ONCE more, Palestine is bathed in blood, its people left to mourn and carry the tiny coffins of its children. While some would classify the current violence as a ‘conflict’ between Israelis and Palestinians, it is more of a one-sided assault on the Palestinian people by Tel Aviv’s war machine.

Months, if not years, of Palestinian anger had been brewing, with Israel shamelessly grabbing the Arabs’ land and humiliating them repeatedly. The pressure cooker exploded when Jewish settlers staged provocative marches in occupied East Jerusalem, started encroaching upon Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of the holy city, and finally, when Israeli troops stormed and desecrated the revered Al Aqsa mosque. In response, Palestinians took to the streets across the country, while Hamas, which rules Gaza, started firing rockets at Israel. Tel Aviv’s response has been a merciless bombardment of the coastal strip in which over 180 people have been killed, 55 of them children. In the midst of this slaughter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to “continue to respond forcefully”.

Read: Israel must stop attacks, evictions, UNSC members say

And what has been the global response to this latest outrage? At the governmental level, there has been mostly silence, or half-hearted appeals to stop the ‘violence’. However, thousands of conscientious people across the world, including in Europe and the Americas, have taken to the streets to denounce Israel’s ruthless barrage. Meanwhile, the self-declared champions of human rights keep trumpeting their view that Israel has a right to ‘self-defence’. This includes the Biden administration and many in Europe. In fact, Austria had raised the Israeli banner ‘in solidarity’.

One wonders whether the right of self-defence allows a country to butcher toddlers and the disabled, as Tel Aviv has done in Gaza. Moreover, Israel on Saturday bombed a Gaza building housing the offices of Al Jazeera, the Associated Press and other media outlets, an act the UN secretary general says “violates international law”. Clearly, Israel is trying to prevent the world media from reporting on its crimes, hence the direct targeting of bureaux under the guise of hitting back at Hamas.

And what of the Muslim world? It is evident that the collective consciousness of the vast majority of Arab and Muslim states died a long time ago. As Palestinians bravely face Israeli terror, the OIC and Arab League are doing little other than issuing statements. Those Arab states that only recently made public their relationship with Israel have done little to convince their friends in Tel Aviv to stop their butchery. The targeting of civilians anywhere is unacceptable. But Israel has been murdering non-combatants for decades, and getting away with it thanks to its powerful patrons. Will the international community step in to stop this mass murder? Or do Palestinians, including their children, not count when the high and mighty wax eloquent about human rights and the rule of law?

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2021

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