After 11 days of simultaneous deaths and destruction, a ceasefire agreement has been reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. At least 253 Palestinians, including about 70 children, have been killed in the conflict so far.
12 Israelis, including two children, died prematurely. Meanwhile, Hamas has fired several thousand rockets, a large part of which they have been able to destroy in the skies of Israel. At least 2,000 buildings have been destroyed in Gaza by Israeli warplanes and bombs, including schools and hospitals, as well as 15,000 homes and more than 52,000 Palestinians. Many media offices, including Al Jazeera, were destroyed in the bombing.
Naturally, after the ceasefire, both Hamas and Israel have claimed victory. Israel claims it has largely eliminated Hamas’s military capabilities, although it did the same in 2014. Ismail Haniya, known as the main leader of Hamas, has claimed that Israel has been forced to offer a ceasefire and has not dared to send ground troops inside Gaza, and has claimed victory in the ceasefire.
Needless to say, this is not the first time this has happened and no one is willing to believe that this is the end. Earlier, in 2009, 2012 and 2014, Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire after similar destruction. In addition, rockets were fired from Gaza and Israeli bombardment continued in the evolution of time. In 2014, the Israeli ground forces conducted an operation in Gaza seven weeks apart but they did not gain much of an advantage.
This year’s opening chapter, however, did not begin with a rocket attack by Hamas. Sheikh Zarah Mahalla, a holy site in East Jerusalem, has been home to some Palestinian families and citizens for centuries. The conflict began with the goal of forcibly evicting them from Israeli forces and building settlements for themselves. The conflict began on May 3. Then, on May 8, Israeli police unnecessarily prevented Palestinians from attending the holy Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The extent of the conflict began to increase. The use of rockets and bombs against each other started on May 10 in this context.
All the reactions in the world were in the expected position during the conflict. The UN Secretary-General was deeply shocked by such a heinous Israeli airstrike. Similarly, some influential European countries have called for an end to the deportation of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and an end to torture.
US President Joe Biden is particularly known as a staunch supporter of Israel. Most surprisingly, he first stated that Israel had a right to self-defense in support of Israel. Later, however, he was forced to call for a ceasefire in the face of one criticism after another from the Liberals of the Democratic Party. On the other hand, it was not possible to take any practical decision at the emergency meeting of the OIC where Saudi Arabia, which represents the Muslim world, has fulfilled its responsibility only by condemning the Israeli aggression.
Despite the long delay in resolving the ongoing crisis, the UN Security Council is meeting to find an effective solution to the conflict. However, due to the tough stance of the United States, no decision could be taken there. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron took the initiative to end the conflict and discussed the issue in detail with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Mohammed. The Egyptian president is also said to have acted as chief envoy to the ongoing conflict.
The ceasefire is over. Now if the question is what then? Will this ongoing conflict lead to a lasting solution or will the whole world wait for the next round to begin? The question actually belongs to all of us. Everyone will agree in one sentence that Gaza is currently the most fragile prison in the world. Israel and Egypt have completely blocked the region, which has a population of 20,000. If such a horrible situation does not change now, then it is understandable for everyone that it is a matter of time to start another conflict.
Basically, after the ceasefire, the activities for the establishment of peace started naturally. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has already made a surprise visit to the Middle East to make the ceasefire effective. He also held brief talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Mohammed. Surprisingly, however, he only promised full financial support for the reconstruction of Gaza, in addition to expressing full support for Israel’s security. His speech, however, did not convey a long-term message of lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.
This time, however, a few surprising things have happened in the conflict. There have been sporadic clashes between Israeli Arabs and Jews in several places in Israel itself. Needless to say, one-fifth of Israel’s population is Arab. Israeli police, meanwhile, have in many places provided special assistance to radical Jewish youths in carrying out attacks on Israeli Arabs that the world has never seen before.
On the other hand, important Jewish personalities, organizations or the media in different parts of the world have not forgotten to condemn this heinous aggression of Israel. They want this problem to be solved on the basis of mutual equality and justice. In a progressive section of the Democratic Party in the United States, however, support for the Palestinian people has grown, albeit somewhat. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.
The Muslim-majority kings or presidents of the Middle East are really incapable of putting pressure on Israel by thinking of their own empires and family interests. Neither the Hamas rocket attacks nor the Palestinian authority, known as an ineffective West Bank state, will bring independence to Palestine. The support of Turkey, Iran and Europe may play a small role, but the main initiatives, plans and support for peace must come from the progressive Jewish population, especially from the younger generation. One such symptom has been seen during the recent conflict, but it is perhaps the most hopeful.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, issued a statement condemning the Israeli aggression. He has already written a letter to President Mahmoud Abbas expressing his full support for Palestine, but has raised concerns over the issue of Bangladesh’s passport. Naturally, in Bangladesh’s foreign policy, it was mentioned in the passport that travel is legal in all countries of the world except Israel, but recently it has been lifted. Such a controversial decision came into effect 6 months ago but came to the notice of the general public and the media this week.
There have been mixed reactions to why this controversial decision was taken with Israel. The Home Minister has already surprised everyone by arguing that it was necessary to do so in view of achieving global standards.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, however, said that our position on Israel had not changed at all and that our unwavering support for the Palestinian people remained the same. He further clarified that no citizen of Bangladesh will be allowed to enter Israel and disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who visits. But the debate is here, before that there was a clear provision in our passport that you can’t go to Israel, but now that the newly issued passport is legal to go to Israel, how do you stop someone from going to Israel with a legal passport? And how to punish him? Where is the law that is needed to punish? Do you have the answer?
In fact, the main thing is that no work is done without a specific cause. If traveling to Israel is punishable, then there is no need for this change. We can take Taiwan as an example for our Bangladesh. But Bangladesh has not recognized Taiwan and has no diplomatic relations. However, the issue is for trade and commerce but Bangladeshis have special contacts with Taiwan. The ongoing tension over the passport issue may soon subside and we believe that some Bangladeshis will then be able to travel to Israel on a regular basis for travel and business purposes without any penalties or problems arising.
The writer is a student of University of Rajshahi. E-mail: [email protected] The opinion expressed in this article is the writer’s own.