The unfolding events over the last few weeks in Gaza and the West Bank have shown the world that Palestinian lives hold little value in the eyes of the international community.
The atrocities committed on Oct 7th by Hamas in Israel were abhorrent. Taking innocent Israeli lives and hostages are crimes. However, the retaliation taken by Israel has no doubt been disproportionate, inhumane and cruel. For a nation, which is illegally occupying Gaza, to be allowed to cut off water, food, aid, fuel, electricity and communications is beyond barbaric in this day and age. This is a grave violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, forcing civilians to live in unsanitary conditions and condemning them to death under a total blockade.
Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis
There has been little mention of what has been happening in the West Bank since Oct 7th. Palestinians are being treated like prisoners in their own homes by Israeli settlers and the Israeli army. They have been denied their rights, unable to leave their homes to access food or medical care. They have been forced to close their businesses and thereby denied the ability to earn their livelihoods, forced to live on savings that are fast running out. Palestinians are having to endure constant intimidation, violence and forced displacement by Israeli settlers and the Israeli army. Over two hundred Palestinians have been unlawfully killed in the West Bank since Oct 7th. These human rights abuses and crimes are not being addressed.
It is a clear violation of international law to collectively punish civilians and intentionally target civilians. To date over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, nearly half of which are children, in this “War between Israel and Hamas”. Since Israeli politicians have referred to Palestinians as, “human animals” and claimed that civilians are “legitimate targets,” the IDF have been deliberately targeting UN-protected buildings and civilian infrastructure including, hospitals, ambulances, refugee camps, schools and places of worship. It is obvious to the entire world that it is a “War between Israel and civilians.”
The question to ask is why is Israel allowed to operate outside of international law? The reasons given by our politicians that Israel has a “right to defend itself” and is targeting Hamas who use “human shields” and hide under civilian infrastructure, are extremely weak arguments. Civilians are not criminals. Bargaining the exchange of Israeli hostages for a temporary ceasefire and allowing little aid into Gaza is unacceptable. Civilians have a right to aid and a right to be protected from conflict, regardless of the rhetoric. There is no justification for the war crimes that are being committed on a daily basis, yet no one is able to speak up.
Politicians and government employees are silenced or risk losing their jobs. The silence from world leaders is deafening, chilling in fact. What is actually even worse than the atrocities taking place in Gaza is the inability for anyone to stand up to the oppression of Palestinians, even at this colossal scale of merciless killing of innocent people and ethnic cleansing. How can there be democracy without freedom of speech, when politicians, journalists and writers are being censored for criticising the actions of governments? This clearly demonstrates there are no true democratic societies in the Western world.
The US and UK governments should be urging for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end this unprecedented bloodbath in Gaza. They should be actively involved in conflict resolution and establishing a peace process; not simultaneously condoning the actions of Israel and assisting Israel in its aggression and escalation of violence.
The Role of UK and USA in the Gaza Crisis
Why aren’t the US and UK politicians taking a pro-humanitarian stance on Gaza? Israeli lives are not superior to Palestinian lives. Yet this notion of superiority seems to be the prevailing view in the international community and the fundamental reason why Israel is allowed to operate outside international law. This damaging, racist view perpetuates the Israeli apartheid regime.
By continuing to support “Israel’s right to defend itself,” Palestinians have become subhuman to the international community, with their rights being continuously denied. There is no justice in this policy. This biased stance has prevented any meaningful peace resolutions from being successful in the past.
The UK government should now have the moral courage to challenge this racist perspective and change its stance. The UK should take the lead in finding a lasting unbiased peace solution, as it has precedent for successfully negotiating peace talks in the past, during the Troubles in Ireland. A two-state solution is a possible solution, if it does not involve Israel’s “security control” over Palestinian territory, and ensures that Israeli and Palestinian rights are given equal protection. Israel should not be allowed to be a continuing occupying power over Palestine in any way.
A Call for Justice in Palestinian Territories
There should be an end to the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories: Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has involved the forced displacement of Palestinians since 1967. The UN has consistently recognised that Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territories are illegal and a violation of international law.
The current indiscriminate bombing campaign and ground invasion of Israel have resulted in further displacement of more than 1.6 million Palestinians from Gaza. The international community should be imposing sanctions on Israel to condemn this action, which constitutes a crime against humanity. The indiscriminate military action not only does not distinguish between militants and civilians, but it also fails to distinguish between Israeli hostages further endangering their lives.
In addition to the blockade, Israel has targeted and destroyed a number of bakeries which supply bread to shelters and refugee camps, further reducing the supply of food to the population. Israel and its supporters should stop hindering humanitarian aid entering Gaza; starving a population is a crime against humanity. Humanitarian aid should be given unconditionally.
It is clear by Israel’s rhetoric that their ultimate goal for this conflict is to eradicate Palestine altogether and annex Gaza and the West Bank to Israel. However, this should not be allowed to happen, and the international community must urge an end to the inhumane treatment of civilians and give dignity to the Palestinian people. This genocide must stop now.
Taking a pro-Palestinian stance does not equal siding with terrorism or being antisemitic; it is a pro-humanitarian stance which stands up for human rights, democracy and justice.