The recent shocking assault by Hamas on Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of hundreds of lives in Israel and the Gaza region of Palestine due to Israel's retaliatory air strikes, stands as a stark reminder of the untenable situation in the occupied and blockaded Palestinian territories.
In recent months, the West Bank has been a hotbed of daily violence, with a grim tally of over 200 Palestinians and 30 Israelis losing their lives this year even before Saturday’s tragic events.
The government of Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have largely disregarded this violence, focusing instead on advancing its political agenda, particularly in diminishing the judiciary's powers. His military advisors assured him that Gaza was in control.
Then, the Hamas attack occurred, echoing the 1973 Ramadan (Yom Kippur) War when Egypt and Syria stunned Israel. Hamas executed a series of attacks, delivering one of the deadliest blows to Israel in recent history.
This attack raises a spectrum of moral and pragmatic questions. Hamas's indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is unlikely to serve the Palestinian cause; rather, it places more Palestinian lives in danger as Israel continues to target civilians as collateral damage, pounding a besieged enclave.
Yet, the Palestinian territories, subjected to one of the longest modern occupations, have been a simmering boiler of discontent. The absence of a peace process, coupled with Israel's continuous construction of settlements in the West Bank, the erection of security barriers and checkpoints, restrictions on Palestinian movement, and an eagerness to use force and collective punishment to maintain control over Palestinians, has bred frustration.
This has only fueled radicalism among Palestinians while Hamas has grown stronger. Israel's declaration of war follows past attacks involving ground invasions and airstrikes, which achieved little in weakening Hamas.
In recent years, at the behest of the USA, various Arab and Asian countries have been realigning their relationship with Israel and have conveniently sidestepped the Palestine occupation and suffering.
This, in essence, is the Original Sin!
If Israel and other international stakeholders truly seek lasting peace and stability in the region, they must refocus efforts on finding a comprehensive and dignified solution for Palestine.