The Israel-Hamas War, the United Nations and World Conscience
"Stop the war now," "stop the genocidal aid" slogans were repeatedly chanted by anti-war protesters during US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's Senate hearing on aid to Israel on November 1. The incident is very important, although there are protests on behalf of the Palestinians all over the world, but the protest inside the US Senate is undoubtedly of particular significance. One thing that appears here is that people are protesting, demanding an end to the war, but some powerful governments or states are supporting Israel. Some countries are acting as silent spectators.
The ground war has begun exceeding all levels of cruelty. A UN human rights director has resigned over Israel's failure to stop brutality and genocide. Gaza and Palestinians living in Gaza have been fleeing since October 7, amid continuous bombardment and widespread destruction. Already Gaza has been turned into a hell. Gaza, which used to be called an open prison, has now turned into a hell because of constant Israeli attacks, constant bombardment from which mosques, hospitals, educational institutions, localities have not been spared. The world is witnessing a demonic barbaric brazen attack, brazen military operation. More than 9,000 people have already been killed, most of whom are children and women. The entire infrastructure has been destroyed. There have been attacks on refugee camps where people have taken shelter to survive. Millions of people in Gaza City are displaced, destitute and without direction.
The attack by Hamas forces, which the UN Secretary-General called an "attack against Israel" did not take place in a vacuum. There is no way to isolate that attack. Because for the last 75 years the people who have been driven from their own land, uprooted, where the Palestinians have been living in their own land for hundreds of years, the establishment of a new state and the expulsion of those people and their continued 75 years of a stateless, oppressed- If the protests and resistance attacks of people living as oppressed refugees are seen in this way, it is dangerous and this is what the Secretary General of the United Nations has tried to say. Certainly no killing of civilians or any use of force is acceptable. The world is witnessing how terrible the attack of a strong military force like Israel can be, how vengeful it can be, in contrast to the armed attack of Hamas.
War is not an unreal thing, war has happened, war is happening and war will never stop completely. But there are laws in war, conscience works in war, rules in war. At least at the end of the 21st century, after singing so many victory songs of human civilization, the empty words of humanity, human rights and democracy stopped for Israel. With the direct and indirect support of those who talk about human rights and civilization, a state like Israel continues this cruel destruction in the name of its security and self-defense. That is why we are seeing a storm of protests around the world. The United Nations is the place of people's trust in protecting against the attack of any aggressor state, violating any kind of international law and stopping genocide. What is the United Nations doing when Israel is continuously bombarding Gaza, nearly all of the 23 lakh settlements are being displaced, fleeing for their lives, children are being killed. What will happen to the whole world if other countries of the world follow this kind of genocide in the name of wiping out the rival power Hamas?
The role of the United Nations in such a humanitarian situation is very significant. The issue has been repeatedly discussed in the UN Security Council. So far 4 activities have been seen but none of the proposals have been accepted. Rather, it has been seen that ceasefire proposals by Russia and China have been repeatedly vetoed and the kind of proposals that the United States and Israel have put in the UN Security Council are not acceptable in any way. Because what is most needed right now is a cessation of hostilities and a decision for humanity.
Such naked use of military power is unimaginable in any country or society in the world. Medieval and colonial oppression has also faded. The proposals from Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates were quite weighty. Those resolutions were vetoed by the UN Security Council and overturned. As a result, the UN Security Council is effectively divided, a reflection of the past. As we have seen in the past, the establishment of a Palestinian state has been repeatedly vetoed with the UN support and Security Council approval required to create this situation today. The world conscience is passing through a difficult time and a comfort zone in this regard is the United Nations General Assembly. Taking into account the terrible attacks, bombings and indiscriminate killings by Israel, the General Assembly convened an emergency meeting and discussed extensively. Accept an offer after bargaining. A ceasefire for humanity resolution was adopted calling for an end to military conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The voting pattern of the 193-member UN General Assembly shows that 120 countries voted in favor of the ceasefire resolution. 40 led by Jordan. The number of states opposing the proposal with the country's support is 14. On the other hand, 45 states abstained from voting. The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations called the cease-fire proposal a courageous and morally strong effort on the part of the General Assembly, an effort that is undoubtedly positive. Although this proposal was opposed by Israel, some of its allies including the United States. The main objective of the proposal is to comply with the legal and humanitarian obligations of civilians living in Gaza and attacks there. This proposal is undoubtedly very important. Because the United Nations is one of the centers of world consciousness. Especially the UN General Security Council. The resolution includes a humanitarian ceasefire, the protection of civilians and calls on any aggressor to comply with their legal and humanitarian obligations.
Israel's efforts to turn Gaza into total ruins since October 7 have been largely successful. Yet this is the UN's attempt to protect what remains. We see a move to thwart that attempt as well. Several other states directly opposed the United States, such as Austria, Croatia, Fiji, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tonga, and Nauru. Many small island states, which should be the first to step in in such humanitarian situations, have opposed a humanitarian proposal by a superpower for geopolitical reasons. This is undoubtedly extremely frustrating. Israel has supported this bombing in the Far East.
Even more surprising is that the number of states that abstained from voting on the resolution was 45. As unimaginable and unexpected as it is to oppose such a proposal, it is undoubtedly painful to abstain from it. This refrain is not new either. We know that a diplomatic consideration is at work here too, perhaps to refrain from considering them. The location is important for both parties. Surprisingly, some of the countries that abstained were in the past pro-Palestinian, pro-humanity. Countries that have a moral stance against the kind of aggression that Israel has been conducting since 1948 through constant torture, oppression, war and various other atrocities tried to refrain from this proposal. Among the states that have abstained are India, Iraq, South Sudan, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Germany, Netherlands and Italy. Although these countries expressed some kind of apprehension about Israel's attack, they may have refrained for diplomatic reasons especially India.
The fact that countries like Iraq and Ethiopia abstained from this proposal is undoubtedly surprising.
On the other hand, several countries in the developed world have come forward in this kind of situation. There are several states that have demonstrated effective humanitarian values in stopping Israel's continued aggressive behavior and have undoubtedly fulfilled their international obligations. These countries are Belgium, Belarus, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Niger. , Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam , a large number of states voted in favor of the resolution, including Yemen and Zimbabwe. It is clear that the number of people who oppose the proposal is very limited and there are a few powerful states, apart from some island states that have voted largely to depend on the powerful state.
Indeed the world conscience is awake. That conscience has given its clear verdict through this resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. 120 countries have called for an immediate humanitarian end to Israel's barbaric bombings and war. This is undoubtedly a very brave step on the part of the United Nations. Because Israel has attacked in the past, the Gaza crisis has also been created in the past. Israel has invaded monopolistically; the people of Gaza have seen it, continue to endure. This time Israel continues to aggressively attack with all its might and with the military and diplomatic support of its allies. Israel is in a strong position. This attack is worse than any time in the past. This war is so unequal that the Palestinians, that is, the State of Palestine, is not even fighting here, the State of Palestine is absent here and is carrying out this indiscriminate massacre of these 23 lakh people of Gaza in the name of killing Hamas. This cannot be found as an example in the history of the world. Undoubtedly, medieval barbarism was also defeated. In this situation, the conscience of millions of protestors in the world is the only hope of the Palestinians.
Author: Professor of International Relations Department of Dhaka University and expert in foreign policy and international affairs.