Hamas vs. Israel - Double Standards on Terror
‘Israel Under Renewed Hamas Attack’ read the BBC headline last week, generating a huge national uproar to the biased reporting and consequently instigating protests and boycotts up and down the country. The use of partial terminology in the reporting of this issue is perpetual across news channels and platforms. Use of the term ‘war’ to describe the current episodes of violence and bloodshed; using it as a justification for defence begs the question: ‘Defence against what, exactly?’
To rival one of the most advanced and sophisticated armed forces in the world, equipped with the most superior defence weapons, against a population that has no air force, no navy, no heavy weapons or armour, not even an army, and call it a war, is preposterous. War implies symmetrical grounds of fighting between both parties. This is anything BUT war. This is genocide. This is a massacre. This is the systematic killing of innocent men, women and children perpetrated by a superpower Israeli force against Palestinian civilians as a form of collective punishment. The reality of what is taking place in Gaza is a stark contrast to the distorted reporting by mainstream media. Israel’s actions are anything but defensive – they are horrific acts of violence and oppression against the defenceless.
Killing is wrong, no matter whom the perpetrator and this is not a defence for Hamas to fire rockets into Israel, but the present situation in Gaza could not be further removed from equal and just warfare. The most densely-populated area in the world, with a population of 1.7 million on a 365 sq. km piece of land, drone attacks and carpet bombings in its residential areas, schools, refugee camps and places of worship are a daily norm. The theme of disproportionality that is inherent in media coverage and fighting is also apparent in the death toll. To date, over 200 Palestinians have lost their lives as a result of the Israeli attacks, 78% of whom were innocent civilians; meanwhile, Israel is yet to report a death by Hamas rockets. The latest victims in these senseless killings are the four young boys who were playing on Gaza beach, oblivious to the fact that in a few passing moments their short-lived existence would be tragically ended by an Israeli missile attack. Not under any circumstances can the carnage of innocent, unthreatening children be justified, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli – it is unequivocally immoral and unethical, regardless of any religious or political standpoint. The Israeli government, however, remain obstinate in their affirmation that they are defending themselves against the ‘terrorist organisation’ Hamas. This statement forces a further query: ‘Why is Hamas regarded as a ‘terrorist organisation’ yet the brutal attacks deployed by the state of Israel are merely ‘responsible’ mechanisms of ‘self-defence?’
Firstly, Hamas is a democratically elected political organisation, just as the Coalition government is in the United Kingdom. If the UK was to face a threat from an external terrorist organisation, no less would be expected of them but to take up all the necessary measures including, and not limited to, declaring war on that organisation in an effort to protect the country and its citizens. It is inequitable and hypocritical, therefore, to refer to Hamas as an institute of terror when it is simply defending and trying to protect its people and the land that rightfully belongs to, and was illegally taken from them.
Delving into the realms of history, it can be discerned how this conflict came into manifestation. It was the Holocaust of the 1930’s, under the Nazi regime of Hitler, that the Jewish community in Europe was compelled to seek refuge in other parts of the world, including Palestine. The ensuing years of the 20th century saw a consistent increase of illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the ever-populating Jewish people, thus depopulating the Palestinians through massacres, expulsion orders and fear tactics, rendering over 700,000 Palestinians as refugees in their own land. As a result, what can be seen today is prohibition of Palestinians from inhabiting or even entering Israeli settlements, which includes 40% of the West Bank.
Parallel to the unlawful pursuance of Israeli settlement, it could be argued is the incitement invoked by Palestinians against the Israeli state which are contributing to the worsening relations and distrust between the two nations. Talks of a ceasefire are rife amongst global leaders as they continue their proposals (pointlessly, some may argue), to be brokers for peace between the two nations. The most obvious solution which is yet to be suggested by the world’s frontrunners is: perhaps a ceasefire would be more than imminent if Israel considered terminating its illegal annexation of Palestinian land and allowed its people to live autonomously from Israeli oppression and control.
While references to Hamas being a terrorist organisation are being thrown about incessantly in the media, criticism of the apartheid system being imposed on the Palestinians by the state of Israel is, relatively scarce. What about the terror Israel is currently inflicting over Gaza? Why is the media not enlightening the public on the disgraceful state of lives of the Palestinians who have managed to survive the daily bombardment: the scarcity of food; the lack of clean water; the shortage of electricity; no fuel for transport; and minimal medical facilities? Why are non-Jewish citizens being denied their basic human rights? If any other country in the world employed such acts of systematic discrimination against a people, breaching innumerable international laws including codes of the Geneva Convention, the European Convention of Human Rights and UN resolutions, would the leaders of the international community still stand by in subservience?
In 2001, NATO and its allied forces deployed troops into Afghanistan in an effort to dismantle Al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power – both of whom the invading forces understood to be terrorist organisations – after they instigated violence and carried out massacres against Afghan civilians. In 2003, a combination of troops from the US, UK, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq in a mission that they declared was to disarm weapons of mass destruction and to end Saddam Hussein’s fascist regime against the Iraqi people. With regards to the conflict in Syria, both the US and UK have expressed their strong condemnation for the Syrian authorities use of chemical weapons – no-one, as it stands, has expressed any criticism of Israel’s use of chemical weapons in Gaza. It is inexplicable, that countries including the US and UK are not only indifferent concerning the inhuman treatment of Palestinian civilians at the hands of the Israeli forces, but they are complicit with the Israeli troops in committing the same crimes that they have previously invaded other countries to supposedly prevent. It is utterly outrageous how up until this point, Israel has not been summoned to an international court of law for its countless crimes against humanity. The world is, at present, literally allowing Israel to get away with murder. Such events force one to reconsider what is defined as terrorism and question who are the actual terrorists.