Palestine Matters

The attack on October 07 washed away the Abraham Accords and catapulted Palestine back on centre stage.

By Atif Shamim Syed | November 2023

One fine morning, several Hamas operatives based in Gaza barged into Israel through land, sea and air, killed hundreds of Israelis, abducted another few hundred, and went back singing. At least, this is what the Western media will have you believe. They will also hammer in the fact that, being a peace-loving democratic country, Israel has the right to defend itself.

There will be no mention of decades of violence perpetrated against more than 2 million people of Gaza, who are crammed into a tiny piece of land covering around 141 square miles. They will also overlook the dire situation of Palestinians in the West Bank, who are daily targets of settler violence with the blessings and encouragement of Israeli occupation forces.

Over the past few years, the condition for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank has continuously deteriorated. At the same time, the U.S. administration, European powers and even Muslim leaders have constantly tried to shove them under the carpet.

In this context, this writer regards Hamas’s October 07 attack as a statement: we are still here, and we matter!

Donald Trump tried to put a nail in Palestine’s coffin when he cut them out of the Abraham Accords. Joe Biden followed the same course, pushing for Arab-Israeli normalisation while avoiding Gaza and Palestinians. They were reduced to mere footnotes entitled to minuscule respites from their daily humiliations. The 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas should have been an eye-opener for the Biden administration, allowing them to comprehend that Palestine is at the centre of this conflict and that any solution that failed to incorporate genuine Palestinian aspirations is doomed to fail.

And it did fail.

The attack on October 07 not only washed away the Abraham Accords but also catapulted Palestine back on centre stage.

The American reaction to the attack was predictable. After repeating the trademark ‘right-to-defend’ phrase, the U.S. president endorsed false claims that Hamas operatives had killed Israeli babies by beheading (in a humiliating move, the White House walked back on this statement later). Biden further claimed (again falsely) that Hamas was using 2 million people in Gaza as a human shield.

Israel was already seething with anger. A few hundred ill-equipped and marginally trained fighters had beaten them at their own game. The Middle East’s most powerful army and the world’s most efficient intelligence agencies were taken off guard as Hamas operatives broke out of their collective cage.

The gloves were off now. Israel clarified that it was not bound by any rules of war (as if it had always abided by every international law). In the next few days, Gaza was subjected to a campaign that saw an equivalent of one-fourth of a nuclear bomb being dropped on the tiny enclave crammed with civilians.

Israel’s onslaught on Gaza blew up the U.S. Middle East policy in the president’s face. Several prominent Arab leaders refused to meet Joe Biden during his hastily prepared Middle East trip when Israel bombed a hospital, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

When the bomb hit Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, several Israeli ministers claimed responsibility for the attack gleefully. However, once the severity of the damage came to light and adverse world reactions began pouring in, Israel started accusing Palestinians. What the writer finds most disgusting is the haste with which a few Western news outlets began towing the Israeli line and asserted that the Al-Ahli Hospital carnage resulted from an Islamic Jihad misfire. If Palestinians had such powerful rockets capable of causing massive carnage, how come no such damage was seen in Israel, which received thousands of those rockets on October 07?

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