Disputes in Jerusalem over a site holy to Jews as the Temple Mount yet also revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif have led to a wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis since early October. At time of writing, 44 Palestinians had been killed in shootings and clashes with Israeli forces. Eight Israelis were also killed in stabbings during the same period.
What we’re seeing is, sadly, not new. Last year, Israeli airstrikes killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and injured a further 10,000 according to figures from the UN and the Gaza Health Ministry. The attacks carried out by Hamas have also led to a total of 67 Israeli deaths. Tensions between the two parties appear to flare up on an annual basis.
For those who aren’t too well-read on this issue, this conflict has, essentially, lasted since 1947, when the state of Israel was created in the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. The plan split up Palestine into similarly-sized Arab (Palestinian) and Jewish (Israeli) sectors. However, Israel has forcefully occupied much of the Palestinian land through wars and the tacit construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. Considering the entirety of Palestine was originally an Arab state, it is easy to see why the Palestinians (Arabs) are rather upset about the current situation.
The status of Jerusalem is another sensitive issue. As the city contains monuments sacred to both Jews and Arabs, it was also split into Israeli and Arab sectors in the UN plan. However, the Palestinian sector has since been illegally annexed by the Israeli government, much to the dismay of the international community.
Despite the odds, there is still hope for Palestine and its people. The social awakening of the youth and the widespread availability of social media has made Israeli repression increasingly difficult; Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people are garnering more attention. The Israeli government is also having trouble maintaining support from their only ally, the United States, and the international Jewish community. It won’t be long until the current government loses its grip.
That is not to say that I don’t sympathise with the Israelis as well – I do. There is, indeed, a need for a Jewish homeland; the Jewish people have faced an intense amount of persecution throughout history and will continue to do so if they weren’t granted the “homeland” that is Israel. The Palestinian struggle has incurred some Israeli deaths, too; the Palestinians are not entirely innocent.
Nevertheless, what matters here and now is the egregious human rights violations carried out against the Palestinian people by the Israeli settlers. The Palestinians are mistreated, abused, and even killed on a daily basis.
There is no easy way to solve this; the divide between Palestinians and Israelis is almost irreversible. There is no use searching for a long-term solution at this point in time, but what we can do in the interim is to ensure that this violence stops. We, the international community, have to impose concrete sanctions on Israel that will deter them from continuing their practices. Let’s say goodbye to the futile, strongly-worded letters of condemnation and bring in actual punitive measures. The Palestinian people are ready for freedom, the Palestinian people are ready for peace; all they need now is a little help from us.