Both Israel and Hamas have claimed to be victorious in the latest conflict after a ceasefire was announced. The ceasefire comes after 11 days of bloodshed and violence in Gaza where more than 240 Palestinian people have lost their lives, including 66 children. (Muhammad Semiz, Anadolu Agency, 2021)
Residential and commercial buildings in the Gaza strip were leveled, 58,000 people have been made homeless, bringing widespread destruction and devastation to the already ravaged land.
Israel remains mostly untouched due to its high-tech defense systems such as the Iron dome, and the death toll is reportedly a mere 12.
Due to a recent outburst of content related to the subject on many social media platforms, now most of us, both the youth and the elder generation, have been exposed to information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in one way or another.
The recent attacks by Israel were some of the most violent and vicious that the helpless palestinians have seen in the past few years but this violence has been going on for decades, before people can move on to helping, it is crucial to understand what exactly this struggle is about.
The current political conflict that you see began in the early 20th century, in essence, what happened was that Jews escaping oppression and persecution in Europe came to Palestine as refugees , which was a Muslim majority territory a part of the Ottoman Empire and later on under the British Empire. The land had people following the faith of all the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) who lived and coexisted.
These Jewish refugees wanted to establish a national homeland in this territory however the existing Arabs resisted, seeing the land as legitimately theirs. It is important to note that before the establishment of the illegitimate state of Israel in 1948, the Jews purchased land in Palestine starting from the 1880s however even until 1944, the Jews had legally acquired only 6% of the land.
The United Nations drafted plans to give each group of the inhabitants of palestine a part of the land however these plans failed. Eventually, the British withdrew from the region, unable to contain the violence and now the new illegal state of Israel (composed of mainly the Jewish refugees) fought bitter wars over the land with neighboring Arab nations and the Palestinians. The Israeli forces defeated the Palestinians and Arab forces in these unruly wars which led to 700,000 Palestinian civilians fleeing as refugees from their own land into the neighboring Arab nations, they have not been permitted to return to this day. The previous partition drafted by the UN had promised about 56 percent of British Palestine for the creation of the Jewish state (Israel) however by the end of these wars the new state now occupied roughly 77 percent of the territory, the areas left included the Gaza strip which was controlled by Egypt and the eastern quarter of Jerusalem and the West Bank which was controlled by Jordan. In the end, Israelis were surely left with a land to call their own but the Palestinians were not. (Zack Beauchamp, Vox, 2018)
The violence continued from then, and it has never ended.
In 2014 Israel launched the single biggest assault on Gaza since the war of 1967. The assault aka Operation Protective Edge, in which more than 2130 innocent Gazans were murdered and 11,100 were left wounded. The Israeli oppression has not stopped to date.
It is important to combat the spread of misinformation that can delude and deceive people into picking a side without first examining all the facts. The most commonly spread misconception is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war over religion, this, in fact, is inaccurate. Before the creation of the state of Israel in 1947, Christians, Muslims, and Jews coexisted in the region that was known as Palestine. The word Palestinian is not simply a representative of the Muslim community but of the Palestinian Christian and Muslim community both, presently the Palestinian Jewish community, which is a term representing the Jewish citizens of Palestine before the creation of the modern state of Israel have become more commonly known as the Israeli Jewish community. Rather than a dispute between religions, this is a dispute between nationalities, Israeli and Palestinian.
Another common myth about the situation is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for centuries, this is by far the most factually incorrect belief about the conflict. This conflict is a very modern event, at the earliest you can say the formation for the conflict began in the early 1900s however formally it began in 1948. That means that although the situation has progressively gone on for about a 100 years at most, it’s still less than the 1000 0r 3000 years you regularly hear people adamantly cite, especially online. It is an undeniable fact that Israel has a deep control over the media which is exactly why this myth was able to take root, you see Israel tends to spread misinformation about its history as a settler colony to conceal the reality of the genocide it is commiting. This is because it is much easier for people to dissociate themselves from a situation that has been wrongfully reduced to a religious conflict that has been going on since the beginning of time rather than a modern conflict over which parties can be held responsible in accordance with international laws.
The third most common misconception people believe, or perhaps people want to believe, is that during the quiet periods there is peace. People tend to think that the days on which information on the conflict is not front and center on news channels, that the situation is peaceful and all is well in the territory, this is simply never true, not for Palestinians. During the early 2000s, Israel built gigantic walls around the West Bank and Gaza areas which were to physically separate the Palestinians from the Israelis. Israelis now have the benefit of living physically away from the conflict, of course, those who live in the south are conscious of the rockets being shot at them from Gaza, they are more or less unaffected due to defense systems such as the Iron Dome.
Tel Aviv feels like a tranquil and flourishing Mediterranean beach city but the story for their neighboring Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is the complete opposite, with Israeli occupation forces trailing and patrolling the communities and never-ending blockades, Palestinians live under constant threat, fear, and daily humiliations at Israeli checkpoints. The Israeli occupation has harshly constricted movement and trade which severely affects the economy and other aspects of the Palestinians lives.
Now the real question stands, How can you and I help and support the Palestinians being persecuted and oppressed?
First and foremost, make sure the people in your family and your community are well aware of the reality of the situation, of this Apartheid. We have entered an era where wars are not simply fought by guns anymore, but also in the form of economic and electronic warfare. Gathering enough support for the Palestinian blight is every bit as important as physical aid. This is why the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah, the recent community that the Israeli settlers are attempting to occupy, are taking videos of the atrocities occurring in their neighborhood, they want you to know what is happening to them and they want you to speak out and fight for them. Keep posting about Palestine on your social media platforms, don’t let the fire die out as it has so many times before, the ceasefire is not an end to the violence occurring in Gaza and the West Bank each and every day. Only 12 hours after the ceasefire the Israeli forces attacked the people within Masjid Al Aqsa, this is a testament that they do not intend to stop this genocide. Make sure to like, save, share and comment underneath posts regarding Palestine as many social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are limiting the reach of such posts. Keeping the social media movement alive is one of the most efficient and effective ways to help Palestinians by putting pressure on the Israeli forces.
Secondly, participate in the BDS movement and encourage others to do so as well. The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement) aims to end the support of the international community for Israel’s abuse of Palestinians and to put enough pressure on Israel so that it has to comply with international law. Create BDS groups in your community and make sure to boycott companies which are guilty of supporting and facilitating the Israeli occupation in one way or the other.
Thirdly, donate to NGOs and non profit foundations, both global and local, that send aid to the people in Palestine. Be sure to look into the organization you are sending your donations to, as some appear as if they aid Palestine but actually fund terrorist groups. A great reputable foundation to donate to is the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan which is actively trying to dispatch its humanitarian teams to Gaza to provide aid, and the reliable Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan which is on the ground in Gaza to help the affected Palestinians.