An Already worn-out Gaza was pounded by Israel in a three-week offensive, now a fragile ceasefire holds as the world watches and Gazans count their dead.
By SAAD AJMAL
It wasn’t the first time Israel has been at war with its neighbour the Palestinians and maybe
It won’t be the last either. It all started when a ceasefire between Israel and
Hamas ended, Hamas resumed rockets being fired into Israel, the result being fierce and unexpected, as Israel declared war on Hamas (as well the population of Gaza) which lasted over three weeks starting on 27 December. War and bloodshed is nothing new in the holy land of Jerusalem, since the creation of Israel in 1948 each side has battled with one another, each battle with its own cause, and what we recently witnessed within the media was of course horrific but it shows a Palestine (non-existing still) weak and fragile and in need of help. I was in Syria when the war broke out and the reaction there was not so much of shock but of awe despair. The Arab and Muslim world have seen Israel at war many times, either with them or most recently with Lebanon in 2006. The war in Gaza was yet again a show of Israel’s reaction in show of its apparent defence, but ironically most of the time no matter how much the Muslim and Arab world condemn and dislike Israel, they did nothing whatsoever while the women and children paid the price of a war they didn’t ask for. During the war, leaders of Arab states and some EU countries met in Kuwait in order to find a solution to the conflict, as with most meetings of this kind nothing significant came out of the summit, except they all had a chance to catch up on their own differences and King Abdullah of Saudi pledged $1 billion to rebuild Gaza, but we have seen before how money pledged has been torn up again by incoming rockets. All day, the Arabs also had to watch their own leaders pose in front of cameras in vain at the Arab summit, where the kings and presidents who assert to rule and protect them also smiled and shook hands and tried to pretend that they were unified behind a Palestinian people, who we all know have been deeply betrayed. Even Mahmoud Abbas was there, the defenceless, leader of "Palestine" – where is that exactly, one should ask? Repeatedly, Al-Jazeera television showed headlines onto their news reports of Palestinians carrying the decomposing corpses of their dead: "More than 1,300 dead in Gaza, 400 of them women and children – Israel’s dead in the war 13, three of them civilians." That says a lot.
One has to look at history to understand the present, and it is this which is lacking within the western Muslim society, many Muslims go to demonstrations and peace marches but do they actually know for whom and why they are marching? Hatred does not bring peace but compromise and dialogue. We should be asking ourselves in what ways we can help, run charity events or even if able to do so through a charity travel to the Palestinian territories to help in aiding those most in need.
The sad reality lies within our Muslim leaders and Kings within which no unity lies, even Egypt did not immediately open the Rafah crossing to let injured Palestinians through for treatment at the start of the war, where is the justification for that? Furthermore there are more differences within the Muslim world than ever before, as is evident in Iraq (Sunni and Shia) and Palestine (Hamas and Fatah). The new American government has assigned a peace envoy for The Middle East, George Mitchell who helped broker a peace deal in Northern Ireland, but a mammoth task lies ahead of him, keeping in mind The Middle East is not Northern Ireland but a land becoming more and more divided, complex and frustrated as each day passes. We have seen many peace attempts in the past one failing after another. The fate of the Palestinians now lies with the leaders of Israel and Palestine and the US of course which will try to lead the way as it has done before, and it won’t be long before somewhere within in the regions of the holy land screams of help will emerge from under the rubble, and the western world, again will smirk in contempt.
CONFLICT IN FIGURES
More than 1,300 Palestinians killed
Thirteen Israelis killed
More than 4,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza, more than 20,000 severely damaged
50,000 Gazans homeless and 400,000 without running water