Published On: Tue, Jul 22nd, 2014

Gaza – Round Table Conference

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
After enjoying a no holds barred 10 days of aerial bombardment Israel launched a ground attack on Gaza (northern Gaza Strip) on Thursday 17 July 2014.  The Jewish State has added 18,000 reservists to 50,000 already mobilized forces in recent days. They are supported by Israel’s “vast intelligence capabilities,” air force and navy.

The whole world in general and Muslim countries in particular have done very little and in some cases nothing to put breaks on Israeli invasion of Gaza and merciless killing of civilians. Arabs failed to move beyond customary condemnation and may be readying to take truckloads of dates, tents and food parcels. That is all that they have been doing in the past. The leadership of 57 member countries of OIC seems to have gone on a trip to Canary Islands.

World has found a method to kill and more so the method has surfaced once again in Gaza. On Thursday 17 July 2014, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry brokered a temporary ceasefire between Israel’s and Palestinian’s for five hours from 10am local time to 3pm. It allowed people to resume some daily routines and start repairs to electrical and water infrastructure. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing emergency food vouchers in areas where shops are functioning so that people can get food and shops can get funds at a time when banks in Gaza are closed. Ceasefire ended at 3pm and Israel got to its spree of killing from the air and from the ground advance.

Another interesting aspect of the killing of innocent Muslim men, women, children and elderly in Gaza is the failure of the Arab and Muslim countries to see the method in the Israeli madness and its success at the world forums. Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the Secretary-General is “prepared to do his part” to help the parties end the violence and find a way forward. He said that while Israel has legitimate security concerns, the United Nations “is alarmed by Israel’s heavy response.”  The statement prima facie approves the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza and at the same time offers a free hand to Israel as long as it is a controlled killing and does not run into a disproportionate killing. United Nations would not mind the Israeli invasion and killing, if it is a measured one.

The oil rich Arabs in particular have never been sincere to Palestinians and some of them even cut underhand deals with Israel to divide Palestine, weaken them and eliminate their popular leadership. It remained a spectator when Israelis surrounded the offices of Yasser Arafat and threatened to kill him. He was ultimately poisoned to death. Muslim countries would not risk the displeasure of USA under any circumstances.

UN has asked the warring parties to respect international humanitarian law obligations towards civilians, humanitarian workers and UN installations. They must exercise maximum restraint at this time of great violence and instability. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in the region to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians, and to help bolster regional and international efforts for a solution. Arabs do not have a reliable diplomatic narrative that could match the Israeli effectiveness at the UN.

They contribute to UN at all levels and do not want to urge beyond an appreciation of their large heartedness (Wah-Wah). Arabs know that stepping out of line, might encourage USA to start looking for Democracy and Rule of Law in these countries as it rushed to find the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq. WMD never existed and the ploy used has turned the country and its neighbourhood upside down.

USA is faced with real ISIS instead of WMD. The difference being that like Al-Qaeda, ISIS does not wish to destroy USA. Who knows one day USA may see an enemy in ISIS as well. The manner in which ISIS is destroying religious heritage in Iraq has baffled both Shia and Sunni Muslims. As Bashar al-Assad President of Syria for next 7 years has said that 2011 Arab uprisings was “fake spring”, many believe that ISIS may also be a sponsored group to cause irreparable rift between Sunni and Shia Muslims by destroying their common religious heritage.

A disjointed and a scared Arab world went to war (making Iraq as front State) against Iran openly and in secret for 8 years from September 1980 to August 1988. It was the 20th century’s longest conventional war. Iran was on its own and had no choice but to buy arms from USA and Israel alike to stay in the war. Peace and war in Arab world is not their choice. To expect that they would be of any substantial help to Palestine or Kashmir is a delusion.

The pain of Gaza is being felt from Kashmir to Pakistan and the rest of the world. Nazriya Pakistan Council (NPC) organised a Round Table Conference on “World’s Defeaning Silence over Gaza” on 19 July 2014 at the Aiwan-i-Quaid in Islamabad to express solidarity with the hapless Palestinians put under brutal attack by Israel since 9 July 2014. It was presided over by Mr. Zahid Malik, Chairman of the NPC and Palestinian Ambassador H E Mr. Walid A M Abu Ali was the chief guest. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq chairman APHC made a passionate telephonic address from Srinagar and on behalf of the people of Kashmir expressed solidarity with the people of Palestine and highlighted the cause of Kashmir as well. APHC (Mirwaiz) representative in Islamabad Syed Faiz Naqshbandi and the author (Syed Nazir Gilani) were also invited to speak on the occasion.

The RTC was attended by ambassadors of many Muslim countries, scholars from civil and military disciplines, in particular ambassador Javed Hafiz, M Bilal Senior advocate Supreme Court, General (Retd) Hameed Gul, former DG ISI and many others. Exchange of ideas and hugs with H E Major General (Retd) Nawaf Khalief, ambassador of the Hashmite Kingdom of Jordan,  H E Mr. Walid A M Abu Ali , ambassador  of the State of Palestine and General (Retd) Hameed Gul, former DG ISI in particular were very useful (exchanges) and warm (hugs). I had to rush soon after breaking my fast after the RTC to another meeting scheduled at my office from 8—9.30 pm. I did not stay behind for further interaction.

The address by the chief guest H E Mr. Walid A M Abu Ali ambassador of Palestine was exceptional and it touched every heart. He began with the recitation of Surah Al-Asr and there could hardly have been a human soul that was not moved deep down in his and in her heart. He explained the methodology of Israeli aggression at a time when Israel was nearing its elections, EU was preoccupied with the crisis in Ukraine, US was looking the other way, Arab’s were kept busy in minor issues  and the world was gripped with football fever. He said that Palestinians were not hurt as much by Israeli attack and bullets, as they were to see some of the Muslim countries enjoying the world football cup match, when Gaza was under attack. Ambassador picked on the double standards, when world would equate a handmade missile in Gaza with the most destructive weapons of Israel.

Ambassador Walid A M Abu Ali very ably advocated that Al Aqsa mosque unites all Muslims around the world and the Palestinian cause is the cause of all Muslims. He spoke with conviction and passion. There was a convincing air of determination in his voice, use of phrase and in his body language. If Iftaar was not closing in on us he would have added more merit to Palestinian cause and made the audience wiser and sensitive on the issue. As ambassadors or advocates of a cause do, ambassador Walid A M Abu Ali did that in his speech – that is incremented the constituency of support, sympathy and solidarity for the Palestinian cause. I wish him every success in his tenure as the ambassador of the State of Palestine in Pakistan and hope to see him at other forums.

The Round Table ended with passing a unanimous resolution condemning the Israeli brutal aerial attack, in particular attack on a Care Home for Orphans and Handicapped in northern Gaza and killing of the disabled children. It urged the UN, the world and Arab Muslim countries to go beyond the customary statements expressing their concerns over the atrocities and take practical steps to stop the Israel from carrying out its aggression. The RTC called on UN SC to convene an emergent session on Gaza situation.

Late at night I saw a twitter post and could not resist but to show it to all in the room. It was a Palestinian child soaked in blood holding on to the collar of a Medic and saying, “Please don’t leave me. All my family members are dead”. I could not find the manner that could fit for crying on the occasion. I have retweeted it.

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