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People in Gaza needs to be saved: Where is the international community now?

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In retaliation to the Hamas attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis, the world is witnessing a disastrous military campaign in Gaza by Israel since October 7. 

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, as of October 19, 2023, at least 3,785 Palestinians were killed, including 1030 children and 12,493 people were injured in Israeli attacks. The recent barbaric blast at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City by Israel killed at least 500 Palestinians and injured many more. Such atrocities need to be stopped. 

Israel is conducting a mass-scale violation of human rights in Gaza. For instance, Israeli bombardment has displaced around half of the 2.4 million Gazans from their homes. It has imposed a total blockade on the enclave, halting food, fuel and medical supplies, which are rapidly running out. 

Against such a backdrop, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have called for 'humanitarian pauses' to deliver lifesaving aid to millions in Gaza, which needs to be critically looked at. The world should not allow the collective punishment of the people of Gaza by Israel.

Relentless bombing by Israel in Gaza has made the life of the Gazan people hell. According to the statement from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), "No place is safe in Gaza anymore, not even UNRWA facilities." Thus, the continuity of the Israeli military campaign in Gaza will be catastrophic for the Gazan people.

Israel-Palestine conflict is not a new phenomenon. Prolonging the ongoing Gaza war can create regional tensions in the Middle East. Thus, the international community needs to address the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict on an urgent basis. 

Tamer Qarmout from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies told Al Jazeera that the international community should treat Palestinians like they treat other human beings. 

The international community has overlooked the decades-long suffering and grievances of the Palestinian people as the decades-old crisis has remained unresolved. 

The superpower United States has been supporting and aiding Israel for decades. In this context, Stephen M. Walt, a Harvard Professor, wrote in Foreign Policy magazine that the USA is a "root cause of Israel and Palestine's latest war". 

President Biden requested USD 74 billion in military and economic assistance to Israel and Ukraine in his recent prime-time address, which might accelerate the ongoing conflict instead of ending it. Thus, the role of the United States needs to be critically looked at.

Countries worldwide need to come forward to the cause of the Palestinians. Bangladesh has been supporting the cause of the Palestinians since Bangabandhu's time. 

Bangabandhu supported the cause of the Palestinians at the UN forum and other bilateral meetings. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a one-day state mourning (for Saturday, 21.10.2023) commemorating the deaths of Palestinians in Israel attacks. Bangladesh's Prime Minister has also supported the cause of the Palestinians at the UN forums. 

For instance, in a recently held (September 2023) UN General Assembly debate, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina boldly said, "It is deeply troubling that the legitimate rights of Palestinian people have remained unmet. We will continue our efforts to realize the rights of the people of Palestine. Bangladesh will stand by Palestine".

The bottom line is that the decades-long suffering and pain of the Palestinians need to be heard and addressed by the international community. 

The world needs to act now to save innocent civilians in Palestine. More specifically, the United States needs to play a constructive role in ending the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and consider the human rights of all people equally. Alongside state actors, non-state actors, particularly the media, need to come forward to end the ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict. 

In this context, the role of diplomacy, international law and institutions, transnational civil society actors, and global peace movements must be promoted. This article argues that only dialogue and diplomacy can address the decade-old Israel-Palestine conflict instead of waging conflict or war.

Dr. Md. Shariful Islam is an Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Rajshahi. He is also an adjunct research fellow at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs, Dhaka.

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