Opinion Piece

Gaza Ground Realities

Ground Realities
By Mudassir Ayub, Research Associate, MUSLIM Institute
Israeli ground offensive operation in Gaza started on October 27. Israeli forces entered the city backed by air power and naval backup. As part of their ground operations, Israeli authorities are openly talking about the destruction of Gaza and the elimination of the Palestinians
Palestinians in Gaza are deprived of very basic needs of life like food, water, shelter health care etc. Hospitals are unable to treat the patients due to multiple shortages. The alarming thing is that hundreds of babies are in incubators and on life support in hospitals.1 The blocking of fundamental human necessities is leading Gaza into a catastrophic situation.2 Palestinians are forced to leave their homes in northern Gaza towards the south which clearly shows the Israeli intention to occupy northern Gaza.3

The air strikes and ground offensive by Israel have converted Gaza into the valley of death. In the past month over 10,569 people including more than 40% of children have been killed with Israeli bombings in Gaza, and far more are wounded. Apart from this, more than a million people have been displaced. The migration of people from their homes is very hard and traumatizing for them.
It is pertinent to mention here that the intensity of the Palestine issue is linked with global politics, especially in Western corridors of power. Its recent history describes the grave situation of human rights violations and atrocities being perpetrated upon Palestinians. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the US embassy shifted from Tel Aviv. Palestinians condemned the decision, and this move sparked a new wave of protests in Palestine. Israeli troops killed more than 170 protesters and staged a secret raid into Gaza. In May 2021 after weeks of tension in Jerusalem, Israeli police raided al-Aqsa Mosque, Hamas retaliated with thousands of rockets fired towards the city in response to Israel carrying out hundreds of airstrikes. In the fiercest fighting since 2014 to 2021, 200 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed. In Spring 2022 Israel launched “Break the Wave” military operation in the West Bank. Israeli forces killed 146 Palestinians in the West Bank; a death toll higher than any other year after 2005.
In the past month over 10,569 people including more than 40% of children have been killed with Israeli bombings in Gaza, and far more are wounded.
In January 2023, Israeli forces raided the Palestinian city of Jenin and killed 9 people in a shootout. In response to this Israeli barbarity, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people during prayer at an East Jerusalem synagogue. In the Summer of 2023, continuous skirmishes started between Hamas and Israeli forces. Israel undertook airstrikes with gunship helicopters across the Gaza Strip in response to the rockets fired by Hamas. In July Israel staged an air and ground attack with 1000 soldiers backed by drones in the name of a so-called “Extensive Counterterrorism Effort”.

Last month, in response to the surprise attack of Hamas, Netanyahu formally declared war on October 8. Israel first started airstrikes and killed more than 10,000 Palestinians including an attack on a hospital which resulted in the killing of about 400 Palestinians. The United States pledged its full support for the Israeli Ground Offensive.4
According to the report of the Security Council Commission established under resolution 446 (1979): "Between 1967 and May 1979, Israel has established altogether 133 settlements in the occupied territories, consisting of 79 in the West Bank, 29 in the Golan Heights, 7 in the Gaza Strip and 18 in the Sinai. Israel has established 33 new settlements since the adoption by the Security Council of its resolution 446 (1979), bringing the total number to 148. In addition, a number of the existing settlements have been expanded, sometimes to more than twice their original size. "Since the Government came to power in 1977, the number of settlers in the West Bank alone has risen from 3,200 to 17,400. These figures do not include the settlers in East Jerusalem, which by now number approximately 80,000."5
In connection with the acquisition of land, the Security Council Commission reported: "The extent of the land confiscated in the West Bank had increased from 27 per cent of the total area in May 1979 to 33.3 per cent in September 1980."6
According to figures by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, in 1947, Jewish possession of land in all of Palestine represented between 9 and 12 per cent of the cultivable land of the country, in 1977, of the total land surface of mandated Palestine, Arabs held 19 per cent and Israelis slightly more than 81 per cent.7
The United Nations General Assembly and Security Council have determined that the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories “Constitute a serious obstruction to efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East." 8
The major cause of the conflict was the ideological thrust of the Israelis to grab the land of Palestine and all illegal means were used to fulfil this purpose. At the start of the 20th-century Jewish population of Palestine was less than 5 percent. After 1920 the Jewish immigrants moved from Europe towards Palestine and the ratio rose over 30 per cent. During the time of the partition plan by the UN in 1947, the Jewish population owned 7 percent of the Land of Palestine and constituted of 55 percent of the population in the area designated for the new Jewish state.9
There are many Israeli tactics to change the demographics of the area including the forcible displacement of the Palestinian population and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population.10 Through these tactics, during 1947 and 1948, Israel systematically demolished 531 Palestinian villages in the area occupied by Israel. Before the outbreak of the first Arab-Israel war, over 200 of these villages were destroyed, and between 250,000 to 350,000 people were displaced before May 1948. Ultimately, over 750,000 Palestinians were displaced in 1948 as a result of different tactics including the war.
In 1967 Israel decided to occupy the West Bank and Gaza. For this purpose, they forcibly displaced Palestinians. These people’s rights to compensation and return were never fulfilled, and they and their descendants remain refugees today.11
According to the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions, since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 26,000 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied Palestinian territory.12 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between May 2012 and April 2013, 464 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished.
As a result, 402 people, including half children, were forcibly displaced. Administrative demolitions are 23 percent of all demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory.13 During the second Intifada, between 4,000 and 5,000 Palestinian homes were demolished in military operations which displaced as many as 50,000 people.14Between 2009 and 2023 the Israelis destroyed over 9,000 homes and left approximately 14,000 Palestinians homeless. More recently, the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip has internally displaced over 1.4 million Palestinians.15
The case of Palestine and Israel was submitted to the UN by the UK and the UN proposed the partition of Palestine into Palestine and Israel states and Jerusalem as UN-administered international territory. (Resolution 181 (II) of 1947). As Israel proclaimed its Independence in 1948 war involved Arab states, over half of the Palestinian Arab population fled or were expelled.16 Keeping in view the efforts of the United Nations and its supporting bodies including major international powers the situation of the Palestinian people is miserable and Israeli forces are committing genocide of the civilian people in the name of Ground Offence against Hamas. All UN resolutions and reports of special commissions condemned the Israeli illegal acts and affirmed the right of self-determination of the Palestinians.
It is reasonable to state that, given the actions of global powers and global institutions, the main reason why this situation cannot be resolved is that there is no agreement among them to oppose the oppressor. The deplorable state of the Palestinian people demonstrates that the global system offers no alternatives or mercy to those who are oppressed.

