Home Columnist Israel-Hamas wars: Time for fairness and justice not prayer alone

Israel-Hamas wars: Time for fairness and justice not prayer alone

by Church Times

By Oyewole Sarumi PhD

Since 1948 when the UN created the nation of Israel, both Palestine and Israel have not known peace. I don’t intend to catalogue the several wars already fought, but what should be done to stop the recurrence of war permanently?
A bit of hindsight is needed here though. Palestinian territory – encompassing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israeli government has established a two-tier legal and political system that provides comprehensive rights for Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing military rule and control on Palestinians without any basic protections or rights under international law.
The Israeli government has also engaged in a regular practice of inhumane acts, as well as extra-judicial killings, torture, denial of fundamental human rights, arbitrary detention, and collective punishment of the Palestinians. This inhumanity to man being perpetrated by Israelis on the Palestinians led to the recent insurgence of the guerilla warfare tactics of Hamas.

An endless war

Methinks it is wrong to condemn only the actions of Palestinians without also condemning the actions of Israel towards Palestine over the years. Like Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi said recently on Arise, the Palestinians have been sinned against more than sinning. What we are hearing now from the Israeli Prime Minister is that he is going to wipe Hamas off the face of the earth in Gaza.” Is that statement from God? No!
Still quoting Prof. Akinyemi, he opined “Some of the people who are fighting on the side of Hamas today were not even born when this issue began. If Israel wipes out this generation of Palestinians in Gaza, another generation will come up unless Israel decides to wipe out the entire Palestinians from the earth, and they do not have the capability to do that. They will simply be creating a new generation of embittered people who will continue to fight. The United Nations that created Israel has to take responsibility for providing a programme for moving forward.”
What’s the way forward? The debate here is about occupation and not the existence of the Jews. The larger world and Palestinians have accepted the two-state solution, but Israel still wants to continue with occupation. No one wants the killings of innocent civilians be it Jews or Palestinians. The occupation must end and peace must prevail. A two-state solution is the answer – there must be compromises on both sides so that an enduring peace may ensue.
I don’t agree with Christians just praying for Israel – but they are entitled to do so, but where is the Christian love for your neighbours if you are praying that Israel wipes out Palestine from the face of the earth? Remember, over 98% of the present Israelis are not practicing Christians, and don’t recognize or believe in Jesus Christ.
According to a March 2022 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT, Israel’s political system of entrenched rule in the OPT satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the crime of apartheid. Discriminatory apartheid in the 21st-century world!
The CoI reached similar conclusions in September 2022, reporting that the Israeli government’s policies and actions have led to the permanent occupation and de facto annexation of Palestinian territory, likely constituting crimes under international law, including war crimes. The US always vetoed any resolution against Israel or for a two-nation state in the UN.

Plight of Palestinians

Furthermore, Palestinians are regularly subjected to violence by Israeli settlers, including physical attacks, shooting with live ammunition, torching of fields and livestock, theft and vandalization of property. Israeli security forces also perpetrate widespread attacks against Palestinians, particularly in occupied territory, which often lead to deadly escalations, including regular aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Israel’s air, sea and land blockade of Gaza has been in place since 2007 and has inflicted collective punishment on 2 million Palestinians, facilitating a humanitarian crisis. Israeli authorities periodically shut down the crossings into Gaza, preventing the flow of people, medical cases, and essential commodities, including food. Hamas’ security forces have also committed grave abuses against civilians in Gaza, including arbitrary arrests, summary executions, and torture.


The International community’s hypocrisy is part of the problem. Recently, President Biden condemned Hamas’ attack as “sheer evil” after its shocking multipronged strike on Israel launched from the Gaza Strip that has killed hundreds of civilians, including at least 14 American citizens. This same American government called Nelson Mandela and the ANC terrorists.
They refused to impose sanctions on the White South African apartheid regime and also refused to condemn the cruelty against the Blacks in South Africa. Today they are the same people in support of the occupation of Palestine and the attacks on Gaza.. This is not fair. A two-state is the solution. Period!!
In recent months, Israeli forces have frequently deployed lethal force against the Palestinians, regardless of the level of threat. Since the start of 2023, more than 170 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel’s military rule disrupts every aspect of daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It continues to affect whether, when, and how Palestinians can travel to work or school, go abroad, visit their relatives, earn a living, attend a protest, access their farmland, or even access electricity or a clean water supply. It means daily humiliation, fear, and oppression. People’s entire lives are effectively held hostage by Israel.
Israel has also adopted a complex web of military laws to crush dissent against its policies, and senior government officials have branded Israelis advocating for Palestinian rights as “traitors”.
So, what we witnessed on October 7 by Hamas is a bottled-up frustration of Israeli aggressive occupation and treatment of the people of Palestine over the years. This tit-for-tat cannot continue forever. It must have a solution, and that can’t be the annihilation of one party by another.

Sustainable solution

So, all parties must work toward a sustainable political solution consistent with international law and various UNSC resolutions. States with strong political and economic ties to Israel, the Palestinian Authority or Hamas should push for a lasting political solution to the conflict, accountability for potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the protection of human rights for all civilians, regardless of ethnicity or religion.
Nothing short of this will bring peace to that territory that has about 14% of its population as Muslim (81% Jews, Christians only 2%, Others make up the balance), not even prayers being offered in the face of double standards and non-display of our so-called Christian love. It’s time to stop this hypocrisy and fight for other people’s rights in the face of annihilation. Justice and fairness are both Christian virtues, and we ought to display such now, and must be seen to be done.
Oyewole O. Sarumi Ph.D

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