11 days of barbarism

11 days of barbarism

May 22, 2021

A ceasefire agreed between Israel and Hamas came into effect yesterday, ending 11 days of brutal Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which killed over 230 Palestinians. More than 100 of the victims were women and children, according to Palestinian health authorities. Meanwhile, 12 deaths were recorded on the Israeli side, with the country's health ministry saying that two of the victims were children. The death tolls themselves illustrate the disproportionate level of the Israeli response to — as it claims — Hamas aggression. On Thursday alone, Israel conducted over 100 airstrikes on Gaza, claiming it was attacking 'Hamas infrastructure'.

The shameless attacks came as the UN was holding an emergency meeting on the latest Israeli assault on Palestine. At the UN, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was among the global leaders calling for an end to Israel's "relentless onslaught" on Palestine. He highlighted the death and destruction wrought by Israel, including the impact the bombing campaign had on health services and the supply of food, water, and electricity. He also spoke of Israel's attacks on the media, including the bombing of the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. He also called for the deployment of an international protection force to end the violence in Palestine. At the same time, Qureshi called out the US for repeatedly blocking attempts by the UN Security Council to issue a resolution condemning Israeli attacks. In fact, on Thursday, the US even blocked a weaker resolution that simply called for a ceasefire and condemned "the indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian areas", even though the resolution did not name Israel as doing so.

Before the UN session, Qureshi also hosted a working dinner where the attendees included Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Palestine's Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki, Tunisian Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi, UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, and several other envoys of OIC member states. That meeting and earlier interactions in Turkey and with OIC leaders online also saw Qureshi condemning the current violence and "Israel's deliberate and systematic assault against Palestinian worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque". Qureshi also called out Israel's illegal settlement policy and the forced eviction of Palestinians, which most people agree was the spark that caused the latest round of violence.

But it must be acknowledged that peace and prosperity in Palestine are not contingent on anything that Pakistan, or even any other Muslim country, does. Israel regularly claims that attacks on its policies are motivated by anti-Semitism, and this claim is routinely accepted at face value by politicians in the US — the only country that matters. That is why the recent opinions expressed by former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders matter. The popular socialist politician, who is Jewish, has referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "desperate, racist authoritarian". A few days back, in an opinion piece in New York Times, Sanders wrote that Israel is "the one sovereign authority in the land of Israel and Palestine”, and that "rather than preparing for peace and justice, it has been entrenching its unequal and undemocratic control”. He also bluntly said something that nobody in the administration of US President Joe Biden has bothered to since the violence began. "Palestinian lives matter."