The Palestine That Was:
Once upon a time, there was no Palestine. No Israel. Not as independent states anyway. They called it the land that lay west of Jordan River. The British had imperial rule over what they called the “Mandatory Palestine”. Mandatory Palestine was home to both Jews and Arabs, albeit there was friction between their communities. Come 1947, and the UN Partition Plan paved a new path. The British withdrew; the Jews embraced the Partition Plan and declared Israel an independent State in 1948. The fiercely territorial Arabs, however, rose in protest. A Civil War commenced. And this marked the beginning of a bloody and war-ridden history between Palestine and Israel.
The 2014 Chapter:
Any weathered journalist can tell you that the Israel-Palestine conflict never gets old. The past six decades haven’t let it. There have been all sorts of locking of horns – border skirmishes, full-out rocket firing, air-strikes, ground invasion – you name it. And so, even if the 2014 Palestine-Israel conflict was undesirable, it came as no surprise. The comparatively inconsequential beginning to the gruesome and costly war that raged for 7 weeks and claimed more than 2,200 lives was thus:
Three Israeli teenagers went missing on the 12th of June.
And all fingers (in Israel that is) were pointed to Hamas, the predominantly military organisation that administered Gaza. But there was no proof to point to Hamas. Which didn’t stop Israel from launching search operations that resulted in more than five Palestinian deaths, 300 arrests and nearly a 1000 houses raided without warrant.
An agitated Hamas opened rocket fire, the Israelis countered with air strikes and from then on it was a downward spiral that coded death, destruction and sorrow. It lasted through June, spilled over into July, and just when it seemed things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did.
Mid-July witnessed an intensification of warfare as an Israeli Ground Invasion was unleashed to destroy all Gazan cross-border military tunnels. But by now, the alarming rate at which the Gazan death toll was mounting had begun to reverberate chillingly worldwide. Not only was the Palestinian defence a bleak story compared to Israel’s “Iron Dome of Defence”, but a concentrated Gazan population also made them easy targets.
The shocking bombing of the UN school harbouring over 3000 displaced Palestinians didn’t go unnoticed either. It was becoming evident that there was an undeniable indifference displayed by the Israeli Government when it came to civilian lives. The UN called for an investigation into Israeli war crimes and there was disapproval from all quarters of the world.
A Truce – At Long Last
August came and drew to a close, and finally it seemed like the warfare was going to abate. Egypt facilitated a long truce after several failed attempts. The world heaved a collective sigh of relief. But where was the relief for the Gazans? 2100 dead. Families torn apart. Settlements decimated.
As for the Israelis, there were less than 70 casualties, with 7 civilian ones. The life of an Israeli man is worth as much as that of a Palestinian. That is true for every human life and goes without saying. But the chasm in the destruction and damage caused hardly needs to be elaborated on. The question remains – are civilians to pay the price of a war with their lives?