Super Nova festival. Taking civilians hostage cannot be condoned who should be immediately released.
Palestinians have been struggling for their legitimate right to freedom for several decades in more or less a democratic manner. But they had to face aggression continuously by the successive Israeli governments. According to the UN data from 2008 to 2020 those killed in the violent conflict include 5590 Palestinians and 251 Israelis. Denial of freedom and rights many a time lead to emergence of militant outfits among the aggrieved. Their acts can however not be justified. Every human life is precious.
That the Israel has laid siege around Gaza strip in retaliation, and blocked water supply, power supply, ration even medicines is a challenge for the whole humanity. This amounts to mass murder of people. Children form half the population in Gaza and they are more vulnerable under such circumstances. To make the situation worse they have ordered 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate North Gaza. The Gaza strip is a small piece of land with a population density of over 6300 persons per square kilo meters. These sanctions and forcible evacuation will lead to starvation and death of thousands of people, particularly the children. We remember the sanctions which the US had imposed on supply of medicines to Iraq after the war in 2003. These sanctions had led to death of several thousand children for want of medical aid. According to a Lancet survey, there occurred 654,965 excess deaths in Iraq between March 2003 to June 2006.
By imposing sanctions and launching ground attack on Gaza the Israel may succeed in eliminating some of the Hamas members, but the number of civilians in Gaza who have died within these few days has already crossed 2300, which includes about 700 children. Nearly 9000 persons have been injured. Several thousands are homeless because their houses have been razed to the ground by the bombardment. They are not the members of Hamas but ordinary civilians including children. It is expected that if the similar situation continues for a long period, the death count would rise to several times more and the collateral damage would be beyond any one’s imagination.
Such an on-going humanitarian catastrophe should have shaken the consciousness of each citizen of the globe. Countries of the world should have immediately moved to strengthen peace and any action against the Hamas would have been better taken under the UNO. Ironically we find the world opinion completely divided. The US government is not only supporting Israel out rightly but also supplying them with sophisticated arms including fighter jets. These are meant to only further escalate violence. The US administration instead of talking of peace is persistently supporting the violence unleashed by Israel and has termed it as their duty to defend themselves.
There have been protests in some parts of the world demanding end to this mad war but number of these protests is very low. India was at one time leader of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) and always took a firm stand on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Even Atal Behari Vajpayee had firmly spoken for the Palestinian people. With that image India could have played a positive role in restoring peace in the region. But the assurance to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India is firmly with Israel has brought us to a point where we have lost our image as peace maker. We could have well raised the issue in the G20 speakers meeting. That taking a clue from Prime Minister Modi’s open support to Israel, his bandwagons are spreading rhetoric against Muslims for petty electoral gains.
Present global situation needs statesmanship on the part of world leaders. But this does not seem to be happening. There are violent conflicts going on in many places at present. Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict for over one and half year now. Just recently we witnessed armed conflict leading to forced displacement of more than 100,632 people from Nagorno-Karabakh, including 30,000 children, that is, about 15,000 people arrived in Armenia every day and between September 24 and October 4.
Lack of trust is so much now a days that while Azerbaijan has pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in the region, most are now fleeing, because they don’t believe that Azerbaijani authorities will treat them fairly and humanely or guarantee them their language, religion and culture.
Similar has been the situation in Syria where thousands ordinary civilians, the non- combatants including women and children have been killed. Millions have left abandoning their houses to save lives.
It is disturbing that humans are fighting among themselves like animals since their origin. They do not hesitate to kill women and young mothers even babies! Sometimes it appears animals are better in some ways.
Ironically instead of taking effective measures and putting pressure to stop war, many countries are more or less silent spectators to this death dance. The Arab countries who owe cultural, regional and language affinity with the Palestinian have been paying just lip service. They have hardly been putting serious effort for peace in the region since the time of Israeli invasion into the Arab lands in 1967. It is well known that Hamas was created by the Israeli government in 1980’s to counter the growing popular diplomatic efforts by the leader of Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Yasser Arafat in a secular democratic manner. Ms. Hanan Ashrawi was an active campaigner for the peaceful resolution of the unresolved issues at that time.
The frustration and feeling of physical and moral defeat by the Palestinian and decreasing support from the global community became the reason of rise of militant forces among Palestinians, to the extent that Hamas was elected to power through democratic means.
The on-going dreadful events should be an eye opener for the world to seize opportunity for dialogue. India can still take lead. The UN must intervene immediately. (IPA Service)