Regarding the Muslim world, though there are sane voices yet, there is no unanimity among them, and the role of OIC is not more than a pressure group.

H.E. Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), strongly condemns the continued and escalating Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip, persisting over twenty-three days in a row.

This relentless assault has resulted in butchering thousands of innocent civilians, including women, children, medical personnel and journalists, in addition to the deliberate destruction of buildings, hospitals, schools, places of worship, and United Nations facilities. 17 Though on a diplomatic level, there are statements by OIC and Muslim countries but those are not enough to resolve the conflict or stop the attacks and atrocities by Israelis upon Palestinians.

The international powers pretend to be defenders of liberal democracy, but their actions speak loudly otherwise, particularly when it comes to Palestine. The public demonstrations against Israeli atrocities describe the fears of rising mistrust among the public about such an international system. In addition, the double standards applied to the Palestine and Ukraine issues are much visible now. Human rights are abandoned in the race of personal interests.
  • The effective and practical involvement of international institutions like UNO and ICJ is necessary for peace in the region.
  • There should be proper and independent coverage of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and coverage of the protests against the atrocities in Gaza.
  • To manage Gaza's circumstances, the international rescue and rehabilitation teams should be given access to the area. In light of the preceding resolutions, pressure must be applied to Israel and its allies to recognize the seriousness of the situation and to convene for a peaceful resolution of the issue.
  • There is a dire need to put pressure on Israel by the Muslim world. Muslim countries having good relations with veto power countries should play their role in persuading the powers to play their due role in UNSC.
  • OIC should call an emergency meeting of the member states and pass the resolution for an immediate ceasefire. There should be a joint effort under the umbrella of OIC for rescue and rehabilitation activities.
  • In order to achieve the durable peace, the actual root causes of the issue need to be addressed. Israel has to vacate the grabbed land of Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque should be freed.
  • Muslim countries need effective media channels to represent the true narrative and actual cause of the issue, which is linked with Israeli intentions of occupying Palestinian land as much as possible and to occupy the holy mosque of Al-Aqsa.
  1. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/dire-humanitarian-crisis-in-gaza-innocent-people-on-brink-us-bernie-sanders/3041564
  2. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israel-keeps-blocking-power-water-food-to-gaza-interior-ministry/3037404
  3. https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/11/2/a-genocide-is-under-way-in-palestine
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/israel-palestine-conflict-timeline-history-explained/
  5. Report of the Security Council commission established under resolution 446 (1979), document S/14268 of 25 November 1980, p. 31.
  6. Report of the Security Council Commission established under resolution 446 (1979), document S/14268 of 25 November 1980, p. 32.
  7. John Ruedy, Professor of History at Georgetown University, "Israeli land acquisition in occupied territory, 1967-1977", United States Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization (Committee on the Judiciary), Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, 17 October 1977, pp. 124, 127.
  8. http://www.icahd.org/sites/default/files/Demolishing%20Homes%20Demolishing%20Peace_1.pdf
  9. https://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Maps/Story574.html
  10. http://www.imeu.net/news/article0023923.shtml
  11. http://imeu.net/news/article0023923.shtml
  12. https://icahd.org/sites/default/files/Demolishing%20Homes%20Demolishing%20Peace_1.pdf
  13. https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/forced-displacement-palestine-and-israel
  14. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/10/17/razing-rafah-0
  15. https://thewire.in/world/trapped-in-indefinite-exile-the-history-of-palestinian-refugees-over-last-seven-decades#:~:text=The%20principal%20event%20in%20modern,of%20the%20state%20of%20Israel.
  16. https://www.un.org/unispal/history/
  17. https://www.oic-oci.org/topic/?t_id=39819&t_ref=26720&lan=en


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