(some of the numbers used in this article may and probably have increased)
To begin with, I chose the title very carefully. It is not a Palestine vs. Israel conflict as there are civilians from both sides that are against it and it is definitely not a Muslim vs. Jewish conflict, it is a conflict between multiple groups of people in these territories. Furthermore, with friends on both sides, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, I can claim that I can see two sides of the argument and will try to remain as objective as possible.
An Introduction to the History of the Conflict
Believe it or not, there was not always a conflict between Jewish people in the area and Arabs. I say Jewish and not Zionist because Jews, will naturally get drawn into the hate directed towards Zionists that often leads to violence and conflict. This is the same syndrome that was seen when terrorist groups that claimed to be Islamic caused hate, fear and violence to the Muslims globally. In fact, the vast majority of the Jewish population that came to the Palestinian lands, came there running away from the anti-Semites in Europe and to a land that was quoted even in the late 1800′s as “A land without a people for a people without a land”. There are people who disagree, but the fact of the matter is that even back in the days of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), it is a known fact that he would take loans from the wealthier Jews as needed.
However herein grows the beginning of the problem. The land that was said to have been without people has obviously been populated since the beginning of recorded history. This is even more obvious when you consider all the wars that had occurred to obtain Jerusalem and all the holy sites that it holds.
During World War I, the British had promised the Arabs total control of their lands, under the McMahon agreement in 1915, if they help them overthrow the Ottoman Empire. In June 5, 1916 the revolts officially started and nearing the end of 1918, they had defeated the Ottomans. However, the years after proved difficult as it seemed apparent that the British did not mean to include Palestine since the 1917 Balfour Declaration, addressed to the Zionist Foundation, also promised a national home for the Jews within the Arab region of Palestine.
In hopes of avoiding conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, the UN proposed a partition plan that gave the Jewish community ( at the time 32% of the population) 56% of the land leaving the Arabs with 44% of the land. Ignoring the fact that an obvious minority was given the majority of the land, we must also consider the fact that for a very long time the majority of the people were Arabs. This not only meant that the majority of the population was Arab, but the vast majority ownership was vastly in Arab hands with estimates rising up to even 90%.
The plan was proposed November 29th, 1947, and was rejected by the Arab countries and Palestine civilians and welcomed by the Jewish population. This caused the first war of the region that ended with Israel (the state of Israel having been declared as of May 14 1948) “winning” the war and ending up with now 78% of the land.
Jumping to 1967, the Six Day War took place between June 5th and June 10th. Israel, feeling threatened from continuous threats from, most notably, Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, held a preemptive strike against: Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, destroying all of their air forces on the first day. The countries fought back but Israel crushed the Arab countries and even worse than the physical defeat was the morale of the Arab countries. Israel also gained control of the Sinai, the Golan Heights and the West Bank regions. Five years after the 1973 war, in which Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stated that they would sacrifice a million Egyptian soldiers to regain their lands,Israel eventually gave back the Sinai region. Under foreign pressure to stabilize the region, internal pressure due to the fact that the region was host to more than 600,000 Arabs that weren’t happy about being under Israeli rule and an attempt to better relations, the 1978 Camp David Accords returned the Sinai region to Egypt.
In hope of keeping this as short as possible, I would like to just start with some facts and lead to analyzing them. Firstly, Hamas (created in the 1st Intifada of 1987) has sometimes taken the wrong steps in recent history to help free the Palestinians. Speaking realistically, violence can sometimes lead to the answer, but definitely not so when you are not only a minority of the population, but also a much weaker minority. Hamas has also been wrong in continuously attempting to attack Israel with rockets. I say attempt because they really are not very successful. Not only because of Israel’s recent acquisition of the Iron Dome missile defense system and their extremely advanced military technology, but also because of the terribly strong weapons that Israel has. By forcing Israel to defend itself, you give it justification in attacking and invading the Palestinian lands. If you read Israeli news, some of the damages reported include “a chicken coop”. In the second night of Operation Protective Edge, an Israeli news source reported about 68 people being treated since Operation Protective Edge had begun, nine of them were reported to be light injuries sustained while running towards shelter and the rest were from shock. The Israeli news agency, Haaretz, had also reported that by then the death count had reached 51 in Gaza from the two days. That is not to belittle the Israelis who in many areas find it hard to go about life because of all the missile threats and having to run off to shelters. I remember back in 2003 when I was still a young kid and Iraq had launched missiles (SCUD missiles they had received from Russia ) into Kuwait and me shivering and sweating from fear in my mother’s lap as we sat in front of the TV waiting for the siren to stop and hearing the missiles fly over our heads. In that case and time I was completely supportive of America invading Iraq. What did we, Kuwait, have possibly done to deserve the aggression?
