By Justice Markandey Katju–
(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)
Hostilities are going on between Israel and Hamas. They started on the morning of 7th October with Hamas launching an attack called ‘Al Aqsa Flood’, firing 5000 rockets into Israeli territory. Simultaneously, around 1,000 Palestinian militants infiltrated Israel from Gaza using trucks, motorcycles, bulldozers, speedboats and paragliders, taking the Israeli government and people completely by surprise. Sometime thereafter, Israel launched a counter attack on the Gaza strip, causing heavy civilian casualties and property damage.
How does one explain all of this? Many people, particularly in Western countries, have thrown all the blame on Hamas, calling them savages and demonising them, and calling for their complete destruction.
This is an oversimplification.
To understand the events properly we must first acknowledge the historical context. These articles explain what is Israel and why it was created.
Many people say that creation of Israel as a Jewish state was necessary to give Jews a homeland after they suffered the horrific and deadly Holocaust under the Adolf Hitler-led Nazis. Millions were killed, almost obliterating the entire Jewish population in Europe.
However, as explained in the above articles, these atrocities were not committed by Arabs but by Germans and their collaborators in other European countries. Why should Arabs be punished and driven out of their homes for the fault of Europeans?
The real reason for creating Israel was that in the first half of the 20th century it was discovered that there were huge deposits of oil in the Middle East. These were crucial for the developing Western industry.
Therefore, Israel was created as a military garrison and a Western armed outpost for ensuring the safety of oil supplies from the region, and this entailed driving out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, and killing and terrorizing many.
Many people, particularly in Western countries, are calling for total elimination of Palestinian Arabs, which implies women and children too. But they do not go deeper and try to understand what motivated Hamas in launching the attack.
In reality, this was a result of decades of horrible oppression and atrocities on Palestinians by Israeli forces.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion (every action has an equal and opposite reaction) applies equally to human affairs. Wherever there is oppression there will be resistance.
The sudden attack by Hamas was obviously well-planned, and reminds one of the well-known Tet offensive in South Vietnam in January 1968, which caught the American occupying forces completely off-guard, and was a complete failure of US intelligence, just as the Hamas attack was a complete failure of Israeli intelligence.
Many people call Hamas savages, and regard people living in Gaza as animals. It is probably true that Hamas soldiers may have committed some atrocities in Israel. But this was only a reaction to over 75 years terrible oppression and atrocities on Palestinians committed by Israelis, backed by some Western powers.
The Hamas militants who entered Israel knew they were going on a suicide mission, like the Japanese Kamikaze pilots towards the end of World War II. Yet they did not flinch from their mission, with their anger pent up over decades seeing the atrocities on their people.
What about the retaliatory killing by Israelis of thousands of people, including women and children living in Gaza, by the Israeli forces, which was, and still is continuing, several times worse than the Hamas attack? Entire apartment complexes with their occupants are being obliterated, and food, water and electricity are cut off, and the two million people of Gaza being effectively blockaded and deprived of subsistence.
Before Israel was created, 90 per cent of the people living there were Arabs. Later, most of them fled in fear, leaving their homes behind, after many were killed by Israelis, and most of them are still living in horrible conditions in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon.
There will never be peace in the region until justice is done to them, and they are adequately rehabilitated.
A selective campaign has been launched by Western political leaders, including US President Biden, as well as the Western media, blaming Hamas for all that has happened, calling them vicious animals. It is time now to know the whole story and the truth.