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Beyond October 7: Israel’s War on Palestine and the Dilemma of United Nations

Defying all the laws and international institutions including the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, Israel has a clear aim of ethnic cleansing and complete occupation of Palestine. Every time Israel kills a person, the relevance of all the custodians of human rights becomes questionable

Photo Credit: REUTERS

“The Security Council just approved a long-awaited resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. This resolution must be implemented. Failure would be unforgivable.” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres after the long-awaited resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council on 25th March[1]. It took the World United Forum 32,333 killings[2] of Palestinians and more than five months just to pass a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution passed calling for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire.  It was expected that the world would pressure Israel to reach a deal to stop Genocide in the holy month of Ramadan but Israel without paying any heed to any such concerns continued with its plan of attacking everyone including Children and Women by air strikes, ground invasion and by starving them to death that is by every means possible.

What led up to October 7

October 7 is said to be the reason for what is happening between Israel and Palestine however, the true inquiry lies in understanding why October 7th transpired, a question whose answer is found in the extensive history of Zionist occupation of Palestine spanning over a century. Though the United Nations moved a resolution to propose a part of Palestine as a home for Jewish people in 1947[3] but Balfour Declaration of 1917 had a central role to play in the occupation. It was a public pledge by Britain declaring its aim to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The pledge was followed by the facilitation of the immigration of European Jews to Palestine which resulted in the rise of the Jewish population from nine percent to nearly twenty-seven percent between 1922 and 1935.[4]

United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 181 partitioned Palestine, according to which fifty-five percent of Palestine was given to the Jewish population which owned only Six percent at that time.[5] This unjust plan was considered an international betrayal and was outrightly rejected by Palestinians and all Arab Nations. Subsequently, in May 1948, Israel announced its establishment on the debris and dead bodies of thousands of Palestinians. During Nakba 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and more than 70 massacres were carried out against innocent civilians, killing more than 15 thousand Palestinians[6]. Furthermore, around 7.5 lakh Palestinians were expelled from their homes and 78 percent of historic Palestine was occupied by the Zionist Military.[7] According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the number of Palestinians has increased to more than 5 million who are living throughout the Middle East.[8]

Israel accepted the UN partition plan but to date, it continues to occupy whatever is left with Palestinians. In recent years as well Israel has launched many offensive military assaults on Gaza, particularly in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021 which resulted in thousands of killings including many children, and the destruction of thousands of homes, hospitals, and educational institutes. The unholy declaration in 1917 followed by international betrayal initiated an unending apartheid catastrophe on the people of Palestine. It’s essential to highlight that despite the aggression from Israel, backed by powerful nations, Palestinians never gave up; instead, they steadfastly resisted. The noteworthy Intifadas of 1987 and 2000 serve as poignant reminders of their resilience. Having mentioned the interconnected events dependent on each other, it’s imperative to recognize that October 7 wasn’t an isolated incident but rather an unexpected yet consequential addition to this chain of events.

October 7 and the War on Palestine

On October 7 Hamas launched a land, sea, and air attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip resulting in more than 1,200 deaths including Israeli citizens, more than 240 people were also taken hostage. This was one of the most deadly attacks Israel has ever faced. As per the statement issued by Hamas, this operation targeted the Israeli military sites and sought to arrest the enemy’s soldiers to pressure the Israeli authorities to release the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails through a prisoner exchange deal.[9]

Soon after this attack, Israel started an aggressive assault on Gaza, targeting everything and everyone indiscriminately. On October 8 Israel declared war against Palestine and forced 80% of the people of Gaza City to move to the southern region but then bombed areas and routes that were declared safe. [10] Israel has been violating every humanitarian law, it has blocked food, water, electricity, and fuel so the people of Gaza are killed in maximum numbers by all means. Furthermore, Israel has systematically destroyed all hospitals in Gaza so wounded could not get any treatment, in a recent attack, Israeli forces raided Al Shifa hospital and when they left after a week, there was no life left in the hospital, hundreds of dead bodies were recovered from within and from its compound. Israel has not only targeted colonies and high buildings rather every structure that could have been a livable place for the displaced public or was a source of any facility, as per UNICEF more than half of Gaza’s children (620,000) are unable to attend school due to the destruction wrought by six months of the war on the enclave’s education system, every 8 out 10 Schools are destroyed.

