War is its own revenge and enemy: Balance sheet of death in Israel-Gaza crisis 

It has now been announced that Israel has approved a four-day ceasefire with the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 50 hostages - women and children.

By Om Prakash Dwivedi

As I write this column, thousands of innocent civilians, including kids, have already been killed, first in Israel, and later in Gaza. This column is in support of all the innocent people who have been sacrificed in the fire of terrorism and war.

One does not live to be killed by terrorists just like one ought not to assign liberation tasks to violent ideologies. Those who only believe in the cult of violence will end up murdering democratic efforts, liberation movements, including innocent civilians.

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It has now been announced that Israel has approved a four-day ceasefire with the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 50 hostages – women and children.

All of us have only one life. Therefore, the right to live should be an enduring idea for all of us. Death will come when it must, naturally, in different manifestations though. Our efforts should be focused more on protecting and nourishing life forms. Disregarding the sacrosanctity of life would only spell doom for all of us, for it is the very nature of violence that it percolates slowly, before it is stoked and spread across boundaries and communities. Violence, it may appear to have a communal/racial colour, but if it remains unabated, it blurs all such distinct boundaries.

The right to exist belongs to everyone unless one is entrenched in violence to the extent that one stops believing in the existence of other groups, communities, and races. One needs to recall that “I” exists only in relation to “You”. In other words, my presence can only be validated by the Other. The same stands true in the ongoing cataclysmic violence.

Many of the Palestinians are neither related to Hamas, nor affiliated to it, nor do they support its bloody attack on the innocent Israelis. It is another matter that one finds “educated” and “self-acclaimed liberal” scholars/activists rhapsodizing Hamas’s terror activities while raising disparaging remarks about Israelis, demonising them, and questioning their right to exist. This eruption of pleasure and vilification of Israelis is tantamount to impiety and convincingly demonstrates the disillusioned nature of liberalism. The point is, liberalism is neither foolproof nor failsafe. Ideologies are taken for a ride when one starts using them to breed and promote violence and hatred selectively, only through one’s chosen lens colour, rather than being cognizant of the conjunctions and juxtapositions that underpin any idea/action.  

Those who claim that Hamas had no option left but to perpetuate terrorist acts to liberate Palestinians must also not forget that terrorism is likely to get a retaliatory response since tolerance as a virtue can neither be unlimited nor liberal, particularly when citizens are being kidnapped, tortured, and killed. But this complicates the situation in the region when we examine the tolerance level of the Palestinians who have been living under the shadow of death since long. As a state whose duty is to protect its citizens, the countermeasures adopted by Israelis in opening a war against Hamas cannot be condemned. The government loses moral ground if it fails to protect its citizens’ rights and lives.

What is troublesome in this ongoing war against terrorism is the ease with which it glosses over the tragedy of civilians on both sides.  While there can be arguments on both sides as to what led to this crisis, who is to be blamed, and, of course, whose lives matter more, the nub of the matter is that Israel’s retaliatory measures could have been designed in a way to protect and prevent innocent Palestinians’ life. It is not just death but the fear of it that Gazans breathe presently, not to forget about the dysfunctional hospitals, breaking out of new diseases, the termination of electricity supply, and lack of drinking water, which had rendered the entire land and atmosphere uninhabitable.

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That both institutional law and international humanitarian law have neither shown any interest nor exercised any resolution highlights their character. The failure to come to the rescue of ailing and dying civilians evokes the age-old practices of racism, embedded as it is within the white structures and policies.

War is both its own enemy and its own revenge. As obvious, it is stoked with grains of religion, race, and jingoism, but once it spreads the victims lose all identitarian marks because it is humanity that gets deflated and defeated. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the same human rights, and it would be unfair to deprive either of them just on the basis of their racial or communal moorings. Also, the divisive humanity that undergirds Muslims and Jews is ironic given the fact that their genealogical lineage is tethered to the Abrahamic religion (1996 to 1821 BC). The cataclysmic events that a war triggers are a fait accompli since it treats humans as wasted lives. It is also ironic to notice that there are people on both sides trying to defend the wrongdoings citing the balance sheet of death. As if it is a moral compulsion to overweigh the other in the death figures in the game of war.

Reports also claim to witness the sporadic fire exchanges between the Hezbollah terrorist organisation and Israeli soldiers, thus lending credence to the speculation of a luring threat of the rise of radical Islamists. While it is very unlikely that Arab nations would intervene in this war since none of them has shown any generosity towards the ailing Palestinians by opening their borders, this may consolidate and energise the radicals in the region, bringing them together on a common platform to unleash further acts of terrorism against Christian countries. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi rejected the idea of the Gazans’ relocation citing “Palestinian cause [as] the mother of all causes.”

It is for obvious reasons that India, Australia and America are rendering their full support to Israel. There has been no change in America’s position on the Israel-Gaza matter. Particularly, the timing of America’s support fits well with the upcoming elections in 2024. That is also why there is little hope that the two-nation solution pitched by the Indian government will remain unnoticed. Will the two children of Abraham be able to resolve this deep crisis and learn to live peacefully? This hope should be the enduring hope of the peacemaking process. 

Contributing Author: Om Prakash Dwivedi tweets @opdwivedi82. His interests lie in the field of postcolonial theory.

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