Some Malaysians may think that the suffering of the Palestinians is the result of the unwise actions of the Hamas forces in Gaza, who had launched the earlier attack.
Prof Mohd Nazari Ismail,
Hashim Sani Center for Palestinian Studies, University of Malaya
On October 7, 2023, Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement, carried out a daring attack on Israel and succeeded in killing hundreds of Israeli soldiers and kidnapping tens of others. They have also succeeded in destroying Israeli assets, including military bases and police stations.
The Israeli Zionist regime has responded by bombing Gaza. The bombing has claimed over 300 innocent Palestinian lives, including children and women, and destroyed scores of buildings, houses, and offices.
Some Malaysians may think that the suffering of the Palestinians is the result of the unwise actions of the Hamas forces in Gaza, who had launched the earlier attack. They may feel that all this could have been avoided if Hamas did not provoke Israel in the first place.
Anyone with such a view needs to realise the shallowness of their understanding of what is happening in Palestine. The most important fact that they need to realize is that Israel is an illegal country. As explained by a Jewish historian from Israel named Prof. Ilan Pappe in his famous book `The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’, the existence of Israel in 1948 was the result of the actions of the Zionist Jewish group that had come from Europe to the land of Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century and beyond have carried out acts of ethnic cleansing involving the crime of mass murder as well as the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their hometowns.
As a result of these actions, more than 750 thousand Palestinians have become refugees and have not been allowed to return to their homeland until now, even though this is their inalienable right under Resolution 194 of the United Nations (UN) approved in 1948.
Moreover, this group of Zionist criminals continued to terrorize the Palestinians. In 1967, they succeeded in seizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Although the international community does not recognize the West Bank as part of Israel, the Israeli government continues to open settlements or cities for Jews only on lands seized from Palestinians. Many Palestinian olive groves have also been seized by Zionist Jewish immigrants with the help of the Israeli army.
Most of the West Bank now (called Area C) is under the full authority of the Israeli army, thus allowing them to control the movement of Palestinians by creating hundreds of roadblocks. Palestinians are prevented and blocked from moving freely within their own country to work, tend their olive groves, go to school or hospital or visit family members.
Since the re-appointment of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister in December 2022 with the support of the Zionist extremist factions, the Israeli government has become increasingly unafraid to reveal its true agenda since establishing the illegal state of Israel. The agenda is to ensure that all Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are one hundred percent under their control. The Palestinians in the West Bank will be driven out, and illegal Jewish settlers will take over their land.
Before this, they also seized the houses of dozens of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem next to the Al Aqsa Mosque. They have also tried to dissuade Palestinians from performing iktikaf at the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan and instead allow Zionist extremist groups to celebrate “Jerusalem Day” which is an annual ceremony commemorating their success in seizing Jerusalem from the Palestinian people. Some Israeli leaders have also revealed their plan to demolish the Al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple called Haikal Sulaiman.
Israel has been blockading the Gaza Strip since 2006, thus making it a prison for Palestinians living there. The purpose of doing this is so that the population of more than 2 million in the area will not dare to challenge Israel.
In other words, this group of Zionist criminals will not stop committing human rights violations against the Palestinians until all the Palestinian land is in their possession, the Palestinians are all driven out, and the Palestinian identity is eliminated.
In that situation, the Palestinians do not have much choice. They either move to another country or live as sub-human beings who are humiliated in their land, and finally, their identity is eliminated directly.
Fortunately, many Palestinians have a high sense of identity. They will not succumb to the efforts of foreign settler-colonialists to continue to seize all their land, violate their fundamental rights, and desecrate the holy Al Aqsa Mosque. The most prominent among the Palestinians who oppose Israel is the Hamas group. From the beginning of its existence in the 1980s, Hamas rejected pressure from all sides to recognize Israel as a legitimate country.
Hamas also maintains that it is their responsibility as Muslims to oppose the colonization of their country by foreigners by any means, including military means. Many Islamic scholars consider the struggle of Hamas to free the Palestinian state from the occupation by the Zionists as a valid and praiseworthy struggle (jihad) and that if they die in the struggle, their death is considered a `martyr’.
It is on that basis that Hamas has warned Israel to stop cruel crimes against Palestinians that are becoming more and more serious, such as seizing Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district, confiscating Palestinian land in the West Bank, killing innocent Palestinians, imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, as well as violating the sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Nevertheless, since Israel continues to commit these crimes, Hamas has no choice but to attack Israel by using rockets that they built with their own hands and carry out attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory adjacent to Gaza by tearing down the separation fence between Israel and Gaza, as well as by sea and air.
Of course, they know the risk of Israel’s retaliation. Many of their members may die. However, it is inevitable for Hamas because they will never shirk from the noble responsibility of opposing the enemy who wants to seize their homeland and eliminate the Palestinian Muslim community.
In conclusion, the misery experienced by the Palestinian people is a misery that is not of their choosing. It is a misery that has been forced upon them by the Zionist criminals who came from Europe and their children, who, to this day, are trying to expel the Palestinians and eliminate the remnants of the Palestinian community’s identity in their own country. Settler-colonial Zionists from Europe and elsewhere will continue to commit atrocities against the Palestinian people in the future. The most terrible thing is that the Western powers are blatantly complicit with Israeli tyranny over the Palestinians. At the same time, the world community continues to watch and do nothing.
The question is, what is the reaction of all of us to the cruel crime that is happening before our eyes right now? Do we want to be passive spectators who express our sadness at what happened, or do we want to be defenders of the oppressed fighting a noble cause for freedom, justice, and equality?
Prof. Mohd Nazari Ismail (Phd.) is the Director of the Hashim Sani Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Malaya.