Israeli citizens will benefit as much as Palestinians if a just and peaceful solution can be found.
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The first swap of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners has been completed yesterday. The day prior to the swap was the American Holiday Thanksgiving. There are certainly Israeli and Palestinian families who are giving thanks to God for their loved ones’ freedom.
The western media focused on the older Israeli women and small children being released. According to Israeli doctors, they were in acceptable condition after their ordeal in captivity.
However, there was almost no western coverage of the Palestinian women and children released from an Israeli prison. Western audiences would have to first understand that Israel arrests young children for throwing a rock at an Israeli soldier. This information might make a western viewer appalled and disgusted with Israel. Since the western media wants to portray the Israelis as a democracy, with shared values with the West, brutal undemocratic Israeli policies are just glossed-over.
“The main alleged crime for these detentions is stone-throwing, which can carry a 20-year sentence in prison for Palestinian children,” said a report published in July by children’s rights organization, Save the Children.
U.S. President Joe Biden made a short statement at the time of the release, in which he said it was his unproven theory that Hamas timed their attack on Israel because they wanted to stop the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which Biden had been pushing for. Biden was putting Saudi Arabia in a very dangerous position, as perhaps being the cause of the October 7 attack, and ensuing bloodshed and destruction.
President Donald Trump had begun the Abraham Accords process which saw UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan sign a normalization agreement with Israel. Saudi Arabia was the prize that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was chasing, but the current war has put that on hold. These Arab countries have not suddenly found a friend in Israel, but they can benefit from a relationship with Israel, which has nothing to do with technology, trade or tourism. By being in an improved relationship with Israel, the Arab countries would have access to improved relations with the U.S. Congress, through AIPAC. The American-Israeli lobby group AIPAC is the reason Arab leaders would be willing to ignore Palestinian human rights.
Hamas caught the attention of the world on October 7 with a shocking attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers which killed 1,400 and about 240 were taken hostage into Gaza.
The Israeli media painted the Hamas attack as an attempt to exterminate the Jewish people. While Hamas does not recognize the right for Israel to exist, the group issued a statement early on explaining they were not seeking to annihilate Israel, but fighting a war of resistance against Israeli occupation.
The Geneva Convention guarantees the right for armed struggle against occupation, but prohibits targeting civilians.
Yesterday, the world was focused on the swap, with governments, international organizations and media involved in the delicate and well executed project. Hamas had the spot-light. To explain their motives in the attack is not to justify them. A problem that has existed for over 70 years has never been dealt with or focused on, even though it has global implications.
Hamas was successful in getting the brutal occupation of the West Bank, and the siege of Gaza which began in 2007, and has kept 2 million people in an open-air prison, into the international spotlight. People in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, South America, Australia, Asia and the Middle East, including in Israel, have taken to the streets in the millions to protest the Israeli attacks on Gaza which have left at least 12,000 dead, thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands homeless. Especially shocking is the number of children killed by Israeli airstrikes, which number about half of the dead.
The people of the world were seeing the images of death and destruction on social media and televised media. They rose-up in protest of the injustice of collective punishment on a civilian population who are innocent of any crime, and are themselves the victims, as were the Israeli victims of October 7.
However, the international community, who are the leaders of U.S. allied countries, were very slow to call for Israel to stop killing Palestinians indiscriminately. The first week of the conflict, those western democratic leaders kept chanting the mantra taught to them by Washington, DC., that ‘Israel has the right to defend itself’.
Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has stated that Israel does not meet the conditions of self-defense in its military operation in Gaza.
“The right to self-defense can be invoked when the state is threatened by another state. Israel cannot claim the right of self-defense against a threat that emanates from a territory it occupies — from a territory kept under belligerent occupation.”
At the end of Biden’s statement yesterday, he called for a final solution to the conflict, the two-state solution, which has been a U.S. policy for decades, and refers to a UN resolution that has gathered dust.
Experts point out the two-state solution is impossible because the extremist Israeli government under Netanyahu is opposed to the plan. The other obstacle are the illegal Jewish settlements which have eaten up Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank.
Biden and his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Qatar, Turkey, the EU, the UK, Spain and others have also stated that the two-state solution must be pursued after the current conflict is over.
Will the final just and comprehensive settlement restoring the rights of the Palestinian people be possible? Will the Hamas attack on Israel be seen as the beginning of the process that mobilized the international community to pressure Israel to negotiate for peace? Or, will we see another, and another resistance operation be carried out, perhaps next in the West Bank?
There is no defense of occupation. Israelis have become weary of being in a constant state of uncertainty, never knowing when a resistance attack will take place. They have also become angry with their leaders for security lapses and many other issues. Israeli citizens will benefit as much as Palestinians if a just and peaceful solution can be found.