Israel has blocked every possible transport connectivity in Gaza while bombing continued from the ground and air to enforce famine. It has not only cut Gaza from the rest of the world to stop every possible help rather has also tried to block information flow as well so that its war crimes go unnoticed and unanswered. As per Reporters Without Borders (RSF) more than one hundred journalists have been killed so far by Israel in Gaza. Israel has also been trying to disinform the world about what has been happening in Gaza though an investigation has debunked most of its claims. The extent of propaganda is been implemented to such an extent that even the President of the United States had expressed his anger over the news of forty beheaded babies. This false narrative was fabricated to vilify resistance forces and bolster support for Israel, despite its documented perpetration of numerous war crimes against the people of Gaza, including women and children. As of 5th of April 2024, 33,550 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza[11]  and as per United Nations Women, 70% of those killed are women and children[12]

The Question of Palestine and the United Nations

On the war crimes of Israel, unprecedented protests erupted all over the globe calling unanimously to end these attacks. Still, despite such constant demonstrations, Israel remained adamant because of the fact the rulers of the relevant countries opted to remain mute spectators. In contrast, the United States shamelessly stood by Israel in the whole genocide process in the name of the ‘right to self-defense’ against the people who are starving to death. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says at least 31 children have died from starvation and dehydration.

However, the United Nations which reads as a place where all the world’s nations can gather together to find shared solutions, has a history of passing resolutions against Israel since 1948 but not a single time Israel binds itself to any of the passed resolutions. The resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly are not binding on the member states. Whereas the resolutions moved in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Israel which have binding effect in accordance with Article 25 of the UN charter, get vetoed most of the time by the United States. As per UN data, the United States has vetoed more than 55 resolutions since 1972[13] providing complete impunity to Israel for its all crimes.

In the recently passed resolution, the UNSC has demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza but Israel refused to obey this resolution as well and continued to target civilians including those who are in refugee camps, Schools, and hospitals are those who come to collect aid. It is pertinent to mention that the resolution was passed on 25th March and on the very next day the Israeli military bombed several places including a house in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza, killing dozens. The passed resolution also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain.

South Africa in International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the highest judicial body of the United Nations to resolve issues between State parties. On 29 December 2023, South Africa courageously approached ICJ as a State Party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide also known as the Genocide Convention to seek an order to prevent Israel from committing genocide against the Palestinian people. Arguing against Israel, South Africa defended its case very strongly by providing evidence on how thousands of civilians were intentionally killed and bodily and mentally harmed who couldn’t get treatment because Israel had systematically collapsed the health system of Gaza. Worthy to note Adila Hassem, representing South Africa also emphasized the fact that Israel ordered blocking of every sort of aid with the probable intent of execution of Genocide.

The International Court of Justice heard Israel and gave its initial verdict on 26th January 2024. Though it has not yet decided whether genocide is committed or not it has ordered Israel to make sure to take all measures within its power to prevent any act of genocide by its army. This verdict of ICJ is final and cannot be appealed but it has no mechanism to implement its order. Israel knew it thus continued committing all war crimes it could violating almost every provision of the Genocide Convention. From the date of the verdict, Israel has massacred more than seven thousand people including aid workers, doctors, and journalists, and destroyed several hospitals and institutions.

Israel: A Threat to United Nations

Defying all the laws and international institutions including the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, Israel has a clear aim of ethnic cleansing and complete occupation of Palestine. Every time Israel kills a person, the relevance of all the custodians of human rights becomes questionable. It is not only the death of thirty-three thousand human beings but also the failure of institutions like the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic  Cooperation. These institutions could have done better to prevent the genocide and at least now they should take real action to make an impact on the ground. The people across the globe need to make sure they create pressure on their rulers and on international institutions to stand by the people of Palestine to prevent the world from further violence. If Israel continues violating resolutions and conventions of the United Nations, the hope of people in the UN would die and its ability to uphold international law and promotion of peace would become doubtful. The UN risks losing its credibility as a meaningful force for justice and diplomacy, relegating it to a mere platform for dialogue with diminished real-world impact.

Hope For A New Dawn

Palestine, though facing this cruel apartheid alone, has not submitted before the oppression of Zionists, they continue to resist in the face of the most unethical but rich military. Their houses are destroyed but they remain undeterred, their mosques are razed down but not their faith. They are the most oppressed but not the hopeless. The courageous people of Palestine are determined for a new dawn, free from all shackles as Mahmoud Darwesh once said:

We will write our names with Scarlet Steam.

We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.

We will die here, here in the last passage.

Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree.

[1] Resolution, United Nations Security Council, S/RES/2728 (2024)

[2] https://aje.io/9fzdtl

[3] Resolution 181 (II) of 1947, United Nations

[4] https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2018/11/2/more-than-a-century-on-the-balfour-declaration-explained

[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/9/whats-the-israel-palestine-conflict-about-a-simple-guide

[6] Dr. Ola Awad, The Nakba: Ethnic cleansing, displacement of Palestinians and settler colonialism, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2020

[7] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/15/nakba-mapping-palestinian-villages-destroyed-by-israel-in-1948

[8] About the Nakba, United Nations, 2023

[9] Our Narrative, Operation Aqsa Flood, Hamas Media Office

[10] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20231204-israel-orders-more-palestinians-to-flee-then-bombs-areas-where-it-sends-them/

[11] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker


[13] https://www.un.org/depts/dhl/resguide/scact_veto_table_en.htm