Written by Deborah Kiameh
Reading time: 25 minutes
The Historical Perspective
With roots in the early 20th century, the Palestine and Israel conflict is a protracted and complicated issue. It is a conflict between the primarily Jewish and Hebrew-speaking Israelis and the primarily Muslim and Arabic-speaking Palestinians. When Zionist immigrants started to settle in Palestine, which was then governed by the Ottoman Empire, in the late 19th century, the conflict was just beginning. The Palestinian Arabs who lived there saw this wave of immigration as a threat to their own claims to the land and their rights to self-determination.
The Zionist movement sought to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, mainly for spiritual and messianic reasons; ‘the desire for a return to Zion’ (hence the term; Zionism) after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the subsequent diaspora of the Jewish people.
Territorial disputes, questions of self-determination, and competing claims to Jerusalem are just a few of the conflict’s many facets. While the Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, Israel claims that Jerusalem is its capital. Hence, religion and identity issues have also fueled the conflict, with each side accusing the other of oppression and discrimination. So conflicts and wars began as a result of deep-rooted political, social, and economic tensions that escalated to a point where peaceful resolutions became moreover unattainable.
Palestine historic overview
Palestine is a region located in the Eastern Mediterranean, and has a complex and contentious history that spans thousands of years, with various civilizations and empires leaving their mark on the land.
The Canaanites, who lived in the area around 3000 BCE, are credited with being the first known civilization in Palestine, according to historical records. Later, the Egyptians—who ruled the area for several centuries—conquered the Canaanites. The Philistines, an Aegean seafaring people, settled in the area and gave it the name “Palestine” in the 12th century BCE.
Persian and Hellenistic Periods
Palestine was taken over by the Persian Empire in the sixth century BCE, and it remained under Persian rule until Alexander the Great took it over in the fourth century BCE. Following the Hellenistic era, Jewish communities were established in the area, and Jewish religious and cultural institutions were created.
Roman and Byzantine Periods
Palestine was taken over by the Roman Empire in the first century CE, and the Romans ruled it there for a number of centuries. Jerusalem was designated as the Jewish people’s capital during this time, and the area was a hub of Jewish religious and political activity. Palestine was governed by the Christian Byzantine Empire after the Roman Empire was overthrown.
Palestine was subjugated by the Islamic Empire for several centuries after its conquest in the seventh century CE. The city of Jerusalem was established as a significant center of Islamic learning and pilgrimage during this time, and the area was a hub of Islamic religious and cultural activity.
Crusades and the Mongol Invasion
The Crusades were started by European Christians in the 11th century CE with the intention of retaking the Holy Land from Muslim control. Palestine suffered greatly as a result of the Crusades, and the area was torn apart by conflict and famine. The Mongols invaded Palestine in the 13th century CE, further wreaking havoc and causing destruction.
Palestine was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century CE, and the Ottomans ruled over it for several centuries. The city of Jerusalem was established as a significant center of Islamic pilgrimage during this time, and the area was a center of Islamic learning and culture.
The modern Zionist movement was started in the late 19th century CE with the intention of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Theodor Herzl is considered the father of modern political Zionism. While he was not the first to promote the idea of a Jewish homeland, he gave it political viability. n 1897, Herzl organized the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. The Congress gathered Jewish leaders from various countries and adopted the Basel Program, which called for the establishment of a “home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” As a result, there was a surge in Jewish immigration to the area, which raised tensions with the local Arab population. Israel was founded in 1948, and the Arab-Israeli War that followed resulted in the eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
Since then, there has been constant hostility and tension between Israelis and Palestinians, with both sides staking claim to ownership of the land. Numerous wars and skirmishes, as well as attempts at peacemaking and rapprochement, have taken place in the area. The status of Palestine’s political future and the rights of its citizens are still up for debate, and the region is still considered to be a contested one.
Current Political Issues Facing Palestine
Palestine is currently dealing with a wide range of intricate political issues. The long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has lasted for decades, is one of the most urgent issues. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, the development of settlements, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip are all results of the conflict. Widespread human rights violations have resulted from these actions, including the excessive use of force by Israeli forces, travel restrictions, and a lack of access to necessities like water and healthcare.
The division of Palestine between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a further significant problem. The Palestinian Authority’s capacity to effectively govern and serve its populace has been hampered by the split. A severe humanitarian crisis is also occurring in the Gaza Strip as a result of the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.
