Israel Vs Hamas: The Truth That Must Be Told


By  Yemi Adebowale

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I  was deeply shocked hearing so many people justifying the killing of hundreds of innocent Israelis by Hamas militias last Saturday. I was further shocked to hear many others justifying the retaliatory bombardments of Gaza, which largely affected innocent civilians. Yes, Israel has a right to kill the militias who killed innocent Israelis. That right should be limited to brutally repelling Hamas militias. This, they have almost completed.

For me, after the Israeli military cleared majority of the Hamas invaders within its territory, killing over 1500 militias, I felt they should have pursued the remnants by foot into Gaza to complete the clearance. I’m talking about ground assault that will precisely nail the Hamas militias. This would have reduced collateral damage usually caused by aerial bombings.

The ongoing air bombardment of Gaza is absolutely unnecessary. Israeli forces continue pounding Gaza for days, killing hundreds of Palestinians. Human lives, largely innocent people, are being wasted by the bombardments. Unfortunately, the positions of many on the crisis are largely coloured by religion. Some even see it as war between Christians and Muslims. No! This is a shameless war for territory. There are more Christians in Palestine than in Israel. Infact, Muslims constitute around 28 percent of Israel with under two percent of Christians.

Now, to the truth that must be told about this conflict. When armed Hamas militias in their hundreds invaded Southern Israel (not part of disputed territory) from land, sea and air, killing and maiming innocent civilians, they said the assault was a response to what it described as Israeli attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza by Israel. it was also a continuation of their campaign for the return of “occupied territories.” In the operation called “Al-Aqsa Storm” Hamas militias went from house to house killing innocent people. This was after they had killed no fewer than 260 Israeli youths at an open-air “Tribe of Nova” music festival on a vast field in Southern Israel near the Gaza border.

Hamas militias were seen plunging into the panicked crowd, mowing down fleeing revelers with bursts of automatic fire. Many victims were shot in the back as they ran.  While rockets rained down, some Hamas militias waited near bomb shelters, gunning down people who were seeking refuge. Israeli communities on either side of the festival grounds also came under attack, with Hamas gunmen abducting dozens of men, women and children – including elderly and disabled people.

The assault on Southern Israel is a smokescreen designed by Hamas to disguise their real intention. Hamas needed to stop Saudi Arabia, Arab’s richest country, from normalising ties with Israel as part of a deal ensuring security guarantees from the United States along with assistance in developing a civilian nuclear programme in Saudi Arabia. This is coming less than three years after Israel signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with four Arab League countries – Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco. They were the latest Arab nations, after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Then, suddenly Saudi Arabia is set to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel. For Hamas, this must not happen. The way to stop it is to attack Israel. Of course, Israel will retaliate and the anger/sentiments that will follow in the Arab world will most likely prevent Saudi Arabia from going ahead with the deal. This is the real reason behind the Hamas deadly attacks in Southern Israel on October 7.

So, we can all see that this extremist group called Hamas is the biggest hindrance to peace between Palestine and Israel. Hamas is the biggest hindrance to peace in the Middle-east. How did Hamas become so powerful? It simply exploited one of the concessions for peace made by Israel. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip to the 1967 Green Line. Jewish settlements in Gaza were also evacuated and residents resettled inside Israel. Gaza was then handed over to the State of Palestine. In June 2007, Hamas pushed aside authorities of the State of Palestine (dominated by late Yaser Arafat’s Fatah group) and took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority.

The current president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is interested in peace with Israel. For this peace to happen, Hamas must be disarmed and the control of Gaza returned to Palestinian National Authority. This is where Arab leaders must act with all sincerity. They must disarm Hamas militias and tell Iran to keep off this area. Iran is a bad influence on Hamas. It was appalling hearing the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, commending Hamas after the attacks in Israel. He is as guilty as those commending the reckless bombardment of Gaza by Israel. The Palestinian National Authority should be negotiating for Palestine and not Hamas.

