The current crisis over Gaza has demonstrated the growing rejection by developing countries of the Western powers’ position. While the United States and some Western European states expressed their full support for Israel, without condemning Netanyahu’s actions to blockade the Gaza Strip and deprive its residents of electricity, water, food, and medicine, most countries in the Global South advocated abandoning the practice of collective punishment and preserving the lives of civilians and, finally, called for a realistic solution to the Middle East problem. While condemning any actions by Hamas against Israeli civilians, these countries at the same time made a strong statement supporting the rights of Palestinians and demanded that the blockade of Gaza be lifted.
Washington, as always, put a stake in a military solution to the conflict and sent two aircraft carrier groups to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Western powers condemned the “unjustified” attacks on civilians and expressed their unconditional support for the Israeli government, which is doing everything possible to “protect” its people from “evil”.
According to Arab press reports, the degree of hypocrisy is staggering: some photographs from Israel are undoubtedly terrible, but photographs from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, etc. were no less terrifying. Two decades of Western-Israeli wars in the Middle East have resulted not in thousands, but in millions of Arab and Palestinian casualties.
According to the West, Israel has a “duty” to protect its people, but Palestinians do not have the right to defend themselves, as if they were second-class people. According to renowned political scientist Marwan Bishara, Israel has the right to expand its occupation and apartheid regime, but Palestinians do not have the right to express their frustration or fight for freedom and justice after seven decades of dispossession, oppression and siege.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, especially energy infrastructure, were war crimes, but Israeli actions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were legitimate self-defence. According to some Arab newspapers, this is the very embodiment of hypocrisy and double standards.
There are also a lot of statements made by Israeli leaders that the Palestinians are subhuman beings and Gaza needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth, etc. Naturally, all this caused outrage in the Islamic world. Massive demonstrations took place in many capitals to protest against the hate-based acts of the Netanyahu government.
The reaction of the Global South is well illustrated by the joint statement of the League of Arab States and the African Union, which states that “an Israeli ground operation against Gaza will undoubtedly entail a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children, which could lead to an unprecedented genocide”. The organizations demanded an immediate ceasefire and a concerted international effort to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
The Israeli Prime Minister and the military command are trying to justify their mistakes before the Israeli people by stiffening their actions against the Palestinians and regularly shelling the Gaza Strip. A count put the number of Palestinian victims at about 3 thousand and the number of injured at about 10 thousand, of which the overwhelming majority are women and children.
In fact, after the first emotional reaction, Israel has reached a sober moment and there have been calls for the resignation of the current leadership and the clarification of the reasons for the death of so many Israeli citizens.
In this regard, a typical example is the American Avishai Cohen, who is a major in the Israeli army reserve and who, having been informed of the events that occurred on October 7, immediately boarded a plane and flew back home to join the army units. According to him, he was about to go to war and fight for Israel, but when sitting on the plane, he realized that “the massacre of innocent Israelis led to the massacre of innocent Palestinians”. Israel has been “on the path of war for too long: after all the dead Israelis and Palestinians have been buried, after we have finished washing away the rivers of blood, the people living in the same house on this land will have to understand that there is no choice but to follow the path of peace.”
According to the Gulf News newspaper, Israel needs to broker peace with the Palestinians to end the violence.
In this regard, Moscow’s balanced position, which called for a cessation of hostilities, provision of maximum assistance to the civilian population and the adoption of practical measures to implement the decisions of the United Nations on the creation of a Palestinian state along with Israel, is gaining more and more support from the Global South, which urges the speedy adoption of a political solution to the military conflict.
Veniamin Popov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Director of the Center for Partnership of Civilizations in MGIMO (U) MFA of Russia, PhD in history, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.