Furthermore, due to the recent reductions in funding by the United States to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Palestine is currently experiencing a political and economic crisis. More than 5 million Palestinian refugees are assisted by the organization with essential services like education, healthcare, and social support. The cuts have raised questions about the future of the peace process and jeopardized the region’s stability.
The EU plays an significant role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and aims to promote peace, stability and a two-state solution. The EU’s involvement in the conflict is diverse and includes diplomatic efforts, financial support, humanitarian assistance and political dialogue.
Israel and Palestine negotiations have been facilitated by the EU through active diplomatic efforts. It endorses the terms of a two-state solution based on the boundaries of 1967, with Jerusalem serving as the capital of both states. The EU has repeatedly demanded an end to Israeli settlement growth in the occupied territories and decried acts of violence committed by both sides.
Various peace initiatives, including the Middle East Quartet (consisting of the EU, United Nations, United States, and Russia) and the Middle East Quartet Representative Office, have also involved the EU. These programs seek to mediate disputes between the parties and promote communication for a peaceful resolution.
One of the biggest financial aid providers to both Israelis and Palestinians is the EU. Through its European Neighborhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) and other funding mechanisms, it contributes significantly to development initiatives, humanitarian aid, and institution-building efforts in Palestine.
The financial assistance from the EU aims to raise the standard of living for Palestinians, encourage economic growth, fortify governance institutions, and strengthen security cooperation. The EU also provides financial support to Israeli civil society groups that work to promote peace and reconciliation.
Humanitarian aid is being actively provided by the EU to lessen the suffering of Palestinians who are impacted by the conflict. It supports numerous international and UN organizations working in Palestine to provide access to clean water, healthcare services, and emergency relief.
The EU also supports initiatives that address the needs of vulnerable groups like refugees, women, children, and people with disabilities as well as projects that help to rebuild infrastructure that has been destroyed as a result of conflicts. The EU’s humanitarian assistance aims to lessen current suffering while also addressing the root causes of the conflict.
In order to advance peace, observance of human rights, and adherence to international law, the EU holds political discussions with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. It meets with representatives from both sides frequently to talk about conflict-related topics like settlement growth, security coordination, and the status of Jerusalem.
The EU has consistently demanded a negotiated settlement to the conflict based on pertinent UN resolutions and international law. It promotes the upholding of human rights, including the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and backs initiatives to resolve pressing matters like borders, refugees, security, and the status of Jerusalem through amicable negotiations.
In conclusion, the EU is a major player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through its diplomatic efforts, financial support, and political dialogue. On the basis of international law and pertinent UN resolutions, it seeks to advance peace, stability, and a two-state solution.
Key Events in the Conflict
There have been many key events in the conflict between Palestine and Israel, including:
- The 1948 Arab-Israeli War: Egypt, Jordan, and Syria were the Arab nations that fought Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Thousands of Palestinians were uprooted as a result of the conflict, and refugee camps were built in surrounding nations.
- The Six-Day War: Israel launched an unexpected attack on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1967, which resulted in the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More Palestinians were displaced as a result of this conflict and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
- The First Intifada: The First Intifada, an uprising, started in 1987 as a reaction to Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories. The intifada, which lasted for several years, was characterized by widespread protests, unrest, and violence.
- The Oslo Accords: The Oslo Accords, which sought to create a foundation for peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), were signed at the beginning of the 1990s. The agreements were never fully implemented, though, and the combat kept getting worse.
- The Second Intifada: The Second Intifada, which started in 2000, was marked by even more pervasive violence and unrest than the first intifada. Numerous years of fighting resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.
Today, the conflict between Palestine and Israel remains unresolved, with ongoing human rights violations and the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. The situation in Gaza is particularly dire, with widespread poverty, unemployment, and a lack of access to basic necessities such as clean water and electricity and apartheid continues to be practiced by Israel. Especially after the invasion that happened on October 7th 2023 killing also many innocent civilians, including women and children. Israel has therefore, restricted any humanitarian aid to the region of Gaza.
Palestinians are routinely denied their rights and treated as a lower race, wherever they reside in Palestine. According to the researches, Israel’s cruel policies of racial segregation, land confiscation, and exclusion in all of the areas under its control clearly qualify as apartheid. There is a need for action by the international community and the European Union plays a significant role in terms of drafting policies.
