On the 7th of October 2023, the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, was escalated when Hamas launched more than 3,000 rockets into Israel, while Simultaneously, approximately 2,500 Hamas militants breached the Gaza–Israel barrier, attacking military bases and mercilessly slaughtering innocent civilians in bordering Israeli communities.
At least 1,400 Israelis were killed including 260 people who were killed at a music festival. Hamas then proceeded to take hostages, which included Israeli soldiers, and civilian men, women and children. The surprise attack was met with a fierce Israeli counteroffensive, and Israel declared war on Hamas a day later. After successfully pushing back Hamas forces from affected areas, Israel retaliated with airstrikes into Gaza Strip, killing more than 2,215 Palestinians as of the14th of October. It is unknown what percentage of Palestinian casualties were Hamas and what percentage were innocent Palestinian civilians.
The United Nations reported that around 423,000 Palestinians, more than a fifth of the population of Gaza, have been internally displaced. Fears of a humanitarian crisis were exacerbated after Israel cut off food, water, electricity, and fuel supplies to Gaza, which had already been blockaded by both Egypt and Israel. Israel then ordered the evacuation of 1.1 million Gazans while Hamas called on residents to remain in their homes. There have been numerous deaths of civilians, and many allegations against both Hamas and Israel of war crimes. Around the world, protests are occurring in many locations. Hate crimes of both antisemitic and Islamophobic nature have also increased on social media.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a long-standing and complex issue, fraught with tension, violence, and suffering on both sides. In the midst of this conflict, it is crucial to remember that not all Palestinians can be held accountable for the actions of Hamas, a militant group operating within Palestine. It is essential to distinguish between the actions of an extremist organisation like Hamas, and the aspirations, struggles, and rights of the Palestinian people as a whole.
The British ISIS terrorist known as El Shafee Elsheikh, was responsible for executing several people, including four Americans: James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. Did this make US class British citizens as terrorists, or prevent them from immigrating to their country? So why should Palestinian civilians be collateral damage in a war between Israel and Hamas?
The Complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply rooted in historical, political, and religious factors, making it a multifaceted issue with no easy solutions. It is vital to recognize that the Palestinian people, like any other population, are not a monolithic entity. They have diverse perspectives, aspirations, and experiences that cannot be reduced to the actions of a single terrorist group.
Hamas: A Distinct Entity
Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by many nations, including the United States and the European Union, has carried out numerous acts of violence against Israeli civilians. While it is crucial to condemn terrorism in all its forms, it is equally important to avoid painting an entire population with a broad brush based on the actions of a specific militant group. The actions of Hamas should not be conflated with the entire Palestinian population.
Collective Punishment and Its Consequences
Holding all Palestinians accountable for the actions of Hamas would result in collective punishment, which violates fundamental principles of justice and human rights. Such a generalization would perpetuate a cycle of resentment, deepen divisions, and hinder any prospects for peaceful resolution. It is essential to remember that the vast majority of Palestinians desire peace, stability, and a just resolution to the conflict.
The Plight of Innocent Palestinians
By attributing the actions of Hamas to all Palestinians, innocent individuals who have suffered as a result of the conflict are unfairly stigmatized and marginalized. The Palestinian people have endured decades of displacement, occupation, restrictions on movement, and economic hardships. Many Palestinians want to live in peace, raise their families, and rebuild their communities, free from the influence of extremism.
Promoting Dialogue and Understanding
To build a path towards peace and reconciliation, it is crucial to foster dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. Recognising the nuanced nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and acknowledging the aspirations and grievances of both sides can pave the way for a more just and sustainable solution. Engaging in constructive dialogue can help break down stereotypes, promote empathy, and create opportunities for cooperation and coexistence. Although, it should be noted that the US has tried to broker a peace deal between both parties but nothing ever came of it.
While it is essential to condemn acts of terrorism and hold extremist groups accountable, it is equally important to distinguish between the actions of Hamas and the aspirations of the Palestinian people as a whole. Painting all Palestinians with a broad brush based on the actions of a militant organization perpetuates unfair generalizations and undermines the prospects for peace. Recognizing the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and promoting dialogue and understanding are crucial steps towards a just and lasting resolution.