Towards Armageddon?

The ceasefire agreement announced by the Israeli government late on Thursday came as a welcome development for peaceniks across the world. Although Palestinians living in Gaza, rightly termed an ‘open-air prison’, heaved a sigh of relief as the 11-day-long hell had subsided, yet this brief but horrendous war has taken a heavy toll on their lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians.

According to independent sources, harrowing scenes of bloodletting and butchery in the streets of the blockaded territory have resulted in the loss of more than 200 lives, a quarter of which comprised of children, and has wounded hundreds of civilians. Besides, more than 120,000 Palestinians have been rendered homeless owing to the indiscriminate airstrikes by Israeli forces that reduced many houses, residential buildings, hospitals, mosques, schools, and media offices to rubble.

Not to speak of the loss of men and material, the psychological aspect of this onslaught is too enormous to fathom. Children and adolescents are having nightmares as they reel from the trauma they have undergone during this hellish stint. The sorry plight of the beleaguered people could well be surmised by the soulful assessment by UN chief Antonio Guterres who said, “If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.”

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire might have put the grinding atrocities against Palestinians on the back burner for a while, but they are far from over. If history is any guide, the violence is likely to revisit Gaza sooner rather than later since the longstanding issues remain unresolved. However, the recent gory episode has few important takeaways to offer which merit due attention.

For one, it has exposed the current liberal world order as biased and prejudiced. The systematic colonial campaign to transfer Jewish populations to occupied Palestinian lands constitute war crimes under the Geneva conventions. Similarly, the indiscriminate aerial attacks on a civilian population in Gaza are in stark contravention of the International Law of warfare.

However, instead of taking the Zionist regime to task for its egregious crimes against humanity, the world community, the west, in particular, has kept a mum on the issue. Still worse, some western leaders have even tried to put a different spin on events in the war-torn strip by striking a sympathetic note towards Israel while heaping all the slurs and blames on Hamas.

Western media has also done a great disservice to humanity by projecting Palestinian struggle in a negative light and by equating criticism of Israeli hostilities with ‘anti-Semitism’. If anything, the recent aggression has laid bare the moral bankruptcy and deep-seated biases of the Western World.

Even more shocking has been the unedifying role of President Joe Biden, the self-proclaimed supporter of basic human rights, during this humanitarian catastrophe. Though the Presidential legacy dictated no different than what he did, yet, given his humanitarian leanings, one expected his administration to deal with the crisis in a more dispassionate manner. Far from trying to snuff out the violence, the Biden administration kept adding fuel to the fire by blocking UNSC’s unanimous condemnation of the Israeli bombardments and by defending Israeli attacks as acts of ‘self-defense’. Only after several days of savagery did the White House call for the de-escalation.

In addition, the recent wave of violence has shown that the ‘Abraham Accords’ signed last year have stripped Palestinians of all the vestiges of moral and diplomatic support from the Arab world. Israel did not keep its commitment and pressed ahead with its annexation agenda in the West Bank as evidenced by its repressive tactics in Sheikh Jarrah. By contrast, the countries’ signatories to the peace deal found their wings clipped as they could do nothing more than making hollow ‘calls for restraint’. Thus, it goes without saying that the sentiment of ‘Pan-Arabism’ that long rallied behind the Palestinian cause has died once and for all, leaving the door open for the Zionists to do as they please.

In a similar vein, the frailty and disunity of the Muslim world have come to the spotlight yet again. Arguably, the concept of Muslim Ummah is on the wane, and the Pan-Islamic spirit is giving way to sectarian fissures and pursuit of narrow national interests. This could well be seen by the moribund status of OIC, which could best be described as a toothless tiger with no power to speak of.

Unsurprisingly, the recent OIC meeting did not yield anything out of the box, beyond traditional caveats and condemnations. The only Muslim country that acts as an effective counterweight to Israeli shenanigans in the region is Iran, but the Islamic Republic is itself gasping for air under crippling US economic sanctions. Apart from that, the countries like Turkey and Pakistan, though determined in the desire to help their fellow brethren, could not generate the crescendo to be heard in the circle of powers that be.

Since the conclusion of the 2nd intifada in 2005 and the subsequent capture of levers of powers in Israel by the more right-wing leaders, the Israeli policies concerning Palestine have shifted from resolving the issue towards managing it. This trend has reached its apex under the incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who looks down upon and has completely disregarded the ‘two-state solution as proposed by the UN resolution of 1948. To make matters worse, the former president Donald Trump provided the former the carte blanche to fulfill his sinister designs by rolling out his highly jaundiced ‘Deal of the Century’ at the cost of Palestinian interests. This controversial proposal has become the baseline of Israeli stance on the issue today.

Perhaps the most paramount takeaway from this recent spree of hostilities is the unmistakable message given by the Palestinians to the world that East Jerusalem and the holy mosque therein are the redlines. The anger had long been simmering among Palestinians over Israel’s systematic efforts at evicting them from the Shaikh Jarrah neighborhood. However, occupying force’s clumsy attack on al-Aqsa proved to be the tipping point that culminated in the latest fiasco.

Despite being left in the lurch by fellow Arabs, valiant and dauntless Palestinians have taken upon themselves to fend off Israeli aggression. For the first time in more than half a decade, the political analysts cast fears about the prospects of an eruption of the ‘Third intifada’. The deafening silence and brazen hypocrisy of the west have further stoked the fury and rage among Palestinian freedom fighters. The outbreak of a full-blown uprising will have dangerous consequences for the peace of the globe. So, the West must realize that it is walking on a tightrope by turning a blind eye to Israeli brutalities, especially when the world echoes with cries of ‘Free Palestine’.

Sanity needs to prevail on powers that call the shots in the developed world. Israel needs to be dissuaded from beating the drums of war, and efforts need to be made towards honoring UN resolutions on the issue. However, if the Israeli reign of terror is not checked timely, the world might soon misstep into what Abrahamic religions refer to as ‘Armageddon’ i.e. the final battle between the forces of good and evil. Surely, the world can ill-afford death and destruction on such an unprecedented scale.

 

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