An institutionalized system of racial dominance and oppression by one race over another is known as an apartheid system. It is a serious violation of basic human rights that is illegal under international law. According to the precise definition; a state, group or individual imposes such a system of government through laws, policies, and practices that guarantee their prolonged and inhumane discrimination.
According to international criminal law, apartheid is defined as a crime against humanity when specific illegal acts are carried out within an oppressive or dominating system with the intent to uphold it. These actions, which include unlawful killing, torture, forced relocation, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms, are outlined in the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention.
Even though they happen more frequently and violently in the OPT, Amnesty International documented acts that are prohibited by the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention in all the areas under Israel’s control. Israeli authorities take a variety of steps to consciously deny Palestinians their fundamental freedoms and rights, including severe movement restrictions in the OPT, ongoing underfunding of Palestinian communities in Israel on the basis of discrimination, and the denial of refugees’ right to return. The report also details illegal killings, torture, and administrative detention both in Israel and the OPT.
Amnesty International asserts that these crimes are a part of an organized, pervasive campaign against the Palestinian people and are carried out with the intention of upholding the oppressive, violent order. They thus stand for the atrocity committed against humanity by apartheid.
Accordingly, Amnesty International is urging the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel in light of the systematic, illegal killings of Palestinians it has identified in its report. Given the thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been unjustly killed by Israeli forces, this should apply to all weapons and munitions as well as law enforcement gear. Additionally, the Security Council ought to impose particular sanctions, like asset freezes, on the Israeli officials most responsible for the crime of apartheid.
Application of apartheid in Palestine by Israel:
Palestinians treated as a demographic threat
Israel has since 1948 pursued a policy of creating and then maintaining a Jewish majority population while maximizing control over land and resources for the benefit of Jewish Israelis. Israel expanded this policy to include the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. Today, all of the Israeli-occupied territories are still run in a way that benefits Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, and Palestinian refugees are still not allowed to return.
Israel’s desire to be a home for Jews is not contested by the fact that Jews, like Palestinians, assert a right to self-determination. Additionally, it does not believe that Israel’s designation as a “Jewish state” in and of itself implies an intent to subjugate and rule. However, reports indicate that Israeli governments have implemented policies to limit Palestinian presence and access to land in Israel and the OPT because they have viewed them as a demographic threat. Official plans to “Judaize” parts of Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which continue to put thousands of Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer, are a good example of these demographic goals.
Oppression without borders
Palestinian communities have been divided and segregated from Jewish Israelis as a result of the 1947–1949 and 1967 wars, Israel’s continued military occupation of the OPT, and the establishment of separate legal and administrative systems within the territory. Geographically and politically divided, Palestinians face varying degrees of discrimination based on their circumstances and where they live.
While Palestinians in Gaza have a very different experience from those in the West Bank, Palestinian citizens of Israel currently have more rights and freedoms than those living in the OPT. However, Amnesty International’s research demonstrates that the common system is applied to all Palestinians. The way Israel treats Palestinians in all contexts serves the same goal: to give Jewish Israelis preference in the distribution of land and resources and to reduce Palestinian presence and access to land.
According to Amnesty International, Israeli authorities view Palestinians as a less-deserving racial group because they are Arabs who are not Jews. Laws that apply to Palestinians in Israel and the OPT reflect this racial discrimination. For example, in the case, Palestinian Israeli citizens are legally distinguished from Jewish Israeli citizens by being denied a nationality. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel has maintained control of the population registry since 1967, lack citizenship and the majority are regarded as stateless, necessitating ID cards from the Israeli military in order to reside and conduct business there.
Palestinian refugees and their offspring who were uprooted during the wars of 1967 and 1947-49 continue to be denied the right to reclaim their former homes. Millions of people have been forced to live in indefinite displacement due to Israel’s flagrant violations of international law regarding the exclusion of refugees.
Instead of citizenship, Palestinians in the annexation of East Jerusalem are given permanent residence—a status that is only real in name. The Ministry of the Interior has unilaterally terminated the residency of more than 14,000 Palestinians since 1967, forcibly ejecting them from the city.
About 19% of Israel’s population are Palestinian citizens, and they experience a variety of institutionalized forms of discrimination. A constitutional law that for the first time proclaimed Israel the “nation state of the Jewish people” in 2018 crystallized discrimination against Palestinians. The law also downgrades Arabic’s status as an official language and encourages the development of Jewish settlements.
The report details how racist land seizures, a web of discriminatory laws regarding land allocation, planning, and zoning, and other factors effectively prevent Palestinians from leasing on 80% of Israel’s state land.
