The collective punishment on Palestinians in Gaza brought on by the Israeli military is considered a human rights catastrophe with no justification, and it must come to an immediate end.
In the past month, Israel has engaged in a conflict with Palestine in the Gaza Strip. According to reports from Hamas, the death toll in Gaza has reached at least 10,000, with thousands more sustaining injuries. Amid the destruction of infrastructure, including war attacks on hospitals and neighborhoods, many individuals are missing, and families are desperately searching for their loved ones amidst the rubble. The violence has led to a dire humanitarian situation, with a significant number of casualties and widespread displacement. Many are considering the outcome to be a genocide of the Palestinian people.
According to the United Nations, genocide is defined as any acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as:
Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
As the Israeli military has carried out recent acts of violent attacks on the Gaza Strip, many in the region and globally have had a close eye on the situation as it further and rapidly develops each day. One of the clearest tactics of war on behalf of Israel is their acts of preventing Palestinians from leaving Gaza, meaning 2 million people are trapped as bombs land over their heads. The Israel-Palestine conflict is a long-standing and deeply rooted dispute in the Middle East region. It must be understood that this conflict and genocide arose from pre-existing tensions influenced by territorial disputes, political tensions, and cycles of violence in the region. Israel has and continues to control every aspect of life in Gaza, including access to water, electricity, and access and use of the internet.
Established in 1948 as a Zionist state following WWII, modern-day Israel claims land in Palestine. This includes Gaza, home to around 2 million Palestinians, creating a societal division between the Muslim and Jewish majorities of both states. Despite being under Israeli governance, both local and diasporic Palestinians view Gaza as an integral part of the internationally unrecognized State of Palestine. This lack of recognition is primarily attributed to Western countries that maintain close foreign relations with Israel. Since the 1967 occupation, Israel has been accused of using apartheid tactics to remove Palestinians from their land. However, the recent self-defense actions carried out by Israel against Hamas are disputed under international law.
After the Palestinian Declaration of Independence was established in 1988, marking more than 40 years since severing ties from the U.K., Palestine has been recognized as an independent nation under the Palestinian National Authority, which governs the West Bank. In 2006, following a conflict along the border with Israel, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. Together, these territories constitute the modern state of Palestine. While neighboring Arab UN member states acknowledge Palestine’s independence, the majority of the Western world still refuses to recognize it as a self-governing state. The conflict remains a global concern and a source of division, especially regarding the political and diplomatic involvement of the Western world in the region.
One of the most perplexing aspects of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the intricate landscape involving foreign aid, weapons supply, and human rights concerns. Analyzing this multifaceted issue from a balanced perspective is essential, taking into account the various dimensions of this complex conflict.
Israel has been the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since the Western world undertook international development after the conclusion of World War II. This aid encompasses financial support and the provision of advanced weaponry, significantly bolstering Israel’s military capabilities. The robust alliance between the United States and Israel has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy in the region for decades.
Conversely, the U.S. has also extended humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people during periods of crisis. Most recently, U.S. President Joe Biden pledged USD 100 million in humanitarian aid packages to Palestinians in response to the violence in the Gaza Strip that has led to the death and injury of thousands of innocent lives. This aid is intended to address the immediate needs of Palestinians affected by the conflict. The question of how the U.S. should responsibly provide financial and military support to Israel while also expressing a commitment to the well-being of the Palestinian people during times of conflict is a point of scrutiny and debate.
A critical concern in the ongoing conflict is the impact of Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian-inhabited Gaza Strip. The intensity and consequences of these air strikes have garnered attention from the international community, with a particular focus on civilian casualties and the proportionality of the use of violent force in Palestine.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has also raised allegations of human rights violations, particularly in the treatment of Palestinians living in the inhabited territories. The United Nations has been actively involved in addressing these concerns, attempting to promote stability in the region. However, the United Nations has taken limited action following the outbreak of the current conflict that has unfolded. The only notable measure is the issuance of “a plan that outlines the minimum necessary to scale up humanitarian operations in support of 2.2 million people in the Gaza Strip and 500,000 of the most vulnerable in the West Bank,” as reported by the United Nations in October 2023.
The appointment of UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has given rise to concerns regarding the ethical responsibilities of corporations during conflicts. Notably, Russell’s spouse is Thomas E. Donilon, the Chairman of BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment firms. The concern here is that BlackRock is also a significant shareholder in gun stocks. This connection has sparked particular worry due to the organization’s involvement in the allocation of arms in Israel. Given UNICEF’s crucial role in providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children, especially in conflict zones, the association with a prominent figure in a major investment firm with stakes in the firearms industry raises questions about how decisions related to arms allocation in conflict zones, such as Israel, might be influenced or perceived.
Historically, international treaties under the United Nations have sought to address some of the harmful weapons used in conflicts across the Middle East region. The prohibition of ‘cluster munitions’ is one such measure aimed at reducing civilian casualties and safeguarding the rights of individuals affected by these munitions.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a highly complex issue with deep-seated historical roots. The divergent approaches of Western nations, the involvement of foreign aid, weapons supply, and human rights concerns make this an intricate and contentious matter. From its inception, the conflict has been consistently evolving on a daily basis.
The international community must continue to seek a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict that respects the rights and dignity of all those affected. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and crisis in Gaza underscore the importance of diplomacy, dialogue, and a determination to remain committed to human rights in pursuit of a lasting solution that benefits all parties involved.
Who to follow on Instagram for further information on the current situation in Gaza:
*Sensory warning – As a precaution these profiles share many images and videos of the situation that some may regard as triggering, uncomfortable, or difficult to view.
One of the most effective ways to stay informed about the situation is by accessing new information shared online by local Palestinians in Gaza. Instagram has been one of the primary platforms for accessing this information.
Motaz Azaiza, photographer – @motaz_azaiza
Plestia Alaqad, 21-year-old journalist – @byplestia
Wael Dahdouh, journalist – @wael_eldahdouh
Hamza Wael, photographer – @hamza_w_dahdooh
Jewish Voices for Peace – @jewishvoiceforpeace
Eye on Palestine – @eye.on.palestine
Institute for Middle East Understanding – @theimeu