Palestinian Lives Matter – Senator Sehar Kamran

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Once again, Palestine is burning. As the world continues to overlook Israeli aggression, over 100 Palestinians including children have been killed by airstrikes carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza.

This violence did not take place out of the blue. Tensions had been simmering for some time now. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were agitated due to the restrictions imposed on them from entering into the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is the third holiest site for Muslims, during the holy month of Ramadan. To add fuel to the fire, Israeli forces desecrated Al-Aqsa mosque and injured hundreds of unarmed worshippers.

The final nail in the coffin proved to be forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah located in East Jerusalem, which escalated matters and resulted into an exchange of heavy gunfire between Hamas and Israel.

There is absolutely no justification for the latest bout of violence initiated by Israeli forces against Palestinians especially in the Gaza strip. International observers have cautioned that if de-escalation in tensions does not occur, then it can lead to a full-blown war and will have a devastating impact on the region.

It is unfortunate that major powers of the world have collectively held their silence over Israeli atrocities over the decades, while innocent Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza have continued to suffer.

It is unfortunate that major powers of the world have collectively held their silence over Israeli atrocities over the decades, while innocent Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza have continued to suffer.

Sehar Kamran

The US has led this movement of apathy and indifference toward the Palestinian’s right to self-determination and self-defense for decades now. Time and again, Washington has shielded Israel’s defiance of international law in the United Nations Security Council, which has only emboldened Tel Aviv to flout the norms of international humanitarian law. To put it into perspective, from 1972-2017, the US has vetoed 43 times in favor of Israel in the UNSC, which is the most veto used by any state in favor of another state. Even today, the US is delaying UNSC efforts to issue a public statement on escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians on the pretext that it ‘could be harmful to behind-the-scenes efforts to end the violence.’

While the White House spokeswoman was quick to condemn ‘attacks on Israel,’ the US State Department spokesperson couldn’t even condemn the killing of Palestinian children during a press conference. The US administration over the decades has only spoken about the Israeli right to self-defense against rocket attacks, but nobody is ready to answer the question regarding Palestinian rights against unilateral Israeli aggression.

It is important to note that the members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an urgent meeting at the United Nations on May 11, and unanimously endorsed Pakistan’s proposal for issuing a joint statement deploring Israeli actions against Palestinians.

The OIC also approved a proposal to “mobilize international support to convene a special session of the General Assembly on the situation.” This suggestion was pitched by the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Undoubtedly, the world is fatigued owing to the pandemic, but it cannot ignore its responsibility to help establish long lasting peace in the world especially in the Middle East. The Palestine-Israel dispute has all the elements to trigger a full-blown war which can further spread into different regions of the world. It is significant that Palestinian anguish is heard and addressed through proper channels or this fire which is threatening to torch Gaza will sooner or later engulf the entire world.

Social media giants also have a responsibility in this regard. Different social media platforms have been censoring posts and tweets highlighting barbaric actions of Israeli forces. Tech companies have blamed “technical errors” for deleting posts which have mentioned the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. The data rights group have labelled these actions as ‘discriminatory’.

False equivalence created by Western media houses tends to put powerful Israeli forces and their state-of-the-art weapons with rockets by Hamas which are more or less intercepted by the Israeli dome system, on the same pedestal. It must not be forgotten that Israel is the oppressor state and Palestinians are the ones being oppressed, and only this narrative should be carried forward.

It is also important to note that mere condemnation messages against the brutality of the Israeli regime won’t make a difference. Result-oriented actions need to be taken, especially by Muslim countries. The protection of the third holiest site of Muslims is the responsibility of all Muslims across the world– not just the Muslims living in East Jerusalem. Israel should be held accountable for flouting international law and defying human rights. Palestinian lives also matter.