The situation in the southern Israeli region of the Negev/Naqab is a prime illustration of how Israel’s building and planning practices purposefully exclude Palestinians. Since 1948, Israeli authorities have implemented a number of policies to “Judaize” the Negev/Naqab, including setting targets for increasing the Jewish population and designating sizable areas as nature reserves or military firing ranges. For the tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins who reside in the area, this has had devastating repercussions.
About 68,000 people live in 35 Bedouin villages that Israel currently considers to be “unrecognized,” which means they are excluded from the country’s electricity and water grid and are frequently targeted for demolition. Residents of the villages face restrictions on political participation and are not included in the healthcare and educational systems because the villages lack any official status. Many people have been forced to leave their homes and villages as a result of these conditions, which is equivalent to forcible transfer. They have consistently been economically underprivileged in comparison to Jewish Israelis due to decades of deliberate discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This is made worse by the government’s blatantly discriminatory distribution of resources, such as the Covid-19 recovery package, of which only 1.7% went to Palestinian local authorities.
One of the main principles of Israel’s apartheid system is the eviction and forced relocation of Palestinians from their homes. Since its founding, the Israeli state has brutally and extensively expropriated Palestinian land, and it continues to enforce numerous laws and policies that confine Palestinians to tiny enclaves. Thousands of Palestinian homes and other buildings have been destroyed by Israel since 1948 in all areas that are subject to its legal jurisdiction and effective control.
Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Area C of the OPT live under total Israeli rule, just like in the Negev/Naqab. Palestinians in these areas are forced to build unauthorized structures that are continually demolished by the authorities because they are denied building permits.
The situation in the OPT is made worse by the ongoing growth of illegal Israeli settlements. Government policy has been to build these settlements in the OPT since 1967. 10% of the West Bank is now occupied by settlements, and 38% of the Palestinian land in East Jerusalem was expropriated between 1967 and 2017.
Settler groups frequently target Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem with the full support of the Israeli government in an effort to uproot Palestinian families and take their homes. Since May 2021, Sheikh Jarrah, one of these neighborhoods, has seen a lot of protests as families fight to keep their homes under the threat of a settler lawsuit
Restrictions of Movement
Israeli authorities have been restricting Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the OPT since the mid-1990s. The movement of Palestinians within the OPT is governed by a web of military checkpoints, roadblocks, fences, and other structures, and their access to Israel and other countries is also constrained.
Palestinian communities are segregated inside “military zones” by a 700km fence that Israel is still building, and they are required to obtain numerous special permits just to enter or leave their homes. A humanitarian crisis has been brought on by Israel’s blockade of Gaza, where more than 2 million Palestinians reside. Gazans are essentially cut off from the outside world because it is almost impossible for them to travel outside of the OPT or into other parts of the OPT.
The unfair acts and conflicts mentioned above created a volatile environment where diplomatic negotiations and peaceful resolutions became increasingly difficult to achieve. The accumulation of grievances, such as territorial disputes, economic inequalities, political power struggles, or religious tensions, fueled animosity and hostility among nations or groups. As tensions reached a tipping point, the parties involved resorted to military action as a means to assert their interests or seek retribution. Subsequently the importance of war laws must be highlighted.
War laws and regulations refer to set of rules and principles that govern the conduct of armed conflicts. These laws aim to protect civilians, combatants, and property during times of war, and ensure that hostilities are conducted in a manner consistent with humanitarian values. The body of international law that governs armed conflicts is known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL), also referred to as the Law of War or the Law of Armed Conflict.
International Humanitarian Law (IHL):
IHL, a branch of public international law, establishes rules of conduct for armed conflicts. It includes two main bodies of law: customary international law, which governs both international and non-international armed conflicts, and the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which apply to international armed conflicts.
The four agreements that make up the Geneva Conventions were ratified between 1864 and 1949. They offer a framework for the protection of people who are not currently participating in hostilities or have ceased doing so, such as sick or injured soldiers, prisoners of war, and civilians. The conventions lay out guidelines for how these people should be treated, including clauses addressing medical attention, humane treatment, and respect for their dignity.
The Geneva Conventions were expanded upon by the Additional Protocols, which were adopted in 1977. The protection of victims in international armed conflicts is covered by Protocol I, whereas the protection of victims in non-international armed conflicts is covered by Protocol II. These protocols add to the regulations set forth by the Geneva Conventions and offer more safeguards for both civilians and combatants.
