By Anupriya Singh
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Assoicate Editor, The Indian Economist
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and essayist
As the Gaza emergency enters its fourth week and the Palestinian civilian casualty toll continues to rise, it is disheartening to know that there seems to be little understanding between the two parties-Israel and Gaza. With the ‘Gaza war’ escalating each day, more than 1,000 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers have been killed so far. The conflict that began with the killing of three members of Islamic Jihad on 11 March 2014 by Israel in a border clash, followed by retaliation by the group, rumoured to be aided by Hamas, has become a global concern.
Both sides say they want an end to the war but neither of them presses for peace. While Hamas, and Islamic Jihad likewise, claim that through the war, they aim to show the world that in the face of adversity, Gaza would not remain dormant, Israel believes that the Israeli militants are retaliating against the troops that have struck it. And not to forget, the United States sees it as an opportunity for US led Israeli-Palestinian peace talk. While everyone is trying to make some ‘use’ of the war, it is the civilians who suffer the worst.
The Gazans are facing a downward spiral. Each day, air strikes are taking down public infrastructure and services such as hospitals, residential buildings, schools, power plant and much more. 44% of Gaza territory, a 3 km strip has been declared a ‘Buffer Zone’ by Israeli military. More than 115,000 Palestinians have been displaced and are living in 80 UNRWA schools. Electricity, fuel and housing continue to be the Gaza strip inhabitants’ major concern. The situation is quite different on the other side of the border. Promiscuous firing by Gazan Palestinian armed forces into Israel continue, though most of them hit uninhabited land or get blocked by the Iron Dome System, resulting in no Israeli casualties. So far Israel has not incurred any sort of large scale damage, at least not anything compared to what the Palestinians have witnessed.
Neither of the two sides can be supported, both are equally at fault. Even before 11 March 2014, the situation was no good but at least back then there existed a friable equilibrium between the two parties which assured a ‘relatively peaceful’ life for the civilians.
Now that the November 2012 ceasefire has been disavowed by both sides, negotiating a new ceasefire is not an option and implementing the old one would be utopian. To work out a peaceful solution, the Israelis and the Palestinians need to step out of their comfort zones and take heed of views and issues they previously disagreed with. It is not Israelis killing Palestinians or Palestinians killing Israelis. It is humans killing humans. The sooner they realize this, the better. What we, as the global citizens, know is that merely talking of peace will not work, but believing in it and working at it, will.
So let’s keep our faith alive and say, “Shalom Achshav” or “Peace now”.
Anupriya is a second year undergraduate student in Economics at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. An avid reader, she wants to travel across India to comprehend the varied façade of the Indian culture and traditions. Apart from academics, Anupriya has also dabbled in extracurricular activities like debate and documentary making. She has won numerous awards for her documentaries on social issues. Sports, primarily football, and painting constitute her main interests.