“We can’t finish the war without eliminating Hamas leadership” ~ Prime Minister Netanyahu.
It appears that the US President, Joe Biden, is supporting the Rafah invasion plan provided Israel produces a “credible and executable plan” to protect the more than a million people in the city. Mr. Biden is also tacitly endorsing the plan or is powerless to stop the Israeli action, although he knows and the world knows that however credible and executable a plan is, the Israeli invasion will result in countless numbers of deaths of innocent civilians, more homelessness, and the destruction of whatever is left in that area. Who exercises real power is a valid question to be asked here as the US appears unable or unwilling to stop Israel from doing what they want.
Besides this, the broader question is and should be, what right Israel has got to invade Rafah and subject so many innocent Palestinians to a life of misery should they be fortunate enough not to be killed by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians do not appear to have any rights.
Already 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli forces so far. Gaza has been more or less decimated and reports from several international agencies and international media agencies, including the UN, have said that there’s hardly any food to eat or even water to drink, and hospitals too have faced the brunt of Israeli attacks. Whatever is standing has hardly any medicines or facilities to treat casualties. Gaza is portrayed rightly as a living hell. Despite this, no country in the world, the rich and powerful including the USA, China, India, Russia, the Arab countries with all their wealth, the Western world, the UN, and other international agencies have not been able to prevent Israel from doing whatever they have chosen to do. The imminent Israeli ground attack on Rafah, where the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says would lead to “unspeakable human catastrophe,” has not moved the so-called rich and powerful of the world to take any positive concrete action. It is impotency at its worst.
Mr. Netanyahu appears to be saying that killing nearly 30,000 Palestinians (so far) and more if required is the price the Palestinians have to pay until he achieves his goal. Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum reporting from Rafah says “no choices remain” for Palestinians as 1.9 million of them sheltering in densely populated Rafah receive evacuation orders.
A lone voice in the US, a man who has guts and a genuine concern for the Palestinians, and humanity in general, Senator Bernie Sanders says military aid for Israel is ‘unacceptable’ amid fears of this predicted Rafah catastrophe. He has criticized the emperor without clothes, the US Congress, for considering sending $14bn in military aid to Israel as it prepares to launch the assault on Rafah, which the world is fully aware will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Sanders said it was “quite unbelievable” that the US was planning to provide more military aid to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government given the enormous death toll and destruction in Gaza. In impassioned remarks to the US Senate, Senator Sanders said, “does the United States Congress really want to provide more military aid to Netanyahu so that he can annihilate thousands and thousands more men, women, and children? “Do we really want to reward Netanyahu he asks even while he ignores virtually everything the president of the United States is asking him to do?
While the world’s media keeps reporting that Israel is facing growing international warnings over its planned offensive in Rafah – the city in southern Gaza crammed with Palestinian refugees, such warnings are and have been as hollow as the brains of some of the world leaders who are issuing such ineffective warnings. They have fallen on the deaf ears of Israel’s leadership who have paid scant regard to such warnings.
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron says “over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in Rafah, while Dutch FM Hanke Bruins Slot said there could be “many civilian casualties”. Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions” if Rafah was stormed.
What repercussions? Gaza is already a mass of rubble, nearly 30,000 killed, hundreds and thousands homeless, many children have become orphans. Why have there been no repercussions so far? Is Saudi Arabia waiting for Rafah to become a graveyard and all of Gaza to be raised to the ground? Gaza’s Hamas rulers say there could “tens of thousands” of casualties if Rafah is attacked. Maybe this is what the world wants to see happening before they ask Israel very lamely, to agree to a ceasefire.
Surely Israel must realize that more and more militant Palestinians will emerge from this catastrophe, and that they could be even more extremist than the alleged Hamas fighters who invaded Israel on October 7th. Israelis may not be safe from such militant Palestinians irrespective of where they are, even outside Israel. Violence begets violence, and Israel has shown how violent and uncaring they can be. If common-sense law prevails, they may face the consequences of their violence with even more ferocious violence.
The current campaign led by Netanyahu can only be stopped by Israelis themselves. If not for any other reason, in their interest. They could disregard the plight of the Palestinians if they chose to, but they could rise against Netanyahu to prevent their catastrophe at the hands of militant Palestinians. Israel needs a long-term, sustainable solution to the Palestinian issue, and what Netanyahu and his extremist supporters are doing is not a solution, long or short term, but creating an even bigger problem. Israel is already corralled within its boundaries with high walls and barbed wire and other security apparatus. They must ask themselves what other measures are needed to strengthen their isolation and future attacks by militant Palestinians if the current hostilities continue.
Instead, shouldn’t they ask about measures that will give them peace of mind and the freedom to move around within their country without fear, and also among Palestinians as well? As stated earlier, at least in their interest, shouldn’t they promote a Palestinian State where Palestinians could live without fear, without being decimated by Israeli forces, and where Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and in refugee camps in several countries could live in a place they could call home?
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) estimates there are about 5.9 million Palestinians who meet their definition of a refugee and who are eligible for UNRWA services. Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” (https://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees) The Israeli policies pertaining to the Palestinian issue have been extremely shortsighted and they have negatively impacted the people of Israel, most of whom are undoubtedly very reasonable human beings. The extremist right virtually rules Israel while the moderates who could have taken the leadership to move the country away from its current trajectory have been ineffective and, by implication, supportive of the extremists’ agenda. The people of Israel may have to pay a steep price if they do not rise against the plight their current leadership is heaping on innocent Palestinians.
Britannica defines a superpower as “a state that possesses military or economic might, or both, and general influence vastly superior to that of other states.” Readers could come to their conclusions as to which country is the effective superpower considering the impotency of the world’s power centers like the USA, China, India, Russia, and rich nations like Saudi Arabia.