The recent happenings in the Israel-Gaza conflict have shown that the oppressed, when given enough time and power, always tend to become the oppressor.
According to the United Nations, approximately 75 percent of the nearly 1,900 people killed in Gaza have been civilians. Conversely, 67 Israelis have been killed and of that number, less than 5 percent were civilians. This statistic illustrates the gross disregard for Palestinian life that many in the current right-wing Israeli government seem to have.
The Israeli government argues that these are not indiscriminate killings or attacks. I argue they are correct—these are in fact discriminate murders of civilians. Gaza is only 139 square miles. To put that in perspective, Austin is 272 square miles, almost two times as large with less than half the population of Gaza. It goes against protocol to bomb such confined and densely populated civilian areas. They are choosing to murder children, women and men in order to force Gaza and Hamas into submission.
If a bank robber has a gun pointing to the head of a hostage, police officials do not open fire on the bank robber. They have the capacity to quell the threat with great ease but will not do so at the loss of an innocent life. Why? Simple. The police officers are better than the robber. They have taken an oath to uphold justice and peace, not to provoke fear and death.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy, a harbinger of liberty and life. They are supposed to be better than Hamas, a known terrorist organization, yet in this recent conflict they have shown to be no better than the very people they wish to demonize.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once defined terrorism as the deliberate and systematic murder and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends. His statement is ironic considering that under his administration, the Israeli government has been the very definition of terrorists in this recent conflict in Gaza. Israeli forces shelled a U.N. school housing evacuees after being warned 17 times by the UN to not bomb the school. They did it anyway. Days later, Israeli forces shelled another U.N. school in Rafah housing more evacuees after being warned 33 times by the UN not to bomb the school. They did it anyway, again.
Some have accused Hamas of holding rockets in these facilities, but according to U.N. spokesperson Christopher Gunness, there was neither evidence of rockets nor evidence of militants in the specific schools that were shelled. Israel’s actions violate international law, and they should be held accountable and reprimanded for their war crimes in Gaza.
The current right-wing Israeli government headed by Netanyahu claims to want peace for the region. However, according to Likud’s charter, the political party of which Netanyahu is a member, the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River will always be rejected. This is not a government seeking peace in the region or compromise, only dominance.
Gaza, as part of the Palestinian state, should be free to self-determination. Although Israeli officials report that the occupation of Gaza ended in 2005, that is demonstrably untrue. To this day, Israel maintains control and occupation of Gaza as defined by Article 47 of the Hague Regulations. Israel controls Gaza’s air space, electromagnetic sphere, registry, water supply, electricity, fuel, territorial waters and the movement of people and goods in and out of the region. Palestinians are prisoners in their own home, not free to move without the consent of Israel.
There are many things that can be said against Hamas. I am not defending their radical actions. I simply hold Israel, as a democracy that espouses egalitarianism, to a higher standard. the people of Israel have made a state identity nigh essential to their progression through adversity. However, they must not become what they have been continually fighting against.