In this article without taking sides we’ll present a balance sheet of gains and losses of both sides in close to century long Israel Palestine conflict and leave it to readers to assess for themselves which side is sufferer and which is the oppressor.
In 1948 during the creation of Israel, 15,000 Palestinians were killed by Zionist forces. In 1967 six-day war Iseael captured Gaza and West Bank along with territories of neighbouring nations. In 1972 Palestinian gunmen killed 17 Israeli athletes at Munich Olympic. In 1982, in response to failed assassination attempt on Israeli Ambassador in Britain, Israel invaded southern Lebanon and allowed Christian militias to massacre thousands of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. In 1987 Intifada which continued till early 1990s about 2,000, mostly Palestinians, got killed.
In 1993 Oslo Accord, it was agreed that Palestinian Authority would govern Gaza and West Bank, Israel agreed to withdraw forces from these areas and Palestine Liberation Organisation recognized Israel. Israel did not withdraw the settlements. Israeli leader Ariel Sharon visited Al-Aqsa mosque with police provoking Palestinians to start second Intifada.
Israel re-entered Gaza and West Bank. During 2000-2003, 4,300 people died, again mostly Palestinians. In 2005 Sharon government withdrew 8,500 Israelis from settlements and forces from Gaza and West Bank allowing President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestinian Authority to take control.
In 2006 Hamas won majority seats in council and after defeating Fatah in civil war took control of Gaza, while Palestinian Authority retained control of West Bank. Israel refused to recognize Hamas and started Gaza’s blockade which continues till today. In 2006, 1,150 Israeli and Lebanese civilians lost life in Israel-Hezbollah conflict on Israel-Lebanon border.
In 2008 Israel attacked Gaza in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died. Israel used white phosphorus on civilian population. In 2012 in response to rockets launched by Hamas, Israel attacked Gaza for 8 days in which 180, mostly civilian Palestinians, died.
In 2014 Hamas kidnapped and killed 3 Israeli youth which provoked Israel to attack Gaza, this time for seven weeks, in which 2,310 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, including 67 soldiers, got killed. In 2021 when Israel threatened to evict Palestinians from neighbourhood of East Jerusalem and imposed restrictions around Al-Aqsa during Ramzan, Palestinians protested, Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Israel attacked Gaza for 11 days in which over 340 Palestinians and 11 Israelis got killed. In the present 2023 conflict, over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, and 25,000 injured in response to Hamas killing 1,400 Israelis.
Thus we see that the number of Palestinians killed is about 40,000 whereas Israeli lives lost are less than a tenth of that figure, in the process of creation and sustenance of Israel. In the last 15 years alone 6,407 Palestinians have been killed compared to 308 Israelis.
In 1917 when Balfour Declaration announced a home for Jewish people in Palestine, the Jewish population was less than 15% here. Today considering Israeli population to be 93.6 lakhs, of which 17 lakhs are Muslims and populations of West Bank and Gaza to be 30 and 23 lakhs, respectively, Jews comprise more than 53% of the total population of what was originally Palestine.
Between 1932 and 1935, facing Nazi persecution 1.6 lakh Jews immigrated to Palestine. In 1948 ‘Nakba’, 7 lakh Palestinians were forced to flee out of Palestine, most of whose families are still living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Since then there is a constant stream of Jews from all over the world coming into Israel and stream of Palestinians leaving their homeland.
The present war has once again hastened the exit of Palestinians and the final figure, just like the death figure, may be close to 1948 Nakba figure. Gaza is in the danger of erasure. Israel first warned Palestinians to vacate North Gaza and move to South and now it has warned them to move out of South too.
Israel captured 77% of original Palestinian mandate territory in 1948 and presently Gaza and West Bank exist on less than 22% of total combined area of Israel and both parts of Palestine.
Hamas captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011. Israel has doubled the number of Palestinian prisoners in its custody during the present war itself. About 6,000 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli jails and 4,000 Palestinians have been detained in a camp in Gaza.
In any case, Gaza is described as the biggest open jail on earth considering that Israel has been blockading it since 2006. Compared to these figures presently about 200 Israelis are in Hamas custody who were kidnapped on 7 October, 2023.
A total of 51,49,742 Palestinian citizens are living in refugee camps spread across Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and West Bank. This is more than the population of Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza together. Hence, more Palestinians are in refugee camps than are free to live on their own, their freedom itself hostage to Israel. On the other hand 7 lakh Israelis are living on occupied Palestinian land in West Bank and East Jerusalem as settlers.
Qatar, Iran and a few countries are left among supporters of Palestine whereas most of the powerful countries of the world are aligned with Israel. The U.S. provides $3.8 billion in military aid annually to Israel. Whatever help Palestine receives is irregular and mostly humanitarian and partly for running the government.
The arms are smuggled into Gaza by Hamas through underground tunnels. Israeli Defense Forces comprises of 1,69,500 active personnel and 4,65,000 reserves. Hamas’s armed wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades has 30-40,000 fighters.
Israel has a flourishing economy with a GDP per capita of $58,273 whereas GDP of Gaza and West Bank are merely $876 and $1924, respectively. Most of Gaza’s economy has been bombed out of existence by Israel. During the current war Israel has choked Gaza of essential items like food and fuel.
Among the 193 member countries of United Nations in the world 163 recognise Israel as a state and 138 recognise Palestine, yet Palestine got a non-member Observer status only in 2012, whereas 1947 UN resolution clearly partitioned Palestine into two states – Palestine and Israel.