‘But I am to blame: I shot a rocket !’ | By M Ziauddin


‘But I am to blame: I shot a rocket !’

ISRAEL is an artificially crafted country of non-Arabs by the British in the heart of the Arab world —Palestine—, using political skulduggery of the worst kind, and armed to teeth by the Americans subsequently with the most sophisticated weapon systems.

It struck on Monday once again with full force its periodically umpteen attempt over the last 72 years at forcibly evicting the remaining Arab population from Palestine to make way for the continuing waves of Zionist settlers trickling into the Arab land from all over the world.

A one-state solution to the complete exclusion of the two-state resolution as mandated by the UN and agreed by Egypt and the Israelis at the Camp David in 1973 following the 1967 six-day war.

Israel came into being as a result of the infamous Balfour Declaration announcing in 1917 British support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population.

This support to the illegitimate birth of Israel in Arab land was in fact a callous move by the British to enlist the support of Jews in the then wider world war—the First one.

The term “national home” was kept intentionally vague as to whether a Jewish state was contemplated.

The British government later confirmed that the words “in Palestine” meant that the Jewish national home was not intended to cover all of Palestine.

The second half of the declaration had called for safeguarding the civil and religious rights for the Palestinian Arabs, who composed the vast majority of the local population.

The British government recognized in 2017 that the declaration should have called for protection of the Palestinian Arabs’ political rights.

As a result, it is considered a principal cause of the ‘forever’ Israeli–Palestinian conflict, often described as the world’s most intractable conflict.

The American complicity in the immoral act of colossal proportion began almost at the fag-end of the Second World War as Washington weaponized Israel-in –the- making turning it into an armed US forward post to militarily protect and preserve its captured oil wealth in the Middle East.

The UNSC has expressed “grave concern” over the escalation of violence “in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem” and called on Israel to “cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions.”

It voiced “serious concern over the possible evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations.”

Tensions between Israeli security forces and Palestinians spiked last month, when Israel closed the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem, which is widely considered the heart of Palestinian life in the city.

Israeli forces fired into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem—one of the holiest sites in Islam—during a Ramadan prayer.

The protest demonstrations, in which Israeli riot police had repeatedly targeted Palestinians, have been driven by anger over the looming evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem to make room for Israeli settlers, though a last-minute legal appeal by Palestinian families ultimately postponed the move for at least a few weeks.

The clash came on Jerusalem Day, when Israel traditionally marks its 1967 capture of the city.

Since Monday, Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets at Israel—including at the usually spared cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv—while Israel has retaliated with devastating airstrikes on Gaza.

An alarmed UN has warned of the possibility of “all- out war” in the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas as the death toll climbed to hundreds.

World leaders urged both sides to pull back from the edge and Joe Biden backed Israel and said he was hopeful the trading of airstrikes and rocket fire would end soon, following a phone call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

“My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself,” Mr. Biden told reporters after the call.

It seems to have become the first major crisis test for the Biden administration’s foreign-policy team, which is focused on trying to pivot the US toward confronting China on the global stage after decades of involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts.

Some are worried that the burgeoning conflict could jeopardize the Biden administration’s hopes to extend the Trump-era Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states.

Earlier, Israeli PM Mr. Netanyahu said his country would inflict blows on Hamas “that they couldn’t even dream of”.

Benny Gintz, the Israeli defense minister, said his country was not preparing for a ceasefire and would stop military action only when it had achieved “complete quiet”.

With right-wing Jewish Israelis now poised to replace dozens of Palestinian residents in the coming months, there is a tangible sense that the painful, invisible border that divides Jerusalem now runs straight through Sheikh Jarrah.

According to the Association for Human Rights in Israel, around 358,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, the portion of the city captured by Israel from Jordan in 1967, where they have residency rights but generally not Israeli citizenship.

The same area is home to 225,000 Jewish Israelis, most of whom reside in newer Jewish neighbourhoods.

The evictions are based in part on a doubtful 1970 Israeli law that allows Jews to “reclaim” East Jerusalem land “owned by Jews before 1948”.

But no similar law exists for Palestinians who lost their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war and fled to what was then Jordanian-controlled territory.

Moreover, most Jews moving into Sheikh Jarrah are motivated by ideology, not through a familial connection to the homes.

The so-called free media of the so-called free world uses the term ‘militants’ when they talk about Palestinian defenders as against their use of the term ‘defenders’ when talking about Israelis who carry out air raids against the Palestinians punishing them for firing almost harmless rockets in defence.

Noam Chomsky, the renowned American intellectual, in one of his write-ups about the ‘forever conflict’ had quoted a Palestinian farmer saying rather forlornly: You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all, but I am to blame: I shot a rocket!

— The writer is veteran journalist and a former editor based in Islamabad.

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