Two invasions compared

Today I will try to compare two invasions: the current one, terrible, by the Russians in Ukraine, and that of the Israeli’s in June 1967, which led to the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Distant in time, but ever more present in its distressing consequences.

The reasons for the two conflicts

They are very different. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was provoked only by the Russian fear of being on the border with a large country sympathetic to the democratic values ​​of the West. More than the military threat, many observers in fact underline that the Russian dictator fears above all the contagion of democracy in his country, a democracy that would risk dethroning his person and taking away power and privileges from his oligarch friends. Putin himself considers democracy, in his words, unsuitable for the Slavic people. Even the Ukrainians seem to have some responsibility, albeit minor and certainly not justifying the barbarism we are witnessing. I am referring to the lack of attention to the legitimate aspiration for some form of autonomy, if not independence, of the Donbass’ Russian-speaking population. But I confess that I have not explored this particular subject sufficiently.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967 has more complex and partly understandable reasons. Suffice it to recall the declaration of the newly formed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – May 1964 – on the nullity of UN resolution 181 concerning the partition of Palestine into two free and independent states and on the right to existence of the State of Israel itself.

The consequences

Victims and refugees

The war in Ukraine is in full swing. Impossible to predict the ultimate consequences. The report of the victims, which is growing by the hour, is currently a weapon in the hands of each other’s propaganda. Moreover, in the rage of the battle, their count is impossible: bodies under the rubble, disfigured faces, limbs thrown away. Millions of people fleeing to an uncertain and painful tomorrow.

The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in the 1967 war caused some 300,000 refugees, adding to the more than 400,000 who fled during the 1948-49 war. I have not found reliable sources regarding the direct victims of the Six Day War. In the years 1987-1993, during the first Intifada, 1,258 Palestinians and 150 Israelis died. The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories reports that, since 2000, the total number of Palestinian deaths killed by Israelis has been 10,242, while that of Israelis killed by Palestinians has been 1,2811.

The reactions of the international community

The invasion of Ukraine resulted in a cohesive and immediate reaction from the West in favor of the attacked country. A reaction that is materializing with the sending of arms to the Ukrainians and, above all, with massive financial, economic and commercial sanctions against Russia, never implemented before. The UN condemned the invader and the West opened its borders in a race for humanitarian solidarity with millions of Ukrainian refugees.

The international response to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has been decidedly slower, and much more lukewarm.

Indeed, the condemnations of the international community have been as numerous as they are ineffective. At the UN Security Council they have almost always met with the veto of the United States. Those of the General Assembly, by their nature only symbolic, as they have no consequences on the field. They have all been rejected by Israel, often with the usual accusation of being motivated by anti-Semitism. Here is a partial list:

  • Resolution 242 (1967): states that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is illegal;
  • Resolution 252 (1968): declares void the acts of Israel aimed at unifying Jerusalem as the Jewish capital;
  • Resolution 3236 (1974): establishes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine to self-determination without external interference, to independence and national sovereignty;
  • Resolution 446 (1979): establishes that Israeli settlements are a serious obstacle to peace and asks Israel to respect the Fourth Geneva Convention;
  • Resolution 605 (1987): Deeply deplores Israeli policies and practices that deny the human rights of Palestinians;
  • Resolution 904 (1994): Strongly condemns the Hebron massacre and its aftermath, which resulted in the deaths of over 50 Palestinian civilians and the wounding of hundreds more, and enjoins Israel, the occupying power, to apply measures to prevent illegal settler violence;
  • Resolution 1397 (2002): affirms a vision of a region in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within safe and recognized borders;
  • Resolution ES-10/15 (2004): declares that the wall built inside the occupied territories is contrary to international law and asks Israel to demolish it;
  • Resolution 2334 (2016), adopted by 14 out of 15 votes in favor, calls on Israel to end its settlement policy in the Palestinian territories since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and reiterates that it will not recognize any 1967 border changes, if not those agreed by the parties with the negotiations. Surprisingly, the United States of America led by President Barack Obama abstained without resorting to their veto power.

Israel has never suffered any noteworthy government sanctions. For years, the United Nations Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, has also been lavish with condemnations of Israel every year. Even these condemnation resolutions did not lead to changes in Israeli policy.

Since July 2005, 171 non-governmental organizations have launched a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign in support of the Palestinian cause. Numerous international organizations have joined it, including some Jewish ones, such as the American Jewish Voice for Peace and the Italian Jewish Anti-Occupation Network.

For a variety of reasons that I do not go into, even these boycotts have had little or no impact on the Israeli economy and politics.

Two weights and two measures

We have seen how the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are considered by international law as occupied territories. Therefore, when Israel, as the occupying power in those lands, attacks the Palestinians, their property and threatens their lives, whether in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, this gives them the right to defend themselves according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

The attitude of the international community towards the two aggressions (Russian and Israeli) certainly appears unbalanced. The Palestinian leaders’ recent denunciation of the international community for the immediate and concrete solidarity shown for the Ukrainian cause in comparison with the indifference towards the Palestinian cause is therefore inevitable and understandable. Solidarity accused of being hypocritical and racist as it is due to skin color, religion and race2.

Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh, Palestinian writer and journalist, writes3: “Indeed, in the last week, social media has been filled with stories about the heroism and resistance of the Ukrainians […]. If these stories had taken place in Palestine, they would certainly not be perceived as acts of heroism, but condemned as terrorism ”. How to blame him?

More generally, with a doctor’s outlook, I wonder: is war the consequence of a mental disease or can it be considered normal? “It is surprising how among the Ten Commandments, carved with care and divine deliberation on stone tablets, the Lord forgot to forbid war. Indeed, it wouldn’t have been difficult to find one to replace. It is true that to kill is forbidden, whereas mass killings have always seemed to man less reprehensible and often even occasion for glory. If God thought otherwise, in those solemn instructions to Moses it would have been worth making it clear”4.

Israel’s parliament has passed a law denying naturalisation to Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza married to Israeli citizens, forcing thousands of Palestinian families to either emigrate or live apart.

The Israeli Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked

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  1. B’tselem: Fatalities – All data
  2. Khaled Abu Toameh: The Jerusalem Post – March 5, 2022
  3. Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh – Al Jazeera – 6 Mar 2022
  4. Nathan Levi. – La cinese di Maputo, romanzo edito da Tresogni, 2014. Pag 7  

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