In Solidarity With All Israeli and Palestinian Victims of War!
19 October 2023: The violence and harm to civilians in Gaza and Israel are unprecedented, horrific and gruesome. We condemn all killings of civilians and targeting them to violence by parties to the current conflict.
The current round of hostilities began with Hamas attacking Israel and its people. We condemn Hamas for taking civilians hostages. In the same vein, we also condemn Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza; the prohibition of food, water, medicine and electricity into Gaza; and the military lockdown of the West Bank.
How can Israel settle this issue by imposing collective punishment on an entire population? Israel and its backers should focus on addressing the root causes of this conflict, rather than using food, water, medicine and electricity as weapons of war, which is legally and morally abhorrent.
The latest incidents of this tragedy are the bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital and the Americans vetoing a Brazilian Security Council call for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the war. As usual, Israel is deflecting blame with the full backing of western leaders and media. Biden, Sunak and Albanese back Israel to the hilt, saying Israel is ‘not responsible’ for the hospital bombing.
We need to understand this escalation and the ensuing tragedy in the context of 55 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land and the 75 years of dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people. In 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 that divided Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states at the end of the British mandate. The mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their land during Israel’s creation is known as the ‘Catastrophe’ or the ‘Nakba’ in Arabic.
Palestinian civilians were massacred leading to a mass Palestinian exodus. More than 400 Palestinian cities, towns and villages were razed to the ground. Buildings, including homes, shops and religious sites were demolished to prevent Palestinian owners from coming back. As a result, 78 percent of the Palestinian land was turned into Israel. Most Palestinians were expelled, ethnically cleansed, forcing them to become refugees in neighbouring countries.
Palestinians were replaced by Jews from around the world with Israel offering instant citizenship. In 1967 Israel expanded its occupation by annexing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Since 2015, the UN General Assembly has adopted 140 resolutions critical of Israel regarding the treatment of Palestinians, among others.
A recent UN resolution was about Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.” However, those resolutions are never enforced and cannot be enforced. Benjamin Netanyahu openly said Israel does not care about those resolutions. Israeli lobbies control the politics and media of many western countries including those of America and the UK.
How can the international community remain silent while the Israeli regime maims and kills so many? Instead of freedom, Palestinians receive bullets, tanks, missiles using Apache helicopters and F-16 bombers. All state actors have a far wider responsibility for upholding human rights. Israeli negotiations are made in bad faith and always end up expanding the occupation further, controlling borders, airspace and even the seas. Palestinian lands are increasingly occupied by establishing more settlements and numerous military checkpoints.
Prior to Hamas’ atrocities against Israeli civilians, Netanyahu’s right-wing regime stoked further tensions. The regime placed Palestinian towns under siege, confiscated their lands, destroyed their olive groves, demolished their homes while expanding Jewish settlements. It is heartbreaking to witness the loss of innocent lives and the destruction of homes and livelihoods.
There are many Australians who talk about Indigenous dispossession, and quite rightly so. But how can they use a different tongue and a voice about Palestinian dispossession? Isn’t it hypocrisy at its highest level?We need to understand that the ongoing conflict is because of a process of continuous and expanding Israeli occupation of Palestinian land under apartheid conditions.
Can anyone be surprised that Palestinians are frustrated, angry, desperate, and feeling hopeless? Their children are traumatised with lasting effects that could lead to the emergence of a new generation of militants.
The destruction of Israeli lives needs to be deplored. In a similar vein, or even in a graver sense, we need to deplore the historical and ongoing destruction of Palestinian lives, homes, lands and their livelihoods for the last 76 years by the regimes in the US, UK, France and Australia and their likes morally, materially and militarily aiding, abetting and backing the Israeli apartheid regime. This shows moral bankruptcy.
All Palestinians should be allowed to settle on their original land. Under the Israeli regime, some of the current partners want the West Bank also annexed without granting equal rights for the Palestinians. Some of them vehemently oppose coordinating with or strengthening the Palestinian Authority.
Time and time again, it has been proven that there is no military solution to this conflict, and there cannot be. Palestinian society has been shattered at every level. Many of those who became refugees, including their descendants, are still waiting in camps waiting to return home back to what is now called Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Peace and coexistence can only come with an end to occupation, the granting of equal rights for all to live in dignity as human beings. Otherwise, these cycles of violence will continue.
Our task will be to encourage and press all parties to the conflict to find a solution through negotiations. This will enable them to live peacefully as responsible neighbours.
We call for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages held!
The siege of Gaza needs to end. Live and let the Palestinians also live their lives peacefully.
Dr Lionel Bopage
Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGGSL)