Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians imminent: UN, calls for immediate ceasefire

The attack by Hamas against the Israeli regime ten days has very quickly brought out the villains and subterfuges out in the open, opines Asad Mirza……

The latest offensive against Israel by Hamas on 6th October has outplaced the Russia-Ukraine conflict out of the news cycle and currently occupies the topmost headlines and news updates.

It has also brought forth the different dimensions of the issue and the response of various parties to it, and what appals most is that none of the many parties responsible for getting it resolved are concerned about the vast scale of the human tragedy taking place in Gaza.

By the 10th day of Hamas’s offensive against Israel, official figures reported that 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the latest fighting erupted, making this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for Palestinians. For Israel, this is the deadliest war since the 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria.

Meanwhile, a UN human rights expert warned on Saturday last that Palestinians are in grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing and called on the international community to urgently mediate a ceasefire between warring Hamas and Israeli occupation forces.

“The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel has reached fever pitch,” said Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.

“The United Nations and its Member States must intensify efforts to mediate an immediate ceasefire between the parties, before we reach a point of no return,” said Albanese. “The international community has the responsibility to prevent and protect populations from atrocity crimes. Accountability for international crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and Hamas must also be immediately pursued,” she said.

Since 7 October 2023, more than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 600 children, more than 7,600 injured, and over 423,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Israeli strikes. This fate befell a population which has already experienced five major wars since 2008 in the context of an unlawful blockade imposed by Israel since 2007, which Albanese said has been widely condemned by the international community as collective punishment.

On 12 October, Israeli forces issued an order for 1.1 million Palestinians in north Gaza to move to the south within 24 hours, amidst ongoing airstrikes. The next day, Israeli forces reportedly began to enter Gaza in order to “clear” the area. Palestinians have no safe zone anywhere in Gaza, with Israel having imposed a “complete siege” on the tiny enclave, with water, food, fuel and electricity unlawfully cut off. Rafah, the only border crossing that remained partially open to the Gaza strip, was closed after damage caused by Israeli airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the long-term impact of the current conflict has started manifesting itself in changing Arab stance towards Israel.

Saudi Arabia is holding U.S.-backed plans to normalise ties with Israel on ice, sources familiar with Riyadh's thinking said, signalling a rapid rethinking of Saudi foreign policy priorities as war escalates between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas.

The conflict has brought the kingdom closer to Iran. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) took his first phone call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as Riyadh tries to prevent a broader surge in violence across the region.

Reuters report there would be a delay in the U.S.-backed talks on normalisation with Israel that was a key step for the kingdom to secure what Riyadh considers the real prize of a U.S. defence pact in exchange.

Other Arab nations and organisations like the UAE and OIC are making enough noises about the conflict but none seems to be taking any concrete step to get the conflict resolved, once and for all.

In addition, it also makes one wonder whether the Arab states are really interested in finding a resolution of the issue? Many of the Arab countries trying to find a solution to the conflict are themselves theocracies following dynastic rule, thus how could they be prepared to approve a democratic style government in Palestine, remains a moot question.

The issue has also brought forth some other worrying aspects of news reporting and narrative setting as part of the wider agenda setting.

As soon as the tragedy struck the region, various social media platforms were inundated with highly right-wing opinions, comments and most worrisome, posting unrelated earlier images as those related with the current conflict and acerbic comments through posts become the latest trend. In addition, the conflict also found other supporters of the Israeli regime in the shape of right-wing Hindutva supporters across the globe. Which apart from being galling is rather worrisome. Many of these social media activists do not know a single fact about the current conflict, its genesis or development through the years or events related to it, such as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Camp David Accord of 1978 and Oslo Accord of 1995. But their main target through these posts was the Indian minority, a connection which seems rather superfluous and unrelated but the manner in which narratives are set by the ruling BJP, this may impact the Indian politics in the long term.

What makes one wince is also the gross unprofessional attitude of the Indian electronic media, which followed the same steps mentioned above in a completely unprofessional manner and in addition started reporting from the conflict from a hotel room in Tel Aviv, showing their correspondents as being present on the spot. Thus, claiming to be an expert on the issue to the gullible viewers, who atkes anything from them as gospel.

It would not be wrong to say that that the current conflict has showed the real face of the failure of the American foreign policy seen through the prism of the Cold War, expose of Israel’s Iron Dome technology and poison-laden false narrative being promoted on social media platforms without any censorship, which these platforms exercise very vigorously against those who support the cause of the Palestinians.

(Asad Mirza is a Delhi-based senior political commentator on international, strategic and defence issues)

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