One and a half months after Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel from Gaza on October 7, 2023, and despite the temporary truce allowing an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, the war between Israel and the Palestinians seems poised to continue. Under US, western and hostage families’ pressure, Israel agreed to the pause in fighting to allow the exchange of some of the hostages in two installments in exchange for the release of some of the almost 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s ‘security custody’. Israel’s belligerence towards the Palestinians and Arabs, however, shows no signs of lessening. While the pause was in effect in Gaza to allow the exchange and some (inadequate) humanitarian supplies to relieve the suffering from thirst, hunger and medical requirements of the suffering people of Gaza, Israeli security forces and settlers in the West Bank continued their attacks on Palestinians, killing eight in 24 hours in Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus. Aggressive Israelis once again invaded Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and, with the help of the Israeli security forces, prevented Palestinians from worshipping there. Syria’s capital Damascus suffered its second bombing by Israel and cessation of flights within one month. This toll can now be added to the almost 15,000 killed and 1.7 million displaced in the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, sparing neither hospitals nor schools nor non-combatant civilians. The biggest irony or macabre joke was when Israel asked the Palestinian residents of Gaza city and the north to move to southern Gaza for safety, only to bomb them en route and when they arrived in the south.
The temporary truce may end soon (some extension notwithstanding), but the Israeli-Palestinian war now seems a long-term affair. Some context. Since the time when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) indulged in plane hijackings in the 1970s, leading eventually (after Black September) to the expulsion of Palestinian fighters from Jordan and the later (1980s) expulsion from Lebanon (where they had relocated) at the hands of the Israeli invaders and their local fascist collaborators (the Falange, et al), the Palestinian armed resistance was left without a base of operations from which to strike at Israel. Yasser Arafat, leader of Al Fatah, then decided to plumb for diplomacy and, with US blessings, signed the Camp David and Oslo Accords that promised a two-state solution that never saw the light of day. The diplomatic/political push by the Palestinians ended up as a damp squib, with, after Arafat’s murder through poisoning by the Israelis, leaving the Palestine Authority (PA, created under the Oslo Accords) housed in the West Bank ineffective and, over time, reduced to a virtual ‘sub-contractor’ of the Israeli state.
By 2007, Hamas rose to challenge the PA in Gaza and has effectively controlled the Strip ever since. Israel’s current foray into Gaza is not the first. Since Hamas was now the only effective armed resistance left in the field, Israel has repeatedly tried to scotch it by invading Gaza, each time to no avail. This time too, Hamas is waging urban guerrilla warfare that is taking a heavier toll of the invaders than they have dared to admit so far. On the other hand, the nascent public opinion the world over that had begun to see through Israel’s propaganda shield of trotting out memories of the Nazi Holocaust in Germany to label the Palestinians anti-Semitic (the irony of course being that Palestinians and Arabs are Semitic too), has grown before our eyes into a flood of sympathy for the beleaguered Palestinians as a result of Israel’s genocidal war. In this respect, seeing the huge turnouts of pro-Palestinian protest around the world, including the west, one is reminded of one’s youth in London in the 1960s when an entire generation turned out against the Vietnam war. Today, as in 1968 (the year of till then the largest protest demonstration ever in London), the people, particularly youth, are at loggerheads with their governments in the west, blindly supporting Israel and trying to suppress pro-Palestinian voices.
Hamas’ October 7 attack has irrevocably changed the equation, not only for Palestine, but for the region and the world as a whole. The Oslo Accords, two-state solution, possible rapprochement between more and more Arab countries and Israel, all this has been duly dumped in the trash can. The Muslim world, as usual, is betraying its spineless, toothless character, in hock as most of it is to the US-led west. There is unlikely to be any peaceful political solution now to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Iran will back Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen to continue the armed resistance against the expansionist, settler colonialist Zionist entity. When that entity is finally brought to its knees, only then perhaps can one hope for a reconciliatory dialogue between the victims and their oppressors, the Palestinians and Israelis, provided of course the latter are prepared to acknowledge their historic wrongs against the latter and prepared to contemplate a different reality that shuns apartheid, discrimination and oppression in favour of a very different Palestine that may include Jews who have shunned Zionism.
Too much to hope for? History is witness to stranger outcomes.Rashed Rahman, "Fallout of the Gaza war," Business recorder. 2023-11-28.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social crises , Prisoner exchange , Israeli-Palestinian war , West Bank , Hamas , Gaza , Israel , PFLP