Home Columns

Israel Palestine Face-Off: Will The Fauda Ever End?

Recent clashes between Israel and Palestine could lead to a dangerous escalation. Therefore the UN and the international community must come forward to negotiate a ‘Truce Deal’ between the two nations.

By Mohammad Shahnawaz Abbas
New Update

publive-image Escalated tension between Israel and Palestine results in precious loss of lives | Pic Courtesy: @UNHumanRights | Twitter

During the last week of January, there was an extraordinary escalation of tension between Israel and Palestine, resulting in precious loss of lives and a heightened threat to this incendiary region.

On Friday night (27 January 2023), a Palestinian gunman killed seven Israelis and injured others near an East Jerusalem synagogue. This incident was the first of its kind in the history of east Jerusalem. World leaders from all quarters of the globe extended their sympathies to victims’ families and urged Tel Aviv to exercise maximum restraint before retaliating.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a prompt, strong and precise response against any act of violence by the Palestinian armed groups. However, Friday’s attack in the Jerusalem city area was an act of retaliation by Palestinian armed groups enraged at the military raids on the Jenin refugee camp by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) that had left nine Palestinians dead, including an elderly woman.

Tor Wenneslad, a UN official engaged with the Middle East Peace Process, described the Palestinian deaths as a ‘stark example’ of the escalation and violence caused by Israeli security forces. Palestinian Authority also held Israel responsible for the massacre of innocent Palestinians and snapped their security ties with Israeli agencies - a step that had also been taken in the past.

Israelis allege that Jenin refugee camp is home to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, and an operative cell was planning to attack Israelis - hence their murderous raid that had left nine dead. Palestinian armed group of the Gaza strip (Islamic Resistance Movement-HAMAS) fired six rockets in retaliation to Thursday’s Jenin raid. But eventually, all six rockets were neutralised in the air by the Israel Iron Dome missile defence system.

To explore the de-escalatory options, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on a three-day visit to the Middle East, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Cairo and Tel Aviv, respectively. In Cairo, Blinken said he wanted to strengthen Washington’s ‘strategic partnership’ with Egypt, a major recipient of US military aid that has helped mediate the Israel-Palestinian conflict many times.

Upon his arrival in Tel Aviv, Antony Blinken urged both sides to exercise caution to ease the simmering tensions between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. Mahmood Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, recalled all the acts of aggression and violence by Israeli security forces (West Bank and in Gaza in recent times) with Antony Blinken. Finally, Blinken concluded his Middle East tour without any breakthrough in reducing the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

A UN Report (HRW-2023) suggests that in 2022 more than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, were killed across the occupied territories (West Bank and Gaza), whereas human fatalities from the Israel side accounted for 19 (March to May 2022). IDF took 29 Palestinian lives in January alone this year. Among them, five were children.

Another significant report published by the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights (2022) shows that the IDF had demolished 784 homes in the West Bank as collective punishment. Usually, Israel demolishes the houses of Palestinians who attacked or attempted to attack Israeli civilians or security forces.

Historically, the land where the present-day Israel is was a ‘Palestinian Region’ governed and controlled by the Ottoman Empire for more than four hundred years. During World War-I, the Ottomans lost control of the ‘Palestinian Region’. Later on, under the ‘British Mandate’ system, Palestine Region, had been entitled and allocated for the Jewish diaspora under the ‘Balfour Declaration’ (1917) and UN Resolution 181, 1947.

Palestinians never accepted ‘Israel as a Jewish state’ in their motherland. Even today, they refute all the rhetoric and claims of the Jewish ‘right to return’ on their own ‘Palestinian Region’ where their forefathers and generations lived until their last days.

Ever since Israel was declared as a Jewish state in the ‘Palestinian Region’ in 1948, Palestinians and Israelis have been locked in territorial claims, counterclaims resulting in a bloody armed struggle. Time and again, a mere verbal altercation from either side has led to low, medium and high-intensity conflicts between them. At times these provocations have led to a full-fledged war, as the world witnessed in the Arab Israeli War (1948), Suez Crisis (1956), Six-Days War (1967) and Operation Litani (1973). These wars led to the Arab world using ‘oil as a weapon’, thus introducing new imponderables in international diplomacy.

To resolve this conflict, many attempts like Camp David Accord (1979- a peace treaty that ended the thirty years conflict between Egypt and Israel), Oslo Accord-I (1993, laid the foundation for Palestine's self-governance in West Bank and Gaza), Oslo-II (1995, an extended version of Oslo-I), Madrid Peace Conference (1991- between US and Russia to bring Peace) and Abraham Accords (2020) were initiated but all those initiatives failed to deliver stated goals for enduring peace and tranquillity in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

The war will not end anytime soon as long as the perception remains that the West is taking the side of Israel, which has been accused of turning the Palestinian fight for an independent homeland into a religious war, thus feeding islamophobia in the world.

Mohammad Shahnawaz Abbas is an independent Delhi based researcher who works on: Strategic Geo-Economics, Energy and Migration issues related to West Asia.