HomeCommentaryUnderstanding the Israel-Palestine conflict: Rationale for solidarity

Understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict: Rationale for solidarity

The currently raging Israel-Palestine war in Gaza and neighboring towns has perturbed not just the affected communities but also the world.

It has caused a tremor in the geopolitical scene, with Israel receiving strong support from superpowers like the United States (US) and the United Kingdom.

Other major powers such as China, on the other hand, have been much more calibrated and called for de-escalation while avoiding condemnation of the Palestinian assertion of their right to self-determination.

Palestine’s struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation has in any case been met with vigorous support from people’s organizations throughout the world.

As bits and pieces of information – and disinformation and misinformation – circulate in media and social media, factual analysis must prevail in regards to the conflict; and why must we, as freedom and peace-loving Filipinos, support the Palestinian cause.

Last October 6, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise tactical offensive against the 16-year-running Israeli blockade on them – arguably their boldest since they were formed 46 years ago in 1987.

Outwardly caught unawares despite their vaunted intelligence services, the Israeli government immediately retaliated with huge military strikes and a brazenly illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli siege included cutting supplies of food, water, power, and other essentials to the civilian population of Gaza.

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The Hamas offensive though is not unprovoked but is rooted in Israel’s long-running brutal attacks, ethnic cleansing, and occupation of Palestine that began over 100 years ago and the Palestinian people’s fight for liberation.

In 1917, through a letter known as the Balfour Declaration, the British government pledged to the Zionist movement that it would facilitate the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine which was under British occupation at the time. 

As part of ensuring this, a British Mandate was then created and lasted from 1923-1948, during which Britain expedited the mass Jewish immigration to Palestine – many of them escaping from the Nazis in Europe.

The British seized the lands of Palestinian Arabs who made up 90% of the population back then and gave these to the Jewish settlers.

Tensions rose and eventually led to a 3-year Arab revolt that was violently subdued by British forces.

To make matters worse, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (Partition Resolution) in 1947 which divided Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Palestinians who at the time owned 94 percent of historic Palestine and made up 67 percent of its population were against the resolution because it gave 56 percent of the land – mostly fertile coastal areas – to the Jewish state.

This did not fare well, as the Jewish community in Palestine considered the resolution a legal basis to establish Israel. Israel declared independence in May 1948 and violence erupted, dispossessing and displacing around 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and land.

Further armed conflicts ensued after this, with Israeli forces launching military assaults and ethnic cleansings that paved the way for the confiscation of larger portions of land until only the West Bank and Gaza Strip were left to the Palestinians.

The military attacks continue until today, mainly from Israel to ensure its economic and political hold on the land.

For the past 16 years, Israel has also imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on the small, overcrowded Gaza enclave.

Over two million Palestinians have been trapped in what has been called the world’s biggest “open-air prison” or even “concentration camp” since 2007.

They have extremely limited or no access to food, livelihoods, housing, and other desperately needed goods and services.

The blockade has gravely worsened Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, where most of the people are forced to live in extreme or catastrophic conditions.

Throughout this war, the Palestinian people have bravely waged revolts, armed resistance, and protests against the Israeli occupation and for liberation.

But the armed conflict has resulted in thousands of casualties – the majority of Palestinians including civilians have borne the brunt due to the Israeli government’s brutal military assaults and blockade.

From 2008 to September 19, 2023, there have been 6,407 Palestinian fatalities and 152,560 injuries, while there have been 308 Israeli fatalities and 6,307 injuries, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

Backing the Israeli state and its occupation of Palestine is the US government which is its biggest military funder.

Al Jazeera reports that the US, which provides some US$3.8 billion annually in military aid to Israel, has moved quickly to support the Israeli military counteroffensive.

Supplies of additional ammunition and air defense interceptors have already arrived. It is also moving carrier strike groups to the region and sending more aircraft to US bases there.

As it is, Israel is already the biggest recipient of US military assistance in the last 80 years.

This is because the American superpower’s relations with Israel provide it with the necessary influence, and economic, and political power in the Middle East.

Given these conditions, it is clear that the Israeli state, the Zionist movement, and Imperialism led by the US are the main enemies and oppressors of the Palestinian people.

Thus, the Palestinian people, who have been there since time immemorial, deserve the right to freedom, self-determination, land, and a just and long-lasting peace.

And they are achieving these by liberating themselves from the shackles of fascism, exploitation, and oppression that have devastated them for decades.

Thus, we Filipinos should stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination and liberation from the US-backed Israeli military occupation.

This is because the Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only. Their eventual liberation will not only be a victory for the Palestinian people but for all exploited and oppressed peoples of the world.

It will also be a blow to one of the many strongholds controlled by the Imperialist powers. This can serve as a source of inspiration to other people’s and liberation movements and can help invigorate and heighten their own resistance and struggles in the arena of politics, the military, and the economy.

As part of the Filipino mass movement, we persist in calling for the end of exploitation around the world, and the fight of the masses of other countries for their self-determination.

In the case of Palestine, we share in their aspirations and pledge support for their victory against their oppressors.

We believe that each citizen of the world — from Palestine to the Philippines — deserves conditions that enable them to live the best quality of life and the preservation of it, for the progress of the world and the elimination of poverty, injustice, and suffering.

From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free!

This article was first published in the Ibon Foundation’s Bird Feed, which features the thoughts and views of its staff on socioeconomic and other issues. All of its staff are encouraged to share their own analysis.

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