The recent intifada has led to sizable human and material destruction revealing the magnitude of animosity that exists among groups that reside in the state of the middle east. In times, when the human race is reeling with the pandemic of coronavirus, Israel has descended into utter chaos which has caused the tremendous apocalypse. The world in general and West Asia, in particular, has embraced mayhem as Palestinians across the globe and their fraternity took to the street demanding swift action against persecution and state-sponsored terror being inflicted on minority groups making demand for its right. It is not a unilateral move, however, as extremist group Hamas, too, launched disproportionate rocket attacks from their base at Gaza. The prime minister of the republic- Benjamin Netanyahu consequently vowed to continue the crackdown unless Hamas will be wiped out.
There has been varied opinion in India as people are showing their solidarity with either group, it is important to delve into factors that have led to the number of conflicts over the years.
Present-day Israel was under Ottoman rule for around 400 years, the fall of which after world war 1, brought it to the control of the British Empire. The growth of Nationalism across Europe and Asia after the Russian revolution resulted in widespread demand for an independent nation by Arabs. This was not, though, was simple for the ruling empire to leave the nation as Jewish wanted a state for themselves, too as they also deemed land to be holy and of their forefathers. The British empire who was the champion of divide-rule policy proposed a two-state solution and offered 80% of the territory to Palestinians and the remaining land for the Jewish state. The Arabs didn’t accept the offer and revolted against the Jews with violence. They had to move to the UN for resolving the conflict which came with the 48-44-12 formula (Percentage of land for Palestine-Israel- Common territory to be governed by UN respectively). The Arabs outright rejected it and never recognized the Jewish state of Israel. They constantly rebelled and tried to reoccupy the territory which was born out in the six-day war of 1967 and proved to be decisive and left a never-ending shadow on the geopolitics of West Asia. Israel defeated Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon collectively and captured entire Palestinian territory including the sacred city of Jerusalem to assert its sovereignty. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel recently, which has strengthened the authority of the Jewish over it and left huge hostility in the hearts of Muslims. It gave breeding ground for extremism to grow further paving way for future revolts. The Palestinians have always viewed Jews as aliens and so the other Muslim states of the region and have barely been in any diplomatic tie with Israel.
The war of 2021
The current disturbance had its genesis in a supreme court ruling which stated that the Palestinian should vacate the city of Sheik Jarrah. They were disgraced by the judgment of the apex court and burst with aggression over civilians and police on the 10th of May – the day which is celebrated by Jews as ‘Jerusalem Day’ to celebrate its dominance over the city. On the holy day of Ramadan, the Muslims were prevented access to Al-Aqsa mosque which is considered as the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. They perceived barring of religious gathering in bad spirit and conflict began to gain traction among violent protestors and local policemen. The civilians threw stones while police retaliated with a rubber bullet in the premises of the mosque. The extremist group which has its base in the Gaza strip saw it as an opportunity to challenge the Israeli government which is suffering political instability after the Netanyahu administration failed to secure a majority after two consecutive elections. They initiated to launch of hundreds of rockets on the cities including Tel- Aviv. The Israel security forces instituted an iron dome, a time-tested method, to defend its citizens which demolished rockets in the sky itself, annulling any chance of substantive damage. In addition, the Israeli security forces bombed several launch pads and residents of Hamas militants which killed innocent people including women and children. The death toll rose every day and thousand got wounded, though, the crackdown by Israeli forces continues despite global criticism, particularly from Arab Nations.
India’s locus standi on the issue and way forward
Many of the countries across the globe stringently condemned the attack by Israel and demanded intervention of the UN to normalize the situation. Several nations, however, exhibited solidarity with Israel and termed their move as retaliation to defend themselves (including president Biden) and saw it as a response to terrorism. Netanyahu didn’t take much time to display his gratitude towards them on social media.
India, too, almost sticking to its traditional stand, has asked for a cessation of violence and a two-state solution even though the prime minister of both states (India and Israel) shares very cordial and friendly relations. Furthermore, India has a vested interest in Arab nations and healthy diplomatic ties which prohibit them from strongly favoring either side. India’s stand did catch many by surprise due to its staunch opposition to extremism in recent years, however, the pandits of International politics understand the strategic calculation that worked behind it. TS Trimurti, in a very balanced fashion, asked for de-escalation, just solution for Palestine along with criticizing indiscriminate attack by Hamas without giving any hype to east Jerusalem.
In addition, the disturbing visuals coming through different media agencies and social sites pushed the security council to hold an emergency plenary to take note of the situation and to avoid any further loss of lives. The US sent its envoy to mediate and make negotiations to de-escalate the tension and prevent war from taking an uglier turn. Russian Administration warned Israel against their action and reminded them that further escalation may lead them into full-blown war. They viewed the situation as a challenge and direct threat to peace in the region. The mediation by Egypt and other international pressure has finally resulted in a truce after 11 days of war killing more than hundreds of civilians in Palestine and a few in Israel including an Indian nurse from Kerala.
The damage incurred due to attacks by both sides would have long time ramification on the minds of people. The regional power, putting their conflict aside for a while, should sit together and aspire to resolve the conflict permanently which they have sought time and again by raising voice but not doing enough work in the right direction. The future of Palestinians can be secured that way and the region can prosper. This is, however, highly unlikely because that wouldn’t serve the purpose of extremist groups like Hamas and of those powers that is operating them from distant. The Americans, also, wouldn’t like to see an end to the conflict as it wouldn’t serve their purpose strategically. The history bears testimony to their vague effort for a solution. The Israeli and Palestinian leadership, too, would never sit for talk as there is huge bifurcation amongst them on the issue. It would be interesting to see how other powers like Turkey which tries to portray itself as Guardian of the Islamic world will take the initiative. Future holds the key to these answers.
(Abhigyan Ranjan is a second year bachelors student at the College of Integrated Studies, University of Hyderabad)