As recent events unfold in Palestine and casualties continue to rise, the cause of the events remains shrouded behind the cloud of mystery regarding the history of the Israel and Palestine conflict. Recent violence, however, began in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem. 6 Palestinian families were evicted from the neighborhood, replaced with Israeli settlers. Palestinians responded with protests and demonstrations in Jerusalem, causing violent conflict between protesters and Israeli police. Palestinian protesters were violent in many situations, throwing stones at Israeli officers and injuring Israelis. However, Israeli police responded disproportionately, storming one of the most holy mosques in the Islamic faith, Al Aqsa, firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades. Upwards of 700 Palestinians and 30 Israelis were injured over the span of 4 days. These demonstrations occurred in the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. Mosques, the Islamic equivalent of churches, are sanctuaries of peace and calm, a place for all people to meditate, reflect, and pray. Palestinians felt the actions of the Israeli military showed contempt for Islam, as they stormed Al Aqsa without abiding by customs, and proceeded to murder countless Palestinians in one of the holiest Islamic landmarks across the globe.
As a result of these events in Jerusalem, Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization based in Gaza dedicated to protecting the Palestinian people, gave Israel an ultimatum. They demanded Israel withdraw its military from the Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem area by 6 P.M. on the afternoon of May 10th. Israel ignored Hamas, sparking the launch of hundreds of missiles from Gaza by Hamas. Some were able to penetrate the Israeli missile defense system, Iron Dome, killing 13 Israelis and injuring at least 200, according to The Times of Israel.
However, the missiles launched at Palestine killed almost 20 times the amount of Israelis killed, with more than 250 Palestinians killed, more than 65 of them being children, and an estimated 2,000 injured, according to the United Nations. These events aroused public outcry, resulting in protests, rallies, and demonstrations across the world supporting Palestinian and Israeli casualties.
Although both parties experienced casualties throughout this crisis, Israel has one of the most powerful and well-funded militaries in the world, while the State of Palestine has no land army, no navy, and no air force. From a humanitarian perspective, Israel must be as accountable for its actions against the Palestinian people as any other country across the globe. Gaza, the target of Israel’s continuous missile strikes, is regarded as an open-air prison due to the fact that no Palestinians are allowed to leave or enter Gaza, as well as any imports or exports.
As an ally of the United States, Israel should face the same standards as the U.S. The storming of a religious center by U.S. federal troops and the launch of missiles against one ethnicity would receive immense global outcry and protest, yet Israel faces no such condemnation, with many organizations and protests openly supporting Israeli actions as efforts of self-defense, despite the difference in casualties between the two parties.
The basic standard of respecting human life should not be one disregarded by the world. The disproportionate reaction by Israel to the protests initiated by their own actions should be condemned by the world. It is only in this global stance to such actions that similar future violence by countries and leaders can be reduced, and hopefully, eliminated.