By Luis Verastique, WC Reporter
PALESTINE/ISRAEL (Western Courier) – In the midst of escalating violence and heartbreaking casualties, the Israel-Palestine conflict has once again captured the world’s attention. This deeply rooted and complex conflict has been marked by decades of oppression, territorial disputes, and acts of violence on both sides.
The Israel-Palestine conflict traces its origins back to the early 20th century, when tensions between Jewish Zionists and Palestinian Arabs began to escalate. The competing claims to the land, historically known as Palestine, have fueled a bitter dispute over territory and self-determination.
In 1947, the United Nations approved a partition plan that aimed to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arabic states. This decision led to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, triggering a mass exodus of Palestinians. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes, creating a refugee crisis that persists to this day.
Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, territories that were intended for the future Palestinian state. The Israeli government has since pursued a policy of settlement expansion, constructing Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, which is widely regarded as illegal under international law.
In recent years, the Israel-Palestine conflict has witnessed several waves of violence. The recent escalations, which began on October 7, 2023, have brought the conflict to a boiling point, with devastating consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The latest wave of violence was ignited when Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets into the Israel territory. In response, Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas militants and infrastructure.
The ongoing violence has inflicted a heavy toll on both sides, with innocent civilians bearing the brunt of the suffering. As of October 19, 2023, the Palestinian health ministry reported at least 3,785 Palestinians killed and over 12,493 injured in Gaza, while in the occupied West Bank, at least 75 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,300 injured. On the Israeli side, at least 1,403 people have been killed and over 4,629 injured.
Amidst the chaos, allegations of war crimes have emerged, raising serious concerns about the conduct of both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, has collected evidence suggesting that war crimes may have been committed, emphasizing the need for accountability and justice.
One aspect of the recent violence has been the deliberate targeting of civilians by both sides. Reports indicate that armed groups from Gaza have gunned down hundreds of civilians, a violation of international law. Additionally, there have been allegations of Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, which further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
The use of white phosphorus by Israeli forces has caused significant concern among human rights organizations. White phosphorus is a highly incendiary substance that inflicts severe burns and can lead to long-term health complications. Its use in densely populated areas raises questions about compliance with international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.
Israel’s announcement of a complete siege on Gaza, involving the withholding of water, food, electricity, and fuel, has raised alarm about the potential for collective punishment. Such measures, which undeniably cost civilian lives, have severe humanitarian consequences and may constitute war crimes. The depletion of essential resources further exacerbates the suffering of the Palestinian population, who already endure dire living conditions due to the long-standing Israeli blockade.
The international community has expressed varying degrees of support for Israel, with some countries unequivocally condemning the actions of Hamas while urging restraint on both sides. The White House, for instance, issued a statement affirming its support for Israel and acknowledging the evidence suggesting the commission of war crimes. The mounting casualties, including the deaths of innocent babies, women, and men, have generated widespread outrage and calls for justice.
Recognizing the profound impact of the Israel-Palestine conflict on the academic community, the president of Western Illinois University released a statement expressing condolences and emphasizing the importance of supporting individuals affected by the violence. The university stands ready to provide resources and support to students and staff who may be grappling with grief, anxiety, or other emotional challenges stemming from the ongoing crisis.
To achieve lasting peace, it is crucial to address the root causes of the conflict. Ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination are vital steps towards creating a just and sustainable solution. It is imperative for all parties involved to cease violence, adhere to international humanitarian law and human rights principles, and work towards a future where Israelis and Palestinians can coexist in peace and security.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is a tragic and complex issue that has inflicted suffering on both Israelis and Palestinians. The recent escalations have highlighted the need for accountability and justice, particularly in light of the potential war crimes committed. As the world grapples with the devastating consequences of this conflict, it is crucial for the international community to unite in advocating for peace, supporting those affected, and working towards a future where all individuals in the region can live in dignity, security, and harmony.