Clashes between Israel and Hamas -the ruling party in Gaza (Part of Israeli occupied Palestine) began on May 6 this year, when Palestinians commenced protests after evening prayers in the vicinity of the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, over an expected decision of the Israeli Supreme Court on the eviction of six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. The protests were violently countered by Israeli Police.
On May 7, Palestinians threw stones at the Israeli police force, who then stormed the compound of the al-Aqsa Mosque using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.
Violence worsened by May 8 (Qadr Night) observed by Muslims, and Jerusalem Day (9–10 May), an Israeli national holiday. The confrontations occurred ahead of a planned Jerusalem Day march by far-right Jewish nationalists that was later cancelled. More than 600 people, mostly Palestinians were injured, drawing international condemnation.
On May 10 Hamas warned Israel to withdraw its security forces from the Temple Mount complex and Sheikh Jarrah by 6.00 p.m. or face consequences.
When the deadline passed without a response from Israel, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into Israel. On 16 May Israel airstrikes targetted civilian targets in Gaza. The continuing attacks demolished, 18 buildings including four high-rise towers, 40 schools, four hospitals, as well as the al-Shati refugee camp.
In addition, at least 19 medical facilities were damaged or destroyed by Israeli bombardments. The al-Jalaa Highrise, housing offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera as well as 60 condominiums, was destroyed on 15 May, prompting an international outcry. By May 17, the United Nations estimated that Israel had demolished 94 buildings in Gaza, comprising 461 housing and commercial units.
As a result of the violence, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed. At least 72,000 Palestinians had been displaced. In Israel, 13 people were killed. On May 13 Hamas called for a ceasefire, but it was rejected by Israel Premier Netanyahu.
With casualties and the death rate rising, on May 18, France, along with Egypt and Jordan, announced the filing of a United Nations Security Council Resolution for a ceasefire. With international pressure mounting, Israel was forced to accept a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt between Israel and Hamas which came into effect on 21 May 2021, ending 11 days of fighting.
On May 27 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to investigate crimes that may have been committed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. The document calls for the Council’s first-ever permanent commission of inquiry to be set up to report on rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
The text said the Commission would also be tasked with investigating “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict,’’ including discrimination and repression.
The resolution was passed by 24 - 9 with 9 abstentions. Sadly, over the years many similar resolutions have been passed after each Israeli attack on the people of Palestine. The UN Rights Commission passed similar resolutions in 2017, 2014 and 2009.
Even more sad was the fact that in 2009, it was Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision not to endorse a highly critical UN inquiry into the January war. The inquiry, by the South African judge Richard Goldstone, accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Israel Premier Netanyahu in his customary bluster, denounced the UN Resolution of May 27, calling it an act of Anti-Semitism. However, large sections of the Israeli population are also tiring of Netanyahu’s leadership and the growing charges of corruption with which he is being charged in courts of law. Within the last two years of indecisive elections, they have not provided him (Netanyahu) a mandate to rule that country. However, cobbling an assortment of coalitions, the Premier has attempted to cling on to power.
By yesterday it was clear that his days as Premier seemed to be numbered. But does this portend well for the long-suffering Palestinians?
Israel’s Premier-in-waiting -Naftali Bennett- in an interview with Al Jazeera claims the whole of Palestine for Israel based on Biblical myths, that the land has been given to the Jews by none lesser than God himself! Twitter feeds have him claiming to have killed ‘lots of Arabs...’ which he feels is his duty.
So, it does not appear the Palestinians will fare better under the new Israeli regime.
A lot will depend on whether the UN Rights Council will be permitted to perform its task, or whether as in 2009 someone somewhere will pull the rug under the UN.