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Israeli aggression and role of OIC

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

Last week, Israel committed naked aggression against the innocent Palestinians at the most sacred place in Jerusalem, the Masjid Al-Aqsa where hundreds of Muslim worshippers were subjected to indiscriminate firing while they were busy in offering prayers. This is an act of sheer savagery and brutality that goes against all humanitarian norms and human rights laws. The gory incident was a repeat of 2014 Israel war spanning over several weeks which killed over 2,000 innocent Palestinians and destroyed huge infrastructure thus causing a massive collateral damage. In the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has killed around 200 Palestinians in Gaza with thousands injured, Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling razed most of the massive high-rise buildings in central Gaza city.

The aggression has met with wide condemnation across the globe except the US, Germany and Britain. Protest demonstrations have been held in different cities of both the Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike over the killing spree and gross human rights violations by Israel. What is more shocking is to see just a symbolic reaction shown by the Muslim leaders as their response so far has been rhetorical only with little action. Backed by the US, Israel has loosened the reins of terror in Palestine. Indiscriminate aerial strikes and heavy artillery shelling have killed hundreds of Palestinians including women and children and reduced their houses into rubble. This is an act of genocide by Israel backed by the US.
Before getting into detailed analytical deliberation, I would like to give a brief chronological rundown of Palestinian issue to make it easier for the readers to comprehend the true nature of the conflict.

Islam today is a major religion in Palestine. Muslims make 85% of population of the West Bank, and 99% of the population of Gaza Strip. Islam was brought to the region of Palestine during the early Muslim conquest of the 7th century when the Muslim army under the leadership of the second caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar Ibn al-Khattab defeated the armies of Persia and the armies of the Byzantine Empire more commonly known as the Roman Empire, the two super powers of that time, and conquered Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Spain. The Muslim army under the leadership of Caliph Umar (RA) conquered Jerusalem in 636 which was held by the Byzantine Romans. It’s pertinent to mention here that Jerusalem is dearest to the Muslims because this is the third holiest city after Makka and Madina. It’s important to know that Palestine has remained under Muslim rule right from 636-1917 when the British defeated the Ottomans and took over Palestine thus establishing a non-Muslim rule over Palestine.

During the 9th century, Byzantine Empire tried to recapture Palestine and other territories previously lost to the Muslims including Jerusalem during the reign of caliph Umar, the second caliph of Islam. In 1099, the Christian Crusaders, with the support of the Roman Catholic Church, launched the first Crusade campaign with the aim of regaining control of Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate. During the campaign, the Crusaders launched an assault on Jerusalem, captured it in the mid of 1099 and established the first Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusaders transformed the Masjid Al-Aqsa into the “Hall of Solomon”. During this era, unfortunately, the rest of the Muslim world looked upon the setback in Jerusalem with total indifference. In 1187, Sultan Salah ud- Din Ayyubi reconquered Jerusalem and several other Crusader-held cities. The Christian defeat led yet to another Crusade. Richard 1 of England launched a siege upon Jerusalem but soon withdrew without conquering it. Salah ud-Din Ayyubi and Richard 1 of England signed a treaty in 1192. Under the terms of the agreement, Jerusalem remained under Muslim control but the city was open to Christian pilgrims. In 1250, the Ayyubid Egyptian dynasty was overthrown by Slave (Mamluk) dynasty. The Mamluks completed the Muslim victory by sweeping the last of the Crusaders out of Palestine. Mamluks ruled Palestine for the following two centuries (1291-1516). In August 1516, the Ottomans defeated the Mamluks thus becoming the new rulers of Palestine. The Ottoman Turks ruled Palestine for almost 400 years.

In 1917, at the end of First World War, the British Empire conquered Palestine ending the rule of Ottoman Empire. Thus, the British occupation of Palestine brought the hundreds of years of successive Muslim rule of Palestine to an end. Henceforth, there has been a gradual increase in the number of Jews in the region, and Zionism, the ideology advocating the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine started taking roots in the region.

