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Balfour's Burden: The Seed of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Present day. 

Swarming every corner of social media is the narrative to free Palestine, as seen in every comment, reel, post, or article put up since the 7th of October, 2023. While these cries of compassion for Palestine in its conflict with Israel echoed before the Hamas attacks, on the aforementioned date, they didn’t echo as loud as they do today. 

Hamas, an Islamic terrorist (as deemed by the UN, some like to think of them as a resistance group) unit from Palestine, launched rockets and attacks on Israeli communities on the dawn of the 7th of October this year. It is a political organization committed to the ‘destruction’ of Israel as per its charter.  This hatred toward Israel dates back to the infamous Israel-Palestine conflict, the seeds of which were planted as early as 1917 through the Balfour Declaration. 

The past that hasn’t been forgotten. 

The Balfour Declaration is a 67-word public statement issued on the 2nd of November, 1917, by Arthur James Balfour under the British Government to Lord Rothschild, a Zionist leader. This albeit short declaration has caused one of the most long-standing conflicts of the 21st Century. It is a seed of conflict and destruction, a legacy of the ‘grandest’ colonizer, Britain. 

The declaration promised the Zionist leader a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This promise, incredibly inconsiderate and dense, gave rise to the conflict in question. These 67 words are viewed in very opposing lights by the parties to the conflict; to Israelis, it was a boon that granted them their state, and to Palestinians, a bane that drove them out of their homes. It indirectly led to Israel's formation in 1948, the first Jewish state in 2000 years. While Jews deserved a home, no doubt after the years of oppression and discrimination they bore, it was not Britain’s place to offer them a home at the expense of another’s.

The British Government made this declaration as a show of gratitude to the many Jews who had funded and helped the Empire during World War 1. This angered the Ottomans and Arabs, rightly, for they had helped the British Empire too. 

Present day. 

According to the Palestinian health ministry, Palestine Red Crescent Society, and Israeli Medical Services, as of the 20th of October, 4,137 Palestinians have been killed and 13,000 abducted in the Gaza Strip. The numbers are growing. At least 1403 Israelis have been killed, 4,629 abducted, 203 taken captive by Hamas, and 100 missing. 

In ‘retaliation,’ Israel has cut Gaza's food, water, fuel, and electricity supplies and launched attacks within the strip. Gaza, home to 2 million Palestinians and one of the most densely populated places in the world has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. On account of this blockade, Gaza was already home to horrific living conditions; the further ‘siege’ by Israel has raised concerns over dehydration and subsequent death of the inhabitants. 

Hospitals, such as the patient-packed Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, and healthcare aid have been bombed by the Israeli air force (allegations of which are denied by Israel). The citizens of Gaza fight to escape with every starved and dehydrated bone in their bodies. Scenes and videos released each day show the horrific tragedy that these civilians are living in. 

The past that hasn’t been forgotten. 

Israel took up the mantle of the British legacy of invasion after its formation. The establishment of Israel was viewed by the Palestinians as “Al Nakba,” meaning The Catastrophe. The UN gave 56% of Palestinian land to Israel, whose population was only 33% in the divided land. Post formation, Israel launched attacks on Palestine land and took control of its territories, Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, an international land declared by the UN. 

The Israelis, in these pre-emptive attacks and conquests, often cited the Balfour Declaration as their promised right to the land. However, the conditions of the promise are often ignored. The declaration states in continuation to the land promised to Jews, “clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…” The meaning of this sentence is relatively straightforward but - oh so conveniently forgotten to justify the acts of the invading state, Israel. 

While one does empathize with Israel, for the Jews had been robbed of their home for 2000 years, and with Palestine, for their home has been alienated from them by a country with no rights. The division of land between Palestine and Israel should have been a conversation between only them; instead, with Britain’s tendency to sow seeds in lands that didn’t belong to it, it became a war with no solution in sight and only plight. 

Present day. 

Israel, home to one of the world’s most feared militaries, has gathered tens of thousands of soldiers at the Gaza borders, aided with tanks and artillery. A standing force of 160,000 and support in the form of military and funds from the US and solidarity from other European nations. Israel will ‘avenge’ the attacks of Hamas but will also very conveniently continue to oppress Palestine just like it has over the past few decades.  The UN and its ‘developed’ countries will continue to talk about PEACE between the two states as if it isn’t abundantly clear that one state has suffered unjustly in this conflict for too long: Palestine. They will continue to fund Israel and watch as it defies several of the international laws set by these ‘developed’ nations at the helm. This tragedy will continue; it will not end with the defeat of Hamas; it will end when Palestine is free. 

It will end when 5.6 million Palestinian refugees are ‘allowed’ to live in their own homes

It will end with justice.


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