In recent weeks, the world has witnessed the devastating toll of the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches are even being bombed.
As the conflict escalates after Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, US President Joe Biden has emphasised support for Israel’s actions during his recent trip to the Middle East.
Following Biden’s footsteps, leaders of his Nato allies, from the UK, France, and Italy are visiting Israel to show their solidarity. While the United States has historically been a staunch ally of Israel, it is crucial to reassess its approach and work towards peace, not escalate another war in the region.
President Biden’s commitment to providing $14 billion in military assistance to Israel, despite the ongoing devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, raises serious concerns.
The carpet bombing of Gaza by Israel in the name of destroying Hamas has resulted in extensive destruction, with nearly 5,000 casualties, a significant portion of which are women and children. The 2.3 million people of Gaza are in desperate need of basic necessities, including medicine fuel, water, and food, as they face almost total blockade.
Gaza demands immediate action
Hospitals in Gaza are grappling with a lack of essential supplies, damaged infrastructure, and the threat of further bombardment. The water supply has been disrupted, leading to a severe shortage of clean water, which raises concerns about dehydration and waterborne diseases. Food supplies, particularly wheat flour, are running critically low, forcing residents to ration what little sustenance is available.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza demands immediate attention and action. Yet, President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s military actions, even in the face of blatant violations of international law, is troubling. The intentional harm to civilians and their property, failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and the disproportionate use of force are clear violations of international norms.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this conflict is the suffering of innocent children in Gaza. On average, 100 children are killed daily as a result of the Israeli military’s actions. International law provides special protection for children in armed conflicts, and it is the duty of all parties involved to prevent harm to them.
While President Biden’s pro-Israel stance aligns with the long-standing American position, it is heartening to see growing concern within his own Democratic party regarding civilian casualties in Gaza. Progressive lawmakers are criticising Israel’s actions and calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Shifting sentiment among younger voters
Many Muslim and Jewish Congressional staffers have written an open letter calling on their bosses to ask for cessation of hostilities in Gaza. Additionally, there is a shifting sentiment among younger voters and voters of colour in the US, who are less supportive of Israel’s war.
Recent polls indicate that Democrats’ sympathies are leaning more toward Palestinians than Israelis, especially among younger demographics.
Even within the State Department, officials have resigned over concerns that additional US military aid to Israel would only lead to more suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians. As the primary benefactor of Israel, the US bears a moral responsibility to end the violence and save lives.
Jewish peace activists are also advocating and demonstrating in large numbers for a ceasefire in Gaza and the urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach the region.
Finding a lasting solution
President Biden’s policy is reinforced by a sympathetic American media landscape. Despite growing demands among American voters for a more neutral stance, many media outlets and politicians continue to portray Israeli attacks as justifiable responses while predominantly blaming Palestinians for the violence.
There is no doubt that the US policy of the last three decades since the signing of the Oslo Accord towards Israel-Palestine conflict has ended in a disaster. President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem in 2017 took away much of the hope of Palestinians in the American-guided peace process.
Biden’s unqualified support for Israel is now further exacerbating that anger. Thus, it is imperative that the US adopts a balanced approach, taking into account independent voices and public protests while shaping its policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This balanced approach is not only necessary to halt the loss of life and destruction in Gaza but also for possible future efforts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine.
To move towards a finding a lasting solution, President Biden must prioritise ending the current hostilities, initiating a peace process, addressing security concerns of both the parties, and taking concrete steps to resolve key issues such as illegal encroachment of Palestinian land by the settlements.
The past is characterised by partisan pro-Israeli policies. In this exceptionally challenging time, President Biden has an opportunity to depart from the past and take the lead in this endeavour, demonstrating America’s commitment to peace and justice.
If Biden manages to achieve a lasting peace that will benefit not only the people of Israel and Palestine but also the entire Middle East and the world. US must now prioritise diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and a ceasefire to halt the suffering of Palestinians. It is still not too late.