Whether or not a state has ratified a particular treaty, customary international law refers to rules that have evolved over time through state practice and are regarded as binding on all states. Customary law covers a range of topics related to armed conflict, such as target selection, weapons and tactics, civilian protection, and cultural heritage.
Key Principles and Regulations:
- Distinction: Parties to a conflict must make a distinction between civilians and combatants, as well as between civilian objects and military objectives, according to the principle of distinction. While allowing for the lawful targeting of combatants and military targets, it forbids direct attacks on civilians and civilian-related objects.
- Proportionality: The proportionality principle forbids attacks that might be too harmful to civilians or civilian property in comparison to the expected military advantage. It demands that the anticipated harm to civilians or civilian property is not out of proportion to the specific and immediate military benefit envisioned from the attack.
- Precautions: A conflict’s parties are required to take all reasonable precautions to prevent harm to civilians and civilian property. This includes, when circumstances allow, providing adequate advance notice of attacks, taking precautions to prevent or reduce incidental civilian casualties, and refraining from using civilians or civilian objects to protect military targets.
- Prohibition of Certain Weapons: International law forbids the use of some weapons, including chemical, biological, and some indiscriminate weapons, that result in excessive harm or needless suffering.
- Treatment of Prisoners of War: The Geneva Conventions contain specific guidelines for the treatment of prisoners of war. These regulations cover humane treatment, medical care, protection from torture and other cruel or inhumane treatment, and access to the legal system.
- Protection of Cultural Property: during armed conflicts, cultural property is protected by international law. Museums, old buildings, and archaeological sites must adhere to guidelines established by the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Enforcement and Accountability:
Depending on the nature of the conflict and the parties involved, different enforcement mechanisms for war laws and regulations apply. States are responsible for ensuring IHL observance on their soil and may be held liable for violations carried out by their armed forces. To prosecute people for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, international criminal tribunals like the International Criminal Court (ICC) have also been established.
Israel’s Actions in Gaza and Allegations of Breaking War Laws:
Since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have been many violent incidents and violations of human rights. Particularly tense has been the situation in Gaza, a Palestinian territory ruled by Israel. Israel claims that its actions are necessary for self-defense, but international organizations and human rights advocates have made accusations and expressed concern about the nation’s adherence to international humanitarian law. This response aims to offer a thorough examination of the claims that Israel violated international law in Gaza.
Use of Disproportionate Force:
Israel is accused of using excessive force during its military operations in Gaza, which is one of the main accusations leveled against it. Parties to a conflict must make a distinction between combatants and civilians and only use force that is proportionate to the military goal, according to international humanitarian law. Many civilians have died as a result of Israel’s frequent use of excessive force, according to critics.
There have been allegations of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets such as homes, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure during military operations such as Operation Cast Lead in 2008–2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Significant civilian casualties, including women and children, were caused by these attacks. Such actions, according to critics, fail to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians and violate the proportionality principle.
Blockade and Collective Punishment:
Israel has additionally come under fire for imposing a blockade on Gaza since 2007. The blockade severely affects the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza by limiting the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza. People who disagree claim that this amounts to collective punishment, which is against international humanitarian law.
The consequences of the blockade on Gaza’s civilian population have been dire. Its restricted access to necessities like food, medicine, fuel, and building supplies has caused a humanitarian crisis. Additionally, the limitations on movement have made it more difficult to access opportunities for employment, healthcare, and education. Critics claim that the blockade constitutes an illegal form of collective punishment and infringes upon the rights of the civilian population.
Targeting of Civilian Infrastructure:
There have been claims that Israel targeted hospitals, water facilities, and other civilian infrastructure in Gaza on purpose. Attacks on civilian targets are forbidden by international humanitarian law unless they are being used for military objectives. Some claim that Israel’s targeting of civilian infrastructure goes beyond justifiable military goals and harms the civilian population unnecessarily.
For the people of Gaza, the destruction of crucial infrastructure has had dire repercussions. Access to healthcare, clean water, and electricity has been disrupted, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation. Such actions, according to critics, are illegal under international humanitarian law and add to the suffering of the civilian population.
Al Aqsa flood “Fayadan al Aqsa” (Oct. 7th 2023)
The Palestinian population has seen their circumstances worsen over years of bombings, daily killings of civilians and children, a 16-year siege of Gaza, apartheid, and occupation by Israeli forces and settlers. This can be considered an ongoing genocide.