In the case of Palestine, Israel justifies its killing of innocent civilians by stating that Israel is under constant threat by Hamas, Hamas does not want peace, Hamas is hiding behind innocent civilians and are using them as human shields. Keep in mind that, Israel, a country, is justifying its UN violations by saying that Hamas, a terrorist organization, is also violating UN regulations. With that in mind, let it also be known that civilian deaths in Palestine account to 70-80% of the death in Palestine. Yes, Israel must protect its people, then what about the 4 children that were playing on a beach. Surely no terrorist is stupid enough to hide on a beach? In fact, this beach is in front of a Hotel known as a safe-haven for journalists and even Israel tells journalists to stay there to avoid damage. Yet the four children aged between 7-11 died from the rockets fired on them. Israel said that they were going to investigate it. (the below picture is not at all the most disturbing from this conflict)
Israel later that day killed 3 more children that were playing on their roof with the controversial “warning” missile. This is not the only case of a warning missile injuring and/or killing people. It is also important to note that in comparison charts, Israel is estimated to have hit 1700 targets in Gaza, while 1200 rockets have said to be launched into Israel. Note that the number of rockets launched are not at all equal to the number of targets hit on both sides. The Israel Defense Force also states that Hamas hides using schools, mosques, hospitals and houses. Ignoring the fact that this pretty much opens all of Gaza as a potential target, where in Gaza are Hamas supposed to operate to avoid civilian casualties? Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. All the borders are shut by Israel and now even Egypt. The sea and air are closed off by Israel as well. I am by no means defending Hamas, simply stating some facts. I especially denounce Hamas’s choice to attack during Israeli held humanitarian periods. Israel has said on multiple occasions that it met with Egypt to talk about peace but Hamas has blatantly refused peace talks. However these Egyptian led peace talks have only included two of the three parties involved (Israel and Egypt), in addition Hamas offered a 10 year truce with these demands:
I’m sure that Israel will not be pleased by some of the demands, but surely they can at least negotiate expanding the fishing zones, moving back Israeli tanks, lifting the blockade and having the UN control some of the borders? Israel did not respond to these demands and instead only proclaim that they have negotiated peace with Egypt to which Hamas has rejected.
Causes of Operation Protective Edge
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, states that Operation Protective Edge was implemented to protect the citizens of Israel and that the country cannot act under the instant threat of missiles. This is due to the missiles being sent by terrorists hiding in Gaza and the 3 recent murders of Israeli teenagers. Note however, that as claimed above, it is still unconfirmed who abducted and murdered the 3 Israeli teenagers, however the IDF has pinpointed 2 Hamas operatives as prime suspects. Considering the outspokenness and pride that Hamas and other organizations take in killing Israelis, this begs the question as to why they would not boast about having infiltrated Israel and killed 3 teenagers. On the other hand, it was confirmed that Israeli civilians did kidnap a Palestinian teenager and burned him alive after strangling him. The main issue that causes Hamas and other terrorist organizations to attack Israel is not just because of their anti-Zionist nature, it is because of the oppression that the Palestinian people live under. Any Pro-Israelis that are reading this and are thinking I am making stuff up or am exaggerating, I am sorry to say that Israel does not rank very highly in the Press Freedom Index done by Reporters Without Borders and is in fact lower than countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone. When Israel tells you about all the goods and supplies transferred into Palestinian lands through Israel, it does not tell you that goods and supplies cannot legally be transferred into Palestinian lands from anywhere but Israel so of course they would be coming in from Israel. Even if I were to (legally) donate a million bags of rice to Gaza, it would have to come from Israel. Similarly, the United States of America has dropped 14 spots last year alone in the Press Freedom Index rankings. I mention this because news channels in America have come under scrutiny as people were claiming that they are holding a bias to reporting Israel losses.
The oppressive conditions that Palestinians live under are not being exposed by Israeli soldiers themselves. During their patrols in Palestinian lands, they would harass Palestinians walking by with the aim of provoking a violent response from them. Sergeant Nadav Bigelman gives us an example of one these routines. At 3am, without warning, they entered a civilian house. The commander told him to stand the people in line together and take pictures of them. When he tried to explain the situation, he says it’s indescribable and humiliating to the families. The commander had a paper in hand and outlined the house. Nobody ever asked him for the pictures or to even upload them into a database. These routines were described to be done to make the Palestinians feel uncomfortable and weak and to make the Israeli soldier’s presence apparent. Another soldier recounts the murder of an unarmed unidentified person walking around on a rooftop at 2am. The soldier states: “And basically you think, you see in the United States there’s the death penalty, for every death sentence there are like a thousand appeals and convictions, and they take it very seriously, and there are judges and learned people, and there are protests and whatever. And here a 26-year-old guy, my company commander, sentenced an unarmed man to death.” The fact of the matter is that these aren’t unique cases and are being exposed by the Breaking the Silence movement and the examples I used are from The Gaurdian’s article about this movement. Recently in the ground invasion, Israel has even bombed Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza, the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza because reports claimed that missiles were being shot from near the hospital. But at least they did warn them that it was going to be destroyed and to evacuate patients and personnel… In even more recent developments, Israel has also killed a Journalist with a vest clearly labeled “PRESS”, at least 2 paramedics, destroyed an ambulance, and warned all neutrals to leave Gaza. In Shujaya there were 60 civilian deaths uncovered so far (17 children and 14 women) raising the continuously increasing death toll to more than 400 Palestinians in less than two weeks.
