Conflict in Gaza
Amid the blaze of publicity around the conflict in Gaza it is worth examining the context in which this is taking place
A surprise attack by Hamas on 7 October 2023 left Israelis feeling outraged. Hundreds of dead have been reported on both sides of the conflict and the numbers are continuing to rise as Israel pounds Gaza with fiercest air strikes ever.
The Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, Hamas, has rightly been proscribed as a terrorist organisation. Its rocket attacks on Israel over several years are intended to terrorise the Israeli population. “Under its charter, it is committed to the destruction of Israel.”
Western leaders have issued a Joint Statement on Israel:
“Today, we — President Macron of France, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Meloni of Italy, Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom, and President Biden of the United States — express our steadfast and united support to the State of Israel, and our unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism.”
Israel has the right under International Law to defend itself. Israel’s Netanyahu vows ‘mighty vengeance’ against Hamas, and the MirYam Institute has written that Only the elimination of Hamas will do; Israel can accept no less. It is an understandable aim, but one that will be difficult for Israel to achieve without harming civilians.
Nothing can justify the mass slaughter of civilians by Hamas. Although it was a surprise attack, the conflict in Gaza was nonetheless known to be probable. It was not a massive, unprovoked attack on Israel, as the Jerusalem Post described it. Some Israeli settlers are as uncompromising as Hamas, and want to claim the whole of the West Bank of the Jordan and Gaza as an exclusively Jewish state. They have been systematically provoking the Palestinians:
● The UN Security Council passed a resolution urging an end to illegal Israeli settlements in December 2016, but new settlements continued to be built under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governments.
● The provocations continued, as it was reported in August 2023 that Palestinian fears grow amid rising Israeli settler attacks.
● The ultimate provocation, on 4 October 2023, was when Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on fifth day of Sukkot: “Israeli settlers have stormed the complex in groups and attempted to perform ‘Talmudic rituals’, according to a Waqf official”.
Neither Hamas nor those Israeli settlers want peace. The Hamas charter makes it impossible for any compromise to be reached for a peaceful settlement. Each group wants to totally eliminate the other. The problems date back to the UN’s establishment of the State of Israel in 1947, to provide a place of safety for displaced Jews, in land that had belonged to the Palestinians for generations. Violence erupted immediately (and unsurprisingly). It will be very difficult to establish a peaceful segmentation of power (220.127.116.11), unless Jewish and Arab extremists can be more effectively curbed. Yet peace is what most Israelis and Palestinians want.