On May 14, 1948, just one day before the end of British rule of Palestine, the Jewish community in Palestine led by David Ben-Gurion, made a declaration of independence, and the state of Israel was established. This led to the 1948 Arab-Israel War involving Israel and five Arab nations — Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. At the end of war, in July 1949, Israel controlled more than two-third of Palestine. So the history of Israel-Palestine conflict can be traced back to 1948. The conflict continues unabated to the present day.

In 1967, an all out war erupted between Israel and Arab countries which resulted in major land gains for Israel. By the end of the war, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on with varying intensity. In 2017, leaders of Hamas presented a document that proposed the formation of a Palestinian state using the 1967 defined borders, with Jerusalem as its capital which the Israeli government promptly rejected. In May 2018, the US shifted its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which was a signal of American support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to which Palestinians responded with intense protests throughout Palestine.

The recent foreign ministers conference of OIC has adopted a resolution that is more of a conventional and customary nature condemning the Israeli aggression. Such meaningless resolutions have been adopted in the past too. Unfortunately, this time too like in the past, the OIC has failed to come up with any concrete line of action. This time around it was expected that the conference would urge the Muslim countries in categorical terms to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel until it stops aggression against the Palestinians. This is the only effective weapon to bring Israel to its knees. But unfortunately, to the much dismay of the Palestinians, the conference concluded with mere condemnatory rhetoric and failed to take any concrete line of action because the Arab countries don’t have the guts to take such a bold step as their personal and national interests which are inextricably linked with Israel and with the West, come first and the Palestinian cause and the interests of the Umma (Muslim community) come last. Every Arab country has its own axe to grind and wants to maintain covert and overt cordial relations with Israel in order to save its own skin. They have a scant realization that it will not take much time for Israel to turn its guns towards them once it deals with Palestinian issue successfully.

How ironical it is that the Muslim community is not prepared to take any concrete step to compel Israel to stop aggression against the innocent Palestinians and agree to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, yet expects the UN and the international community to play a positive role in this regard. When there are feeble, spiritless and half-hearted statements coming from Muslim countries in support of Palestinian cause, how could we criticize others who are not directly affected by the case for not taking steps to resolve the longstanding Palestinian problem.
Today, the thuggish role Israel has assumed and the atrocities perpetrated by its military over unarmed Palestinians, can rightly be ascribed to the Arab countries as they are squarely responsible for making Israel the hoodlum of the region. They are the ones who have been strengthening Israel with their passive acceptance of its hooliganism. Outside the Arab world, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Pakistan are trying to drum up support for embattled Palestinians while US and European Union have thrown their weight behind Israel. As for the UN, it has become a mere spineless organization and acts at the US bidding. So building hopes on the UN to play any meaningful role vis-a-vis Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the presence of the US would be a voice in the wilderness. How sad it is that 57 Muslim countries with around two billion population and with huge resources at their disposal can’t rein in Israel, a tiny state having a population of around 9 millions.

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  1. Sultan Mehmood says

    The chronological historical overview of the dynasties who ruled Palestine is very informative for those lacking knowledge of the history of Palestine. The victory of Israel over the Arab nations in the 1967 war proved to be disastrous and the lands lost to Israel including Jerusalem are still occupied by Israel.
    The most powerful and resourceful Arab nations, including UAE, who are calling the shots in the OIC have in principle decided to abandon Palestine and Palestinians and the recent lip service under the platform of the OIC is an ample proof of their apathy and total indifference towards Palestinians.
    The voice raised by Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and other Muslim countries will prove to be a far cry in the absence of serious and sincere support by Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and UAE. Pakistan’s support can only add to its own woes and will not make any difference nor that of Turkey and Iran who are embroiled in animosity with Saudi Arabia and UAE. In such a situation Pakistan should asses its position and capacity realistically to avoid its economic troubles.
    The emotional poems and rhetoric about the past glory of Ummah should not be repeated as a narrative.

  2. Liaquat Ali says

    Excellent historical presentation of Muslim world giving factual happenings including Khilafat Usmania’s entry into. This is obvious that Muslim rulers have not been united & fair to each others in the past

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