To put that into perspective, the 1948 war had an average death toll of 100-200 soldiers per week from both sides combined… Since the ground invasion, unconfirmed reports state that Israel has had the most economic and personnel losses in recent times that include more than 10 killed soldiers. A man was also killed by rockets fired from Gaza in Dimona.
There is the also huge issue of Israeli colonialism. Sir Nicholas Soames, a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, in a debate on July 14th, 2014, states “This is not just a war about rockets from both sides, but it is actually a war about illegal settlements and stolen lands… I have sat here these last 30 years and heard the same statement for 30 years and nothing has happened.” The matter about colonialism is an undisputed fact. It was the British themselves who have orchestrated the foundation of a Jewish settlement in works with the Zionist movement and yet a few days ago, British parliament members stood up against the Israeli government’s actions, accusing them of war crimes, not looking for peace etc. and the video is public so anyone can search “july 14th, British Parliament statement Gaza” and find it. There are Jewish only streets connecting Jewish settlement in Palestinian lands and even Jewish only parking lots in cities. In many areas, there are walls separating the Jewish and non-Jewish area that’s increasing presence fires up claims against Israel as an Apartheid state.
Speaking about parliaments, Ayalet Shaked, a member of the Israeli parliament is in the midst of a huge controversy as she quoted this on her Facebook page “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.” She was largely interpreted to have said that “the mothers of all Palestinians should be killed so that they don’t breed any more snakes”. She replied to a news reporter saying that she was only referring to the people who view these murderers as heroes and how that in Israel they all mourned the death of Mohammed Abu Khudair (the Palestinian teenager abducted and burned to death in Israel) “But the Palestinian people, they looked at murderers of our children as heroes.” She previously said that she was only referring to the people who view the “murderers of our children” as heroes, and then she states that the Palestinian people viewed these same people as heroes! I hope I am not the only one concerned about this. It is known that Shaked is an extreme Zionist and some would say that nobody even listens to her because of that. However if she is a parliament member, then her group must have some sort of power. I ask now, what about the murders of all the other children being killed in Palestine, does she mourn them as well, or is it only ones that are killed in Israel that matter? My response to her is that no, not all Israelis mourned the death of this boy, the same way that not all Palestinians celebrate the death of Israelis.
When a Vice News reporter, Danny Gold, asks an Israeli citizen, who turns out to be a Combat soldier, “How do you feel about what’s going on right now, in Gaza, with all that’s happening?” the soldier responds, “I think that all these Arabs should die, and I’m going to hit them hard, I’m a Fighter.” later also stating, “There’s nothing we can do. There won’t be peace with them. Retards.” To be fair, there are many pro-Palestine radicals who have a similar mentality towards Israel, however, these people are labeled as terrorists and are generally found in Hamas or other terror organizations and are not government paid soldiers. This is not a unique case, and there are Israelis that sit outside at night, watching and cheering as they see explosions in Gaza. Surely Israel can find a way to inflict less casualties. One option is seen in the USA’s final operation to take out Osama Bin Laden. If Israel can negotiate with Hamas the removal of the blockade on Gaza then there may be no need for even that.
As I previously explained, Israelis and many people who stand with Israel’s oppression against Palestinians are blind to the truth, it is in here that the solution lies. The hate that is found between the two groups in social media is only making matters worse. People are calling out for the Middle Eastern states to engage in warfare. A lot of people. There is more hate in the Arab world today against Israel than people can imagine. The recent ground invasion has left more than 80 thousand people homeless. There are cases where they can’t even identify a child because theirs faces are completely blown off. Once again, I am not making this up. You can easily find this in many news reports on the internet. This is not the right solution. Due to increasing aggression, social media, boycotts and foreign denunciation, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Israel to hide the truth about its oppression from its people. It is my belief that only by having the Israelis see their country’s relentless aggression, can they join protests and bring a peaceful end to them and the Palestinian people. However impossible this may seem, it actually isn’t. This is evident through the increasing amount of protests from all over the world that is uniting Muslims, Christians, Jews, and humanitarians. This includes Jewish protestors in Israel.
McMahon Agreement: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/mcmahon2.htm
Balfour Declaration: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/balfour_declaration_2.htm
Israeli Soldier’s testimonies: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/08/israel-soldiers-speak-out-brutality-palestine-occupation
World Press Freedom Index: http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php
Ayelat Shaked interview: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/10/knesset-member-walks-back-on-facebook-post-calling-palestinian-kids-little-snakes.html
Vice News report: http://www.vice.com/vice-news/rockets-and-revenge-part-3-918
Chicken coop struck by Gaza Rockets: http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/3-rockets-fired-from-Gaza-land-in-Eshkol-Regional-Council-362607
Haaretz news report: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.603913