Opinion

Chris Donnelly: Peace can never be built on oppression and injustice

Chris Donnelly

Chris Donnelly

Chris is a political commentator with a keen eye for sport. He is principal of a Belfast primary school.

Palestinians look for survivors in buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah yesterday
Palestinians look for survivors in buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah yesterday Palestinians look for survivors in buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah yesterday

THE extent to which Israel’s strategy of dehumanising the Palestinian people has been a success can be measured in many ways.

Consider the existence of the Gaza ghetto, home to two million Palestinians hemmed in to what is effectively an open-air prison, where generations of displaced Palestinian families will be born and will die, their lifelong yearning for a better tomorrow destined to go unrealised.

Consider how the announcement that Israel was cutting off water, food, gas and electricity to residents of Gaza was not met with anything other than uncritical support from the most powerful leaders of the western world in spite all knowing the cost of such a wicked and draconian policy would be paid in human lives.

Then there is Israel’s maintenance of an apartheid regime, condemned by Nelson Mandela a quarter of a century ago when he declared his freedom was incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.

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In addition to the thousands slaughtered in Gaza, almost 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and illegal settlers since mid-September in the West Bank, with the violence predating Hamas’s attack.

Israeli soldiers are using live rounds to shoot Palestinian kids throwing stones at them. Whilst answering a question posed on this matter, the emotionless face of IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus breezily dismissed any concerns, proclaiming that Israel will not allow any room for such “nonsense” now.

 

The very existence of the hundreds of thousands of illegal Israeli settlers living on land stolen from Palestinians is a testament to the extreme right-wing mentality adhered to by those in charge, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, both illegal settlers themselves.

Back in February 2023, Israeli settlers murdered a Palestinian whilst launching “a pogrom” (the words of the Israeli military commander in the West Bank) against terrified local Palestinians in the village of Huwara, facilitated by the support of the Israeli Defence Forces. These malevolent forces are once again colluding to visit terror and death upon innocent Palestinians in the region.

The atrocity that was the Al Ahli hospital bombing was further compounded by Israel’s cynical denial of responsibility, a tactic they have reached for many times before when committing similar atrocities against Palestinian civilians.

Up to last Thursday, there had been 115 attacks on healthcare facilities in Palestine by Israel since October 7, according to the World Health Organisation. More than 20 hospitals in Gaza had received evacuation orders by the Israeli military. Neither churches, schools nor hospitals provide safety from missiles borne of intolerance and contempt.

Israel has continued to bombard the Gaza Strip
Israel has continued to bombard the Gaza Strip Israel has continued to bombard the Gaza Strip

Of course, it is true that Israelis suffered an horrific atrocity at the hands of Hamas on October 7, and the grieving of families in Israel differs in no way from that of Palestinians, who have suffered in much greater numbers over a much longer period of time.

Consider Atef Mohamed Dabour, one of the children slain by Israel’s shock and awe assault upon the innocent of Gaza. An avid football fan, Atef visited Ireland with his football team in 2016 and 2017 and met with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, one of the few world leaders to emerge with reputation enhanced following his brave stance in defence of those facing the Israeli onslaught.

Meanwhile, the DUP’s Jim Shannon has called for the ‘liquidation’ of Hamas, the largest political party in the Gaza Strip. If the basis for Jim’s plea for mass murder was the fact Hamas-related militants had committed outrageous atrocities by targeting Israeli civilians earlier this month, then logically liquidation must await the Israeli political leadership and defence forces, who collectively have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of atrocities and taking of innocent life in the region both this month and over the past 15 years.

But the most breath-taking and disturbing accomplishment secured by those championing Israel’s cause has been to render the existence of Palestinians as being unworthy of acknowledgement, either in life or in death.

Whilst they may take satisfaction from their absolute military and political supremacy, history tells us peace can never be built on a foundation of oppression and injustice.