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Editorial: Speak up on Palestine

Editorial: Speak up on Palestine

Over the past week, Nepali media outlets have been flooded with accounts of Nepalis working in Israel worried about their personal safety. Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group, has been dropping rockets on neighboring Israel and more than 10 Israelis have already been killed. People living there are justifiably afraid. Yet such accounts have also helped paint, if inadvertently, a misleading picture. They make it seem like Hamas is largely to be blamed for the current conflict. Such accounts also make Israel, rather than Palestine, the victim party.

The truth is the exact opposite. In the latest instance, Hamas started propelling rockets into Israel because the Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu refused to stop building Jewish homes in the Palestinian territory in the West Bank. This is the area that Israel illegally occupies by displacing Palestinians who have been living there for generations. Israel has also closed vital crossings into Palestinian territories and stormed a place of worship. Cornered, some Palestinians retaliated.  

This is not to justify any kind of terrorist activities. Hamas is wrong to use rockets on civilians. But what about Israel? It labels Hamas a terrorist organization but itself employs even more brutal tactics. While around 10 Israelis were killed by Hamas bombing as of this writing, Israel had indiscriminately killed at least 120 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including women and children.

It has also refused to talk to the ‘terror group’. In fact, such disproportionate use of force has been the preferred Israeli modus operandi in recent times as the government in Tel Aviv comes under pressure from far-right Zionists to bulldoze the Palestinian aspiration for their own homeland. 

The government of Nepal, which likes to weigh in on events from around the world, often unnecessarily, has maintained complete silence on Israeli actions in Palestine. Perhaps the fear is that any such statement will hamper the prospect of lucrative jobs for Nepalis in Israel. Plus, Nepal is an old friend of Israel—it was the first South Asian country to host a resident Israeli embassy.

Precariously placed countries like Nepal have little margin for error in the international arena. But it could, at the least, urge restraint on both the sides and ask Israel to come up with a roadmap for a viable two-state solution.