WITH the Israel-Palestine conflict entering the second week, 57 nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met on Sunday to address the escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has claimed a vast number of civilian casualties. On Saturday, Israeli air raids flattened a Gaza building housing Aljazeera and other media offices. The current flare-up began a month before when Israeli police acted against Palestinians protesting home evictions and the denial to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The clashes soon led to communal clashes in Israel’s mixed cities with Jewish and Muslim population and escalated into cross-border fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. Israel has been merciless in its bombardment of Palestine areas as the razing of Al-Jazeera building makes it clear. Indian journalist bodies including the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Sunday strongly condemned the “brazen” Israeli airstrikes on the building housing the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other news media outlets. The OIC meeting is the first international effort to address the conflict. The United Nations chief Antonio Gutteres has warned of an “uncontainable crisis” and called for an immediate stop to the “senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror and destruction”.
There has also been anger in Kashmir leading to protests in some areas. Police in several cases have taken action against the protesters, in one case, booking an artist who had made a mural in support of Palestine. This, at a time, when people all over the world are registering their protest against Israeli aggression and the loss of Palestinian lives.
It remains to be seen how soon the growing international diplomatic effort will influence the two parties to end the latest round of hostilities. Most Arab countries support an independent Palestinian state, at least verbally. But after the recent recognition deals with several OIC members, Israel can hope for a subdued condemnation.
Once again, the biggest loser in the ongoing conflict has been the image of the US. It has stayed short of asking Israel to stop the use of disproportionate force. The US, which had the power and influence to broker a peace between Israel and Palestine has already dented its credibility to act as an honest mediator, perhaps irreparably so, by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The brutal massacre of Palestinians has only put in sharper relief the Muslim haplessness. There is no way this bloodshed will stop if the Palestinians don’t get justice. And that is unlikely to happen if the world of Islam remains powerless and divided. Massacre of Palestinians is one more wake-up call for the Muslim world to reflect over its weakness and seek to address the causes responsible for it.
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