A Palestinian woman covered in dust rushes with her child in her arms into the hospital following the Israeli bombardment of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023. AFP.
Truth is the first casualty of war. Although a cliché, the statement remains an all-time, all-war maxim. It is evident in Israel’s genocidal Gaza war, which has taken a nasty turn, with hospitals becoming the target.
Hospitals are protected under the Geneva Convention on Warfare. But Israel justifies the hospital attacks, claiming that Hamas militants maintain a tunnel network underneath, using hospitals as command centres and armouries. Doctors and aid workers deny Israel’s claim. Israeli military media showed a few weapons they have alleged to have recovered from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.
But Palestinians say they were planted after Israeli troops moved into the hospital. Who is telling the truth: Hamas or Israel? The Israeli claim was backed by United States President Joe Biden, who is heartlessly refusing to call for a ceasefire even though Israeli attacks have killed some 5,000 Gaza children. But, after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israeli troops and civilians, Biden was caught lying for Israel when he claimed he saw pictures of beheaded Israeli children.
Lies are part of war propaganda. Politicians lie. So do the Zionist-controlled Western media, whose apparent independence is part of a ploy to smuggle lies and propaganda into mainstream news. The gullible masses believe the lies. Social media goes to another level by posting fake evidence, fake videos, and fake stories.
War predates recorded history. War is a necessary evil. Even the United Nations Charter recognises the use of force and permits violence for a just cause—to uphold justice, maintain international peace and security, and stop aggression.
In Israel’s war on army-less, navy-less, and airforce-less Palestine, who has the right to the use of force that Chapter VII of the UN Charter speaks of? If we look at the problem from the October 7 perspective alone, we may say Israel has the right to retaliate. But the attack by Hamas on October 7 did not take place in a vacuum. Behind that attack are more than seven decades of oppression, land-grabbing, and the humiliation of living under military occupation and apartheid. Given this context, which side has the moral right to use violence? Of course, according to international law, it is the Palestinians who are being pounded day in and day out by tonnes of Israeli bombs, the cumulative power of which has exceeded the power of a quarter of a nuclear bomb.
Israel, like any other country, has the right to defend itself, provided it has not harmed others. But what it has been doing since its independence in 1948 are actions that international law has banned and the United Nations has condemned. Israel’s birth was bloody amid massacres of Palestinian civilians and ethnic cleansing—actions international law decries as war crimes. A quarter of a million Palestinians were expelled from villages that Israel wanted to de-Arabize in 1947 and 1948.
Ever since, the Palestinians have become a target for Israel’s regular attacks. Ever since, whatever land was left with the Palestinians was encroached on. Israel built settlements for Jewish migrants. When the Palestinians resisted these illegal settlements, their houses were bulldozed, and their resistance was labelled terrorism. They have been hunted down in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and even faraway Tunisia. Arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily. Among them are children. Many of them languish in prisons without trial. Yet the West hails Israel as the only true democracy in the Middle East. What an insult to democracy! Democracies are law-abiding. They respect human rights and adhere to international law. But no country has violated international law, international humanitarian laws, or international human rights law with such impunity as Israel.
Initially, the Arab world and the Non-Aligned Movement extended their unstinted support for the Palestinian cause. But today, some of the Arab states have let their hands be tied by the so-called Abrahamic Accords with Israel. Others are powerless to intervene and think paying lip service would suffice. Even if, by a quirk of fate, the Arab states get together and decide to wage war on Israel to push back Israel to the borders defined by UN Resolution 181, they are unlikely to succeed, given Israel’s superior firepower and the United States and the rest of the West’s readiness to defend Israel militarily. Though on the map, Israel looked like a tiny territory surrounded by big Arab countries, in reality, Israel is much more powerful than all the Arab countries put together.
There is a big question to be asked when Israel and the countries that support it say Israel has the right to defend itself. Defend it from whom? The Palestinians? The Palestinians count nothing when compared with mighty Israel. The Palestinians have no tanks, no aircraft, no anti-aircraft guns, no iron domes, and no superpower support. But justice and international law are on their side. Those who say Israel has the right to defend itself won’t say that the Palestinians have the right to resist.
Resistance, including armed resistance, against occupation is a right recognised by international law and numerous UN resolutions. The US armed the Mujahideen and called them the resistance because they fought the Soviet troops who were occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s. The US and the West said loudly that every Ukrainian civilian should be armed to resist the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Why hasn’t the Palestinians’ right to resit found recognition in the West?
The pro-Israeli and Zionist-controlled Western media will not highlight the Palestinian right to resist. Part of their job is to dehumanise and demonise the Palestinian resistance and the people. According to their narration, Hamas exists to wipe out Israel from the face of the earth. Hamas owes its growing-up days to the ill-intentioned toleration Israel extended to it to weaken the then-popular Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). But Hamas steadfastly held onto its independence and opposed any peace deal that did not address the thorny issues: Palestinian freedom, the withdrawal of Israel from Palestinian land, the liberation of East Jerusalem, where Islam’s third most sacred mosque is located, and the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the villages from where they were expelled.
Hamas won the 2006 elections to the Palestinian Assembly, but the West refused to recognise the Hamas government and stopped aid to Palestine. Why? If Western countries are true to their claim that they respect democracy, they should have accepted the democratic verdict the Palestinian people overwhelmingly delivered in the 2006 elections. But the West manipulated the events to trigger an armed conflict between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant group in the PLO. The result was that Hamas ended up governing Gaza and Fatah the West Bank. It took several rounds of talks and the Arab world’s diplomatic efforts for the two to strike peace.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council finally adopted a resolution that called not for a ceasefire but extended humanitarian pauses in the fighting to facilitate the passage of aid and medical evacuation. It also called for the unconditional release of some 240 hostages in Hamas custody.
However, given Israel’s lack of respect for international law and multiple UN resolutions, the big question is whether it will comply with the binding UNSC resolution.