Top U.N. officials are claiming that a deal has been made between Israel and Palestine to allow the Gaza Strip to rebuild, a task that will be long and most likely pointless. This development comes in the wake of a 50 day conflict which devastated the region and has left over 100,000 people homeless. Much of the area now lies in ruin, with an estimation of over 6000 structures destroyed.
But the U.N. brokered deal to rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip will soon join a long list of Israeli-Palestinian agreements that end in renewed conflict. Since U.N. Resolution 242 in 1967, which did little to halt the cycle of violence, the two sides have held countless talks of peace which have had little or no positive outcomes.
This is hardly a surprise, considering Israel’s policy of colonial expansion, which has served to increase the country’s borders since its conception in 1948. Since then almost every conflict and war Israel has fought has indirectly or even purposely served to expand its territory and force submission upon its Palestinian neighbours.
U.N. Resolution 242 called for an Israeli withdrawal from conquered Palestinian territories and recognized the right of political independence for all Sates. While Israel did withdraw from a few areas of Palestine, the majority of occupied territory remained under its control. Resolution 242 was then followed by resolution 338 in 1973, which re-iterated its predecessor and was also suitably ignored. Then, when Israel passed law in 1980 declaring Jerusalem as its capital, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 476, which declared the country’s actions to be in violation of the Geneva Convention and demanded that Israel desist. Like those before it, this resolution had no effect.
This was followed by the Oslo accord in 1993, which was widely regarded as a failure and was perhaps the final kick in the teeth for Palestine. While the Oslo accord was essentially a land-for-peace deal, it did nothing to stop Israel’s continued expansion throughout the negotiations. It began to disintegrate over the next several years and by the turn of the century had all but crumbled into the dust, along with the hopes and dreams of many thousands of Palestinians.
This disregard for the United Nations is helped, perhaps, by Israel’s biggest and best supporter, the United States. Since the relationship began in 1962 the U.S. has gifted Israel with over $100 Billion dollars in military aid, more than any other nation in the world. This relationship has only strengthened the Jewish State’s ability to essentially do whatever it wants with little or no consequences. The U.S. even went so far in its unwavering support for Israel that it vetoed Palestine’s request for membership in the United Nations, effectively denying the Gaza Strip and West Bank their right to participate in world issues as Palestinian states.
One thing the Oslo accord did achieve was the recognition of each party that the other had the right to exist. But this has only changed Israel’s war strategy from one of colonial expansion to one of indefinite and often murderous self-defence. Self-defence, as powerful nations have often shown, is one of today’s best excuses for going to war. Now, thanks to Israel’s aggressive and relentless “defensive measures,” the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip seems almost completely pointless. Militant groups have always posed a threat to the Jewish State and it won’t be long before Israel finds another reason to launch airstrikes within Gaza.
There are many who will forgive Israel’s often heavy hand, the United States included. But the Hamas warriors that launch their rockets over the border are fighting an enemy that has systematically invaded and conquered their territory for the last 65 years, an enemy they believe should not exist. And with Israel’s excessive and violent reaction to almost every tiny moment of aggression, it is easy to imagine how militarized organizations such as Hamas might have little trouble in finding new recruits.
However, it is the civilians in Gaza that suffer whenever Israel launches one of its violent defensive campaigns. Operation “Pillar of Defence” took the lives of 167 Palestinians, less than half of which were believed to have been combatants. Over 1000 civilians died in the Gaza War during 2008-09 and Israel’s latest defensive manoeuvre, operation “Protective Edge” amounted to over 2000 Palestinian deaths in just 50 days.
So the cycle of war will continue. Homes and schools in the Gaza Strip will be pointlessly rebuilt and a fragile ceasefire will ensue. Though Israeli and Palestinian leaders will resume talks of peace, Israel will continue to dominate Gaza and the West Bank through superior firepower, ruthless military tactics and U.S. support. Then, when nothing has changed, frustrated and angry Palestinians will be drawn into Hamas or whichever violent organization springs up in its place. Rockets will be launched into Israel, sparking another defensive campaign that will ultimately devastate the Gaza Strip once again, destroying homes and schools and giving the Palestinians another long tally of innocent civilian deaths.
Opinion by Mathew Channer