The enduring conflict between Palestine and Israel is a profoundly intricate and longstanding issue, characterized by a lengthy history of violence, casualties, and forced displacement. Since 1948, when an apartheid Jewish state was established on Palestinian territory, indigenous Palestinians have borne the brunt of this conflict.
Israel exercises control over crucial aspects of life in Palestine, imposing a continuous land, air, and sea blockade, as well as bombing. This restricts over 2 million Palestinians, half of whom are children, to the Gaza Strip, an approximately 25-mile stretch of Palestinian land.
The IDF forces consistently oppress the population there, showing no signs of humanity. These people, with nowhere to go, endure atrocities and are deprived of their right to freedom. Over the years, while still on their land, they have become strangers to their soil.
Many international organizations often refer to it as ‘The largest prison on Earth.’ The inhumane actions and continuous human rights violations by Israelis have never been condemned or addressed by Western societies or the media, highlighting the double standards of the West.
It also encourages a thorough examination of the role played by Western superpowers, particularly the United States: are they truly advocates for human rights, or is this notion of human rights merely selective?
The events of October 7 and the Subsequent Unrest
In the early hours of October 7, militants associated with the armed wing of Hamas breached the Gaza Strip and initiated an unexpected assault on southern Israel. In a small kibbutz located just 2km (1.2 miles) from Gaza, a community of approximately 200 individuals awoke to blaring air raid sirens. Subsequently, Hamas fighters stormed the houses, resulting in the death of 13 people.
In response to the Hamas attacks, the Israeli military conducted airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and various other parts of Palestine, indiscriminately targeting sensitive areas such as hospitals, schools, food shelter locations, and mosques. As per the reports from de facto authorities in Gaza the number of people killed had exceeded 5,000 in less than 20 days.
While the loss of innocent lives is inexcusable, the persistent intensity of Israel’s military operations has, paradoxically, undermined their defensive position, leaving them at a notable disadvantage relative to their military capabilities. This is not the first instance of Israeli forces engaging in vicious acts against the innocent people of Palestine; rather, the people of Palestine regularly endure such suffering to survive.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “We are at war and we will win it,” this assertion appears irrational. The evident reality is that Israel possesses a fully equipped and trained military with advanced weapons systems. In stark contrast, the people of Palestine lack such resources, making it clear that Israel’s actions are more similar to acts of genocide rather than being considered part of a legitimate or conventional war.
The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has decried Israel’s relentless aerial and artillery attacks on the Gaza Strip, transforming it into a dire environment of death and destruction. The organization cited 14 Palestinians killed per hour on the eighth day of “Operation Iron Swords.” Over 6,000 bombs hit the densely populated area of two million residents, likened to a quarter of a nuclear bomb.
Western Double Standards and the selective Human Rights Advocacy
After Netanyahu’s statement, major states including the US, UK, France, and Germany expressed support for Israel. The Biden Administration, aligning fully with its ally, also dispatched two aircraft carriers to reinforce its stance.
The noteworthy thing here is that the international mainstream media, along with Western nations supporting Israel, remained largely indifferent to the plight of the Palestinian people over the years. However, the narrative shifted when the oppressed population responded to the aggression.
Suddenly, these entities assumed the role of advocates for human rights and dignity, seemingly privileging the rights of Israelis over those of Palestinians. This bias is attributed, in part, to the religious identity of the Palestinians, who are predominantly Muslims. This observation underscores the prevailing trend of escalating Islamophobia within Western societies.
When the United States was formed, protecting basic human rights was a crucial idea. Since then, the U.S. has aimed to promote respect for human rights globally, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However, it’s challenging to believe the U.S. supports human rights when, according to the State Department, they back Israel despite ongoing genocide in Palestine. The close economic and military ties between Tel Aviv and the White House, with almost 50 billion dollars in bilateral trade annually, suggest that human rights are selectively considered based on American national interests.
Leadership Inaction in Muslim Nations
The ongoing deterioration of the situation reveals a conspicuous lack of action by Muslim states against Israel’s atrocities and exposes the hypocrisy of the West. While the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned Israel’s actions, it has not yielded significant results so far.
Iran has urged Islamic countries to impose embargo on Israel, including oil sanctions and the expulsion of Israeli ambassadors if diplomatic ties exist, while also advocating for the establishment of a team of Islamic lawyers to document potential war crimes in Gaza; it’s noteworthy that Iran currently has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
While there hasn’t been a significant action or formal protests from Muslim states on the international stage regarding Israel’s actions, there is a noticeable surge of support and unity among the citizens within certain countries, including Pakistan, Jordan, and Turkey, at the domestic level. Despite this grassroots support, there is a prevailing sense of disappointment among these citizens, who express discontent with their leaders for not taking a strong and unequivocal stance in favor of the Palestinian liberation and freedom movement on the global platform.
In conclusion, the recurring pattern of selective support for human rights by Western nations, especially concerning the Muslim world, is evident. While the West, including the United States, has repeatedly shown a tendency to prioritize its interests over consistent advocacy for human rights, the lack of impactful action from Muslim nations is equally alarming. As the death toll in Gaza continues to rise, the ongoing conflict underscores the urgent need for a more principled and unified approach to address the humanitarian crisis in the region.
*The author is a BS student in International Relations at Fatima Jinnah Women University.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility for the content of this article.