During the ongoing Conference on Contemporary Thought in the Muslim World, Prof. Syed Farid Alatas of the National University of Singapore and Dr. Berdal Aral of Istanbul Medeniyet University shared their assessments on the situation in Palestine. They both agreed that Israel has disregarded international law in Gaza and called for a judicial system to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
Alatas noted that there is a growing level of awareness and support for Palestine among the people of Europe and the USA. He believes that this political consciousness has strengthened compared to previous events, as more people in the West are recognizing the issues surrounding Israel's control over Palestine. However, he also pointed out that while individuals may be speaking out against the massacre, many Western governments remain silent on the matter.
Alatas expressed that the hypocritical stance of Western governments in their handling of the Ukraine conflict can be compared to their stance on Palestine. He stated that the ongoing issues of apartheid, racism, and occupation have contributed to a heightened awareness. Alatas emphasized that the liberation of Palestine is a long-term effort and cannot be achieved immediately, as history has shown with other liberation movements. While the outcome of the war in Gaza remains uncertain, Alatas noted the potential for people to make an impact through a similar approach used in ending apartheid in South Africa - advocating for boycotts and pressuring governments to isolate Israel.
Alatas adamantly declared that violence and warfare were inevitable in colonial administration, stressing how the exploited were dehumanized in countries like Algeria, India, and Indonesia. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Muslim world's support for Palestine paled in comparison to the West's unwavering support for Israel.
According to Alatas, the issue at hand was not the Muslim world's lack of support for resistance, but rather their lack of political will. He urged leaders of the Muslim world to work towards isolating Israel and pressuring Western nations to choose between their own interests or those of Israel. By following a similar approach used against South Africa and its apartheid regime, it is possible that this pressure could lead to a change in the West's stance on supporting Israel.
Prof. Dr. Berdal Aral said that Israel's recent attacks in Gaza have violated numerous fundamental principles of international law. He emphasized that "The land is under occupation and controlled by Israel, making it difficult for the people to enter and exit freely. As a result of these attacks, which come after a long period of blockade and military siege, all forms of war crimes have been committed in Gaza."
Aral further highlighted that according to international law, particularly the Geneva Convention, there must be a clear distinction made between civilians and soldiers during times of conflict. However, in this case, there has been no discrimination as even hospitals, schools and civilian areas have been targeted.
Aral said: "The relocation of individuals from north to south is considered a war crime. However, it must be emphasized that genocide has taken place in Gaza. This includes actions such as targeting and harming civilians based on their ethnic or religious backgrounds, which are also classified as war crimes." Aral also added that denying essential necessities like water, food, and medicine is another form of war crime.
Noting the possibility of Israel facing trial for its actions in Gaza, Aral underlined that the ICC has taken action by launching an investigation. According to Aral, the court has the authority to prosecute all Israeli officials and other countries may also have jurisdiction under their criminal laws if applicable charges such as genocide or crimes against humanity are present.
Aral noted that the United Nations (UN) General Assembly could potentially be another avenue for prosecuting Israel. He pointed out that the UN Security Council had previously created a court to address similar situations in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, but due to the USA's potential veto, this option may not be feasible in the context of Palestine. Aral pointed a finger at that: "The General Assembly, on the other hand, does not have a veto mechanism and while its decisions are non-binding, they often hold weight among member states. Therefore, if the Islamic world joins forces with regions such as Africa, Latin America, and Asia, there is potential for a court to be established in Palestinian territories that can hold Israeli officials accountable for their crimes."
"The upcoming trial in Israel will hold accountable not just Netanyahu, but also any individuals who are found guilty of war or genocide crimes. This includes government officials and commanders who have committed such offenses," the Turkish academic said in a statement while concluding his evaluation related to the Israel-Palestine conflict.