Israel has been continuously expanding its territories into Palestine illegally by displacing Palestinians. While occupying new lands, it also doesn’t hesitate to kill, torture or jail Palestinian people when they resist. When lands are “cleared” from Palestinians, it allows Jewish migrants to resettle on Palestinian lands. Besides resettlement, sometimes Israelis individually come and seize a Palestinian’s house with the help of Israeli police and kick the owner’s family out of the house.
It is through this continuous displacement and oppression of Palestinians by Israel that armed groups like Hamas emerged. For sure, if there weren’t Hamas, there would be another organization, as oppression compels people to self-defend themselves. One can question the legitimacy of self-defense when it happens on one’s land. Thus, for example, when someone tries to take your house, you can resist them and even use force if needed. Palestinians have done this until now, though there might have been excessive responses.
As for Israel, its violent actions that sometimes turn into genocide cannot be regarded as self-defense or an attempt to remove the threat to their existence. The United Nations granted the Israeli state to Jews despite Arabs’ opposition in 1948. After several wars between Arab states and Israel, which made the borders of Palestine and Israel controversial, the U.N. recognized the borders drawn for Palestine in 1967 as official lines shaping the state of Palestine.
Yet, Israel never accepted the mentioned borders and extended its territories into those of Palestine. Even now, Israel is establishing new settlements in the West Bank and trying to annex the whole of Gaza simultaneously. While doing that, it flattens cities, displaces people, drops bombs on civilians, or confiscates new lands. There is no legality in Israel’s actions as it ignores international laws.
As a response, Palestinians, from civilians to armed groups, resist the occupation and occasionally apply violence to save their lives and defend their lands. However, despite being the victim side, Palestinians’ resistance is still seen as illegal and armed groups like Hamas are enlisted as terrorist organizations by Western states. Contrary to their attitude toward Palestine, Western governments continuously express that Israel has the right to defend itself.
No, Israel does not have the right to defend itself if it is occupying someone else’s lands. It does not have the right to kill someone in occupied lands. When victims (Palestinians in our case) respond to Israel even in violent ways, they are right in their actions as they are the oppressed, the target, and above all, the righteous side. Besides, international law supports Palestine’s self-defense while making Israel’s actions illegal and criminal.
Israel’s war crimes
If international law means anything to Israel and its supporters, they should admit that Israel is absolutely guilty and cannot be supported. Besides not being helpful to whitewash Israel’s crimes, insistence on defending Israel with cliche words like “the right to defend itself” makes them complicit in Israel’s crimes, too. Therefore, more European and U.S. support means only partnership to Israel’s ongoing crimes, which have reached the genocide level.
The weird thing about Western states’ attitude is that they are the ones who crystallized international laws and treaties and established organizations and institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Nonetheless, when Israel bulldozed all West-made laws it encountered, instead of criticizing and sanctioning, the West remained silent or used the words they should have narrated for Palestine.
In other words, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, U.S. President Joe Biden or European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen should have said, “Palestine has the right to defend itself” as it was occupied and Israel was the occupier. Yet, they continued to defend Israel to defend itself while destroying Palestine. It seems that ethics and the rule of law do not fit the Western bloc’s foreign policy if they or their allies are wrongdoers.
Perhaps this is why U.S. officials refrain from saying international laws but “rules-based order” in their speeches. Thus, instead of complying with international regulations, they prefer to create or misinterpret alternative rules. We know that this obstinance to be on the wrong side emanates from power. However, the truth always wins against power, though it may take time. Hence, both Israel and the West will face the consequences of their brutal attitudes sooner or later.
Source: Daily Sabah