The world was astonished by Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7. Although there have been Palestinian resistance activities since before the Nakba in 1948, they have been extremely intermittent, particularly in recent years as the occupation forces have tightened their grip on the Palestinian population.
Given that Palestinian resistance fighters have been able to make substantial progress and inflict unparalleled harm on occupying forces, the Al-Aqsa Flood marks a momentous shift. The young children who have been under siege their entire lives and who used to throw rocks at Israeli occupation tanks are now making the decision to fight, to reject living in cages, and to work toward their freedom.
By day’s end, the Palestinian Ministry of Health declared that, in a shockingly large underestimation, 232 Palestinians had died and several others had been injured. According to Hamas’s military arm, an estimated 300 Israelis were murdered on the first day, and “several times greater” than dozens were taken prisoner.
The foreign media framed the situation as an unprovoked attack by Hamas against Israeli civilians, even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was at war. The majority of powerful Western leaders swiftly denounced Hamas but said nothing about the root source of the problem, which is apartheid and continuous occupation.
Israeli warplanes carried out massacres in the heavily populated Al Shati and Jabalia refugee camps; they also bombed residential areas, including mosques; an ambulance that was transporting several injured people to hospitals; and an entire block in the Al Remal neighborhood, which is referred to as “the annihilation of families.” With food, fuel, and electricity being cut off from the Gaza Strip by the occupation, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered an all-out siege of the area.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza, the Red Cross headquarters, schools, and the Islamic University of Gaza were all targeted by Israeli airstrikes. Al-Rimal and other neighborhoods were leveled entirely.
Two Palestinians in Silwan village in Occupied Jerusalem and a young Palestinian man close to the Al Jalama Military checkpoint in Jenin were killed by gunfire from occupation forces. Furthermore, the Israeli army’s mass mobilization effort continued as new army and reserve personnel arrived. An Israeli airstrike claimed the lives of two Palestinian journalists, Saad Taweel and Mohammed Abu Reziq.
Four days of bombing nearly destroyed Rimal Neighborhood, and The Gaza power plant is on the verge of closing down entirely because of fuel shortage. The Gaza health ministry claims that medical personnel have been intentionally targeted by Israeli forces. Additionally, as Israeli air raids leveled buildings in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Al Karama—the same neighborhood where Israelis are using internationally prohibited white phosphorus bombs—medics were unable to reach the area.
Due to Israeli attacks, over 260,000 people have been displaced in Gaza, with over 175,000 of them seeking refuge in 88 UN schools. On the sixth day, Following the Israeli ambassador to the UN’s fabrication that the woman had been kidnapped, Hamas released a video showing its fighters freeing the woman and her children. According to the UN, 423,000 people are internally displaced in Gaza.
The majority of casualties resulting from Israeli warplane attacks are women and children. In Gaza, 15 hospitals suffered damage, and two of them ceased operations. Due to space constraints in cemeteries and the risk involved in transporting the bodies to hospitals, Gazan health officials are keeping the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes in ice cream freezer trucks.
Till the eleventh day, The Maamadani hospital in Gaza, which houses hundreds of displaced people, was the target of Israeli strikes. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that 500 people died. Subsequent unverified reports claim that up to 1,000 people have died. Israel alters the story to accuse Palestinian Islamic Jihad while denying any wrongdoing and placing the blame on Hamas.
Two days later, Israeli air raid destroyed one of the buildings belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church in the center of Gaza city, and the World Health Organization estimates that there are one million internally displaced people living there.bOn October 20th, The Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church, the oldest church in Gaza and the third-oldest church in the world still in use, is destroyed by an Israeli strike that results in at least 18 fatalities and numerous injuries because many people were seeking shelter inside.
Beside committing war crimes, killing civilians, children and women and targeting hospitals and churches, Israel’s military has been using white phosphorus weapons in Gaza and Lebanon recently. These weapons can cause severe burns and are particularly dangerous for civilians because of their indiscriminate nature.
Israeli officials angrily denied Human Rights Watch’s assessment that footage shot in Gaza and Lebanon on Tuesday and Wednesday revealed airdropped white phosphorus artillery rounds. Human Rights Watch stated that two in-person interviews with witnesses who described a characteristic white phosphorus smell, which is similar to garlic, validated its analysis. NBC News verified that a video shot at Gaza City port on October 11 by WAFA News Agency purportedly showed one of the same airstrikes that Human Rights Watch had described.
