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Israel- Palestine conflict

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Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel...Nothing is more pitiful than a nation being swept.

By: GULZAR AHMAD

For those who suffered apartheid, one tends to believe that they might never do so to anyone else. But it is a tragedy that Jews who suffered holocaust, the horrible human tragedy, aren’t raising their voice when the state of Israel is precisely doing so with Palestine. Images of Palestinian children, women, young and old men gasping for air under the rubble of the bombed buildings should shock Jews more than anyone else.

Although there are many staggering political conflicts in the world, especially in the Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the worst human catastrophe ever. Over the past seven decades, it has directly and indirectly inflamed the region and in varying degrees the whole Muslim world. Other crisis in the region from time to time eclipse, but the Israeli-Palestinian issue in its intensity, bloodshed, and regional and international impact remains unsettled since 1948. It is more ironic when seen from the historical perspective as Israel having suffered holocaust, is now wrecking another holocaust on the Palestinians.

But without a just settlement of this issue, the people of the Palestine will remain targets of barbaric and murderous assaults by the Israel; by their panicking monarchies and corrupt dictatorships; and by the terrorist reactions of radicalized and traumatized victims of domestic and external state terror.

Tensions have been building up since the start of Ramadhan in the mid-April when Israel police set up barricades at the Damascus Gate outside the occupied old city, preventing the Palestinians gathering there. The threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in the east Jerusalem in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarra escalated the crisis further in the last week of Ramadhan.

The tension further intensified over the brutalities and cruelties inflicted by the Israeli forces on the worshipers offering the Salah in Al-Aqsa Mosque just before Eid ulFitr. Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest places in the Islamic faith. It sits inside a 35-acre site known by Muslims as Haram esh-Sharief, or the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews as the Temple Mount. The site is part of the Old City of Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The history of the Israeli-Palestine conflict began with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.The seeds of the conflict were sown in 1917 when the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed official support of Britain for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine under the Balfour Declaration. The lack of concern for the “rights of existing non-Jewish communities” i.e. the Arabs led to prolonged violence.

Unable to contain Arab and Jewish violence, Britain withdrew its forces from Palestine in 1948, leaving the responsibility for resolving the competing claims to the newly created United Nations (UN). The UN presented a partition plan to create independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine. Most Jews in Palestine accepted the partition while majority of the Arabs did not.

In 1948, the Jewish declaration of Israel’s independence prompted surrounding Arab states to attack and a full-fledged war broke out. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes. More than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs – about half of prewar Palestine’s Arab population – fled or were expelled from their homes, during the war. The exodus was a central component of the fracturing, dispossession and displacement of Palestinian society, known as the Nakba, in which between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were destroyed and Palestinian history erased. This also refers to the wider period of war itself and the subsequent oppression up to the present day. The precise number of refugees, many of whom settled in refugee camps in neighboring states, is a matter of dispute but around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (half of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes. About 250,000–300,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled before the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948, a fact which was named as a ‘casus belli’ for the entry of the Arab League into the country, sparking the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

Many Palestinian families moved to Sheikh Jarra in East Jerusalem to settle there. In 1956, when east Jerusalem was ruled by Jordon, the Jordan’s Ministry of Construction and Development and the UN Relief and Works Agency facilitated the construction of houses for these families in Sheikh Jarra. But Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordon in 1967. By the early 1970’s Jewish agencies started demanding the families leave the land. Jewish committees claimed that the houses set on the lands that they had purchased in 1885.Earlier this year, the Central Court in East Jerusalem upheld a decision to evict four Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarra in favour of Jewish settlers.

Jerusalem has been at the centre of Israel-Palestinian conflict. According to the original 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was proposed to be an international city. But in the first Arab Israel war of 1948, the Israelis captured the western half of city, and Jordan took the Eastern part, including the old City that houses Haram esh-Sharif. AlAqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of Rock are situated within Harramesh-Sharief. One side of the compound, called Temple Mount by the Jewish, is the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), which is believed to be the remains of the Second Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordon in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed it later. Since its annexation, Israel has expanded settlements in East Jerusalem, which is now home for 220000 Jews. Jews born in the East Jerusalem are Israeli citizens, while Palestinians in the city are given conditional residency permits. Palestinians in East Jerusalem, unlike other parts of the occupied West Bank, can, however, apply for Israel citizenship. Israel sees the whole city as its” unified, eternal capital”, a claim endorsed by Donald Trump when he was US president but not recognized by most other countries.

The current situation in the Israel-Palestine region is alarming and needs to be resolved immediately and every passing second may be the end of lives of many innocent people in the region. UN Chief Antonio Guterres also demanded immediate halt on the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, “the conflict could unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism”, said the UN Chief.

The world is already becoming multi polar by getting divided into multiple power blocs and the Palestine-Israel region has become a storm center of world politics which may land the world into the disastrous third World center.

-Author can be reached at [email protected]

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