Israel is clearly interested in peace, but extremist groups like Hamas are against this. Recall that on September 13, 1993, the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin and the then Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiator, Mahmoud Abbas signed the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements for Palestine, commonly referred to as the “Oslo Accord,” in the United States. This shows Israel believes in the State of Palestine. I also remember that at the Oslo II Accord, signed in Taba, Egypt, in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin offered to give up 91% of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip if 69 Jewish settlements in the West Bank are ceded to Israel. Palestinian extremists prevented this plan from being actualised.

It is these same extremists opposed to peace that prevented the United Nations’ plan for Mandate Palestine from being actualised in 1947. In 1917, the British pushed out soldiers of the Ottoman Empire controlling the swath of land that is today Palestine and Israel. This resulted in just one country called British Palestine with Arabs, Jews and Christians living with some glitches in different communities. When the mandate was about to end on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states (along with an international zone encompassing Jerusalem and Bethlehem to be administered by the United Nations). Palestinian extremists would have none of this. They were opposed to the emergence of anything called the State of Israel and war broke out, drawing in Arab countries.

Israel declared itself an independent state following Resolution 181. Protesting this move, five Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria – attacked Israel. That was the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Egypt captured Gaza while Jordan captured West Bank and East Jerusalem during the War. The territories remained under Egyptian and Jordanian control until the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel seized the territories and occupied them, along with East Jerusalem. They also captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. Gaza was returned to the State of Palestinian in 2005 by Israel.

The demand for the return of “occupied territories” is responsible for this unending bloodshed. Leaders of the Arab world and the United States can make peace happen between Israel and Palestine if they think more about humanity and put aside extremism. Now, my own suggestions for peace: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt must disarm Hamas and allow Palestinian authorities to take charge of everything about control of Palestine and negotiations for land. Then, the United States should compel Israel to transfer the entire West Bank and Gaza to the State of Palestine, with a guarantee of peace by the Arab leaders. Jewish settlements in these territories should be evacuated and residents transferred into Israel. For the Palestinians, they must relinquish their claims to East Jerusalem and allow Israel to have this territory fully. For me, this is the way forward.

My heart bleeds for the innocent civilians in Southern Israel and Gaza slaughtered like animals. The Israeli-Palestinian crisis persists because there is so much hatred in our world; so much extremism by so many in this world. Gaza/Southern Israel is now one big hell. But in that hell, I still feel that somehow, we can choose to act out of love. Arab leaders and the United States must act out of love to end the Israeli-Palestine bloodbath. Human lives are sacred. Killing innocent beings is not justifiable.

Injustice against Abdulrasheed Bawa Must End

The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, is 123 days old today in the dungeon of the notorious Department of State Security Service. He is being held without trial, which is a violation of his Constitutional rights. The falsehood is that Bawa is being probed for alleged financial impropriety under his watch. For over four months now, they could not file any charge against him. Bawa has not been charged with any criminal offence. Of course, they can’t sustain any case of corruption against him. Bawa’s crime is daring to investigate powerful corrupt politicians who are now running the show in this federal government. It is obvious that the instruction to the DSS is that Bawa should be thoroughly humiliated for stepping on these powerful toes.

The DSS has no legal grounds to continue detaining Bawa. The lie at the initial stage was that he was being detained on the basis of a remand order issued by a Magistrate Court in Abuja. Now, the remand order has become illegitimate as no magistrate has the power under Section 493 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 or Section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria to approve the detention of a criminal suspect for 123 days without trial.

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana rightly pointed out: “under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the cumulative lifespan of a remand order is 56 days. Therefore, having exceeded the detention period permitted by the Act and the Constitution of Nigeria, the SSS should be directed to release Bawa from illegal custody without any further delay.”

Bawa’s rights must be respected. The Rule of Law must be respected. Specifically, Equality Before the Law, Supremacy of the Law and Civil Liberty must be respected. A democratic government is under a legal compulsion not to breach the fundamental rights of citizens except in a manner prescribed by the Constitution. In the case of this detained former EFCC boss, his Constitutional rights have been badly infringed upon by this federal government. Bawa must be released from DSS’s custody immediately.

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