Palestine’s plight

Published June 17, 2024

AS pilgrims wrap up the Haj rituals, and other Muslims celebrate Eidul Azha, the continuing massacre in Gaza demands that believers across the world — in fact, all people of conscience — remember the brutalised inhabitants of Palestine in these times of festivity.

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors. For Gaza’s orphans, this would have been a depressing Eid like no other. On Saturday, at the climax of Haj, the Saudi cleric delivering the khutba in Arafat did manage to make a mention of Palestine, asking Muslims to “pray for our brothers and sisters in Palestine who have been afflicted with harm”. For the faithful, prayers are, of course, essential; yet the Muslim world has done little else to help end the atrocious Israeli campaign of death in Gaza.

The Muslim world is not without agency. A number of Muslim countries have fabulous wealth, thanks to their hydrocarbon deposits, while others have standing armies respected around the world. Yet none of this economic and geopolitical clout has been used to end the eight-month-old slaughter in Gaza. The OIC has issued statements laden with strong adjectives, as has the Arab League. But other than that, the Muslim world’s response to the Palestine crisis has been marked by feebleness.

The masses in various Muslim-majority states, as well as populations in non-Muslim countries, may have boycotted brands perceived to be sympathetic to Israel, but little else of consequence has been done in the lands of Islam.

Iran and its allied armed groups have targeted Israel, but these actions have had limited effect in ending the Gaza massacre, though skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah threaten to expand into a full-blown war. When the history of this horrific conflict is written, it is the role of countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Colombia that will be remembered with respect; these states — in the spirit of humanity — confronted Israel and expressed exemplary solidarity with Palestine.

Tel Aviv is not interested in a ceasefire, nor will lukewarm resolutions make it stop its blood-soaked campaign. Concrete steps are needed, such as an arms embargo and trade blockade. Along with praying for Palestine, Muslim states must take more worldly actions to restrain Israel.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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