After months of rising tensions between Israel and Palestine, aided by criminal neglect from the international community towards the Palestinians’ calls for justice, the conflict-ridden region is now spiralling into a full-blown war. Palestine’s militant group Hamas, backed by Iran, launched the deadliest attack in Israel in 50 years, killing 600 people as of 8:30pm Sunday (Bangladesh time). In retaliation, Israel launched strikes in the Gaza Strip; the Palestinian death toll has already crossed 350. While we condemn the senseless violence at any cost, the violence committed by Hamas cannot be judged by the same yardstick as the violence that Israel has committed over the years for the maintenance of discrimination and oppression in the Palestinian lands. We must acknowledge the root cause behind the so-called “surprise” attack by Hamas, which lies in decades of systemic destruction committed by Israel.
Palestinians have been protesting against Israeli occupation and the violence that has engulfed their lives in what they call an “open-air prison.” This year alone, before the latest escalation, more than 200 Palestinians were killed by Israelis, in largely unprovoked attacks. And each time, the West supported it on the grounds of “self-defence.” While the Arab League and mostly non-Western states have condemned both attacks by Hamas and Israel, the European Union, the US, Canada and the UK have only condemned the violence by Hamas, once again showing their bias. What’s most worrying is that instead of calling for non-violent measures, they have echoed their support for Israel’s right to defend itself, which will lead to more suffering for the oppressed community of Palestinians.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war, while the Israeli Defense Forces are initiating a large-scale operation. Israel has obliterated the supply of electricity in the besieged territory, leaving two million Palestinians to fear for their lives in darkness. The US has offered Israel “all appropriate means of support.” Given Israel’s superior military resources and with aid from powerful nations, we know that the continuance of this violent cycle will result in a disproportionate death toll of Palestinians. But if the international community is truly serious about the two-state solution, it is now high time to address the Israel-Palestine crisis with honesty, holding both sides equally accountable for violence and putting an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian lands. We call on the international community to take urgent action and call for a ceasefire to stop a further escalation of violence.