With a heavy heart, it pains me to pen this article down, starting with a heart-wrenching incident that just unfolded in Gaza on October 17, 2023: Israel has bombed a hospital, a sanctuary of healing amid the Israel vs Palestine conflict. The devastating blast struck Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza reducing parts of it to rubble and sending shockwaves through the already beleaguered Palestinian Muslims.
This grave crime against humanity paints a heart-wrenching picture of shattered Palestinian lives and a healthcare facility left in ruins. The event cites an imperative need for international humanitarian intervention in this embattled region, but the question is, where are the humanitarian bodies sleeping till now? Are they sleeping or deliberately ignoring the atrocities committed against the 12 Million weak and oppressed Palestinians by the powerful and oppressive force of 9 Million Israeli settlers?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict traces back to the mid-20th century with the self-proclaimed establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, leading to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their soil, known as the Nakba. Israelis stormed the land that once belonged to Palestinians only, they forcibly took control of 774 towns and villages during the Nakba destroying 531 Palestinian Villages, killing over 15,000 Palestinians during the Nakba period.
Is deterrence confined only to the weak, powerless and oppressed?
While some international agreements and conventions provide protections for hospitals and medical personnel during times of armed conflict, one of the most significant documents is the Geneva Conventions, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which addresses the protection of civilians in times of war.
Article 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that:
“Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
Furthermore, the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, specifically Additional Protocol I and Additional Protocol II, provide further protections for medical facilities and personnel during international and non-international armed conflicts, respectively.
Israel, asserting its status as a powerful nation, has flagrantly disregarded the Geneva Convention by targeting a hospital, a move that starkly contradicts humanitarian values. Yet, no international body seems to have the capacity to hold it accountable.
In the corridors of international law, the Geneva Conventions stand as beacons of hope, promising protection for the most vulnerable in times of conflict. However, as we turn our attention to regions like Israel, Palestine, and the contested territories of India and Pakistan, we start to wonder: do these promises always work as they should? Since most of the time they appear more like tools designed by the powerful, for the powerful.
For countries like Pakistan and Palestine, where facing conflicts can feel like an uphill battle these promises often feel like they’re slipping through the cracks. While powerful nations like Israel and India navigate this legal landscape with relative ease, countries like Pakistan and Palestine find themselves trapped in the harsh realities of warfare.
Just like the Israel and Palestine conflict, the Kashmir conflict, rooted in the partition of British India in 1947, revolves around territorial disputes between India and Pakistan over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The majority-Muslim population sought to join Pakistan, but the Maharaja’s decision to accede to India sparked a series of wars and conflicts. Since the late 1980s, the Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir have witnessed tens of thousands of deaths, with reports of over 8,000 enforced disappearances. The acts of arbitrary detentions, torture, mass graves, and sexual violence by Indian security forces have been a regular exercise.
Not only this but in 2019, the Indian Govt stripped Kashmiris of their sole right to have a Special Status. 5th August 2019 is considered as the darkest day in the already dark history of Indian Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, revoked the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir which involved the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, further marginalizing the rights and autonomy of Kashmiris.