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Panelists for sustained peace in Gaza, lifting of Israeli seige

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Diplomats and writers call for accountability of Israel for its atrocities on Palestinians’ rushing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza; unity of Muslim states


By GNS Kaiser


Islamabad: Diplomats, writers and journalists at a Webinar on Friday described the fresh Israeli attack on Gaza as yet another genocide of Palestinians and part of its colonial expansionism. They called on the international community to intervene and rush humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza who have been traumatized, bruised and displaced.

“The Israeli atrocities on Palestinians after every few years is the ‘symptoms’ of a much deeper problem: the root cause of which lies in the continued Israeli occupation and the denial of rights to the Palestinians,” said Ambassador Khalid Mahmood in his keynote speech.

He stressed the need for addressing the root cause through the revival of the peace process, formation of a coalition force to protect the people of Palestine and sending humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

The Webinar, titled “Palestine under siege” was organised by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI).

Palestine under seige
Panellists call for an end to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians and sustained peace in Gaza. Photo: GNS kaiser/HighAsiaHerald

Mr Mahmood, who is also chairperson of the ISSI Board of the governor, outlined how Israel’s pattern of violence resurfaces after every few years and justified Palestinian armed resistance.

“The UN has also recognised the right to the armed struggle of people under colonial rule,” he exerted, drawing a similarity between the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and Palestine. According to him, Indians are also wrecking all kinds of oppression on the people of Kashmir.

The festering wound

Dr Muhammad Makram Balawi, a Palestinian writer and President of the Asia-Middle East Forum, said that the Palestinian wound has been festering for over seven decades now. Israel has been working on changing the face of the Palestinian lands in particular Al-Quds in violation of International law. Israel has maintained a de facto sovereignty over Jerusalem, he said.

Dr Balawi criticized the international community for failing to protect Jerusalem. “Any apathy is a betrayal to humanity itself,” he remarked.

“Israel does not believe in diplomacy. It only understands the use of force. If it is not held accountable, there will be not a single Palestinian left alive.”

He also thanked Pakistan for thwarting all attempts to recognise Israel.

Nader Alturk, Deputy Head of Mission/Counselor, Palestinian Embassy gave an overview of the Palestinian issue from a historical perspective starting in 1916. When the first UN resolution regarding a two-state solution came, only 15 percent of the population was Jews and now it is 55 percent which is a huge demographic shift.

Establishing Israel has not resulted in peace but escalated conflicts and carnage in the Middle East. Israel is acting like a neo-Nazi state.

“Every Palestinian speaks of peace but in their heart there is a freedom fighter.”

He also thanked Pakistan for its unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

“Every Palestinian speaks of peace but in their heart, there is a freedom fighter.”

—Palestinian diplomat Nader Alturk,

Israeli impunity and law

Research Society of International Law’s director Muhammad Oves Anwar said that what we have seen in legal terms has been very disheartening. Legal technicalities have been invoked to justify the wrongful targeting of civilians. There has been misrepresentation and enforced failure of international law. When accountability is missing we see other countries emboldened as is the case in Kashmir.

Human rights law becomes ineffective from the inability of the international community to implement it. It gives us a lexicon to state our narrative and defines terms like war crimes.

Former diplomat and ISSI Director-General Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said although the ceasefire is a welcome development, it is disappointing that the Security Council could not enforce it because of the US veto.

He pointed out that the siege has not been lifted and the important question is how can a sustained ceasefire be ensured?

The eleven days of carnage have also laid bare the double standards of the so-called human rights champions.

Dr Bilal Ahmed, Director-General, Middle East desk at the foreign ministry, said that Pakistan’s position regarding Palestine is embedded in its history set out by its forefathers and has remained unwavering.

He outlined the illegal actions undertaken by Israel with impunity which has three effects: it makes two-state solutions farfetched; it causes a repetitive cycle of violence to occur in the occupied territory; it leads to oppressive regimes acting with impunity in other parts of the world, for example, Indian actions in Kashmir.

Role of media

During her introductory remarks, CAMEA Director Amina Khan said that the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israelis against Palestinians is appalling and jarring.

“Unsurprisingly, there is a deafening silence from the media which continues to eulogise Israel’s stance and at the same time continues to turn a blind eye towards its atrocities,” she said.

This was also echoed by Haitham Naser, a Palestinian journalist, a correspondent for the TRT Arabic channel. He said that Twitter and social media have changed the situation allowing citizens of Israel and people in the West to see the actual situation and influenced public opinion.

Social media has changed the situation allowing Israeli citizens and people in the West to see the actual situation and influenced public opinion

Haitham Naser, a Palestinian journalist

Although the change in opinion brought about by social media is not what the Palestinians have been expecting, it is still significant.

Ambassador Javid Hafeez also underlined the importance of the role of social media in presenting the true picture of events.

Recalling historical facts, he said Israel had been keeping shifting its goalposts. “The Abraham Accords were supposed to lead to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian problem but that never happened.”

He regretted on how the Arab world today is divided. Palestinian ranks are cracked as well. In the course of the past eleven days there has been largely lip service and rhetoric by Muslim rulers without actual actions.

The Abraham Accords were supposed to lead to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian problem but that never happened

Ambassador Javid Hafeez

He underlined the importance of unity among the Muslim states, Arabs and Palestinians to devise a long term strategy aimed at tackling the issue including accountability of Israeli atrocities.

Dr Nazir Hussain, former dean of School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University said that it is the systematic policy of Israel to constantly put pressure on Hamas.

He said that the first and foremost issue is disunity among the Palestinians, Arab and the Muslim world. He applauded the resistance that Hamas put up in the face of Israeli occupation forces and highlighted the double standards of the Muslim leaders during the past 11 days.

He was of the view that Israel will continue its barbarities to gain sympathies of the international community and called for united efforts to expose it on every forum.

Dr Daud Abdullah stated that Hamas has emerged as the de facto protector of the Palestinian people. There is also a recognition that Hamas is not just a military force but a political force as well. Their ability to participate in the political process has now been acknowledged. 

Through ingenuity, resilience and resolve, Palestinians have been able to put up commendable resistance, he said.

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