Here’s what to know about White Phosphorus:
White phosphorus is a harmful and extremely reactive material that can have a big effect on the environment. Its use and discharge into the environment may have a number of negative consequences on wildlife, ecosystems, and human health. This thorough response will explore the various ways that white phosphorus impacts the environment.
Phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) particles make up the dense white smoke that is produced when white phosphorus ignites. These particles contribute to air pollution because they can hang out in the atmosphere for long periods of time. Exposure to this smoke through inhalation can result in respiratory disorders, ocular irritation, and other health complications for both humans and animals.
Along with other harmful gases, burning white phosphorus releases diphosphane (P2H4) and phosphine (PH3). These gases present hazards to the environment and public health in addition to contributing to air pollution. Particularly toxic is phosphorine, which when inhaled can lead to serious respiratory distress.
Because white phosphorus dissolves readily in water, it can quickly contaminate aquatic environments. It lowers the pH levels of water when released into bodies of water because it reacts with oxygen to form phosphoric acid. Aquatic organisms may suffer harm from this pH drop as a result of physiological disturbances.
White phosphorus can also build up and stay in sediments for a very long time. Aquatic plants and organisms have the ability to absorb it, which can result in bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the food chain. Higher trophic levels may experience high concentrations of white phosphorus as a result of this process, which could be dangerous for apex predators.
Contamination with white phosphorus usually results from unintentional spills or incorrect disposal techniques. Because of its slow rate of degradation, it can linger in the soil for long periods of time. White phosphorus can have a detrimental effect on the fertility and quality of soil, which can then have an effect on plant growth and the general health of ecosystems.
Furthermore, plants have the ability to absorb white phosphorus, which could result in toxic consequences. This uptake may have an adverse effect on plant health and crop yields, which will ultimately lower agricultural productivity.
Wildlife and Ecosystem Impacts
White phosphorus leakage into the environment can seriously harm ecosystems and wildlife. Fish, amphibians, and invertebrates are among the aquatic creatures most susceptible to its harmful effects. In these species, exposure to white phosphorus can cause physiological abnormalities, problems with reproduction, and even death.
Moreover, white phosphorus pollution of waterways can upset the delicate balance of aquatic ecosystems. It has the potential to destroy vulnerable species, lower biodiversity, and change how these ecosystems are built and function.
Human Health Risks
White phosphorus poses serious health risks to people, both when consumed directly and when indirectly through contaminated food and water sources. White phosphorus smoke inhalation or coming into contact with burning particles can result in serious burns, breathing difficulties, and eye irritation.
Fish or other aquatic organisms that have been contaminated can expose people indirectly. These organisms’ tissues bioaccumulate white phosphorus, which may have long-term negative health effects on humans who eat them.
Final comments, authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians. Besides, a system that is based on the institutionalized and ongoing racial oppression of millions of people cannot possibly have any justification. States that choose to tolerate Israel will find themselves on the wrong side of history because apartheid has no place in our world. Governments that continue to arm Israel and shield it from UN accountability are promoting an apartheid system, undermining the rule of law globally, and adding to the suffering of the Palestinian people. The international community needs to acknowledge the reality of Israel’s apartheid and pursue the numerous, shamefully untried paths to justice.
Apartheid and war crimes require a more robust international response than simple condemnations and hesitations. Palestinians and Israelis will continue to engage in the cycle of violence that has claimed so many lives unless the root causes are addressed.
Deborah Kiameh raises awareness of the importance of sustainability is one of her main priorities. Future generations should not be deprived of resources and opportunities due to the lack of mismanagement in the world today. She believes CoSE addresses global issues and aids in funding projects towards environmental, ecological and health problems.
“A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Present Day” by Rashid Khalidi (2007).
The Oxford Handbook of the History of Palestine” edited by Rashid Khalidi and Muhammad Y. Muslih (2010)
“Palestine: A Modern History” by Nur Masalha (2000)
“A Brief History of Palestine.” BBC News, BBC, 26 Nov. 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-16343067 “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Very Short Introduction.” Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, 2019, https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-9780198792447
“The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip.” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations, 2020, https://www.ochaopt.org/gaza-humanitarian-situation
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – www.icrc.org
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – www.unocha.org
International Criminal Court (ICC) – www.icc-cpi.int