- Development & Aid
- Economy & Trade
- Human Rights
- Global Governance
- Civil Society
Friday, March 1, 2024
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 18 2023 (IPS) - The unrestrained destruction of Gaza and the disproportionate killings of over 17,000, mostly civilians– in retaliation for 1,200 killings by Hamas and 120 hostages in captivity– have left the Palestinians in a state of deep isolation and weighed down by a feeling of being deserted by the world at large.
The United Nations and the international community have remained helpless– with UN resolutions having no impact– while American pleas for restrained aerial bombings continue to be ignored by the Israelis in an act of defiance.
The plight of the Palestinians was best described by Middle East correspondent Raja Abdulrahim who was quoted in the New York Times last week as saying: “Some people have told me they would rather just have a nuclear bomb (drop) and take them all out because the situation has gotten so desperate– and they don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
“They also feel like the entire world has abandoned them.”
Co-incidentally, a junior minister last month proposed dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza as “one way of dealing with the threat of Hamas.” But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instantly shot down the proposal and took the unusual step of suspending the politically far-right minister.
Perhaps Netanyahu was conscious of the fact– that even in an unlikely nuclear attack on Gaza — the fallout, described as potentially suicidal, will be equally disastrous on Israel and end up as an act of self-immolation.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu last week reportedly justified the killings of civilians and the virtual destruction of Gaza by pointing an accusing finger at the United States.
The devastation of Gaza, he says, was no better than the “carpet bombing” of Germany by the US in 1943 and the unleashing of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
And US President Joe Biden, an unrelenting ally of Israel, shot back: “Yeah, that’s why all these institutions were set up after World War II, to see to it that it didn’t happen again”.
The United Nations, created in 1945 following the devastation caused by World War II, was mandated with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security.
But other international institutions, including the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arrived much later.
Dr Alon Ben-Meir, (PhD, Oxford University), a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, who taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies, told IPS for Prime Minister Netanyahu to equate the bombing of Gaza to the “carpet bombing” of Germany and the dropping of atomic weapons on Japan is, at best, as preposterous as one can imagine.
Although President Biden himself did not justify the dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan, he pointed out, the circumstances at the time were completely different than the current situation in Gaza.
Furthermore, attitudes and views have greatly changed since then, particularly because of the bombings’ aftermath.
Dr Ben-Meir said President Truman was faced with a dilemma – to launch a full-scale ground invasion of Japan, whose soldiers were fighting to the death, which could result in the death of 5-10 million Japanese and hundreds of thousands of Allied troops.
Or use nuclear weapons that would result in the death of 200,000 Japanese, civilians and soldiers alike, but would end the war quickly and spare casualties on a massive scale, thinking it was better to sacrifice 200,000 lives to save 1 million more, he pointed out.
On that basis, Truman made the decision, albeit in today’s environment, that decision would be entirely different. Furthermore, Truman may not have even been fully aware of the bomb’s true devastating nature and initially believed that it was intended specifically for a military target.
In hindsight, said Dr Ben-Meir, the use of nuclear weapons is unthinkable under any, and all, circumstances, as President Biden stated, “That’s why all these institutions were set up after World War Two to see to it that it didn’t happen again.”
As to the “carpet bombings” of Germany, while there were a few instances of cities being bombed wholesale, most notably Dresden, for the most part, American and Allied troops carried out strategic bombings, targeting as much as possible specific military installations and other industrial targets supporting Germany’s war efforts, he argued.
Furthermore, as Biden noted, the actions of all powers during World War II came under serious criticism and evaluation, and institutions and treaties were established in the war’s aftermath to prevent these wholesale actions that greatly affected civilians, whether intentionally or not, from happening again.
“There’s no question that Israel has been steadily losing international support due to the rise of Palestinian casualties, which has now exceeded 17,000. The irony is because of this terrible heavy toll of casualties, the unthinkable slaughter of 1,200 Israelis is no longer being mentioned, and this is due to Netanyahu’s complete disregard, in my view, for the indiscriminate horror that is being inflicted on Gaza”.
He should be far more calculating in targeting Hamas to prevent the unnecessary death of civilians, which is only drawing ever more criticism of Israel’s war tactics.
“Israel will certainly win the war against Hamas, but it is as certain that it will continue to lose the support even of its closest allies and friends unless Israel takes extraordinary measures to protect civilian lives in Gaza while articulating an exit strategy consistent with a two-state solution to end the conflict,” declared Dr Ben-Meir.
IPS UN Bureau Report
IPS is an international communication institution with a global news agency at its core,raising the voices of the South
and civil society on issues of development, globalisation, human rights and the environment
Copyright © 2024 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. - Terms & Conditions
You have the Power to Make a Difference
Would you consider a $20.00 contribution today that will help to keep the IPS news wire active? Your contribution will make a huge difference.