The Terrorist Attack of Hamas on Israel

Lucio Levi
Member of UEF Federal Committee, Former President of UEF Italy

The unbounded ferocity of the Hamas attack on Israel, which took place on October 7, 2023, was the deadliest terrorist attack undergone by Israel. More than 1200 people have been killed, more than 5600 have been wounded and at least 230 hostages have been deported to Gaza. The attacks against civilian population and the capture of hostages are war crimes which show a total contempt for any moral principle, are contrary to the principles of international law, should be qualified as crimes against humanity and cannot be justified in any circumstance. The black Saturday reawakened the nightmare of the Shoah. And yet there was a time when the dream of the peaceful coexistence of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples seemed at hand, the time of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995. A more recent attempt were the Abraham Accords, which the attack of Hamas aimed, in all likelihood, to shelve.  Of course, it would be a mistake to place on the same level the aggressor (Hamas) and the victim  (Israel). The appalling slaughter accomplished by Hamas has been qualified by Jürgen Habermas as a crime of an “insurmountable cruelty”. The reaction of Israel aims to an opposite and equal goal: the destruction of Hamas. Both plans are clearly impracticable. Hitler killed more than six million Jews, but he could not attain the goal of destroying the Jewish people. Likewise, for Israel it is impossible to cancel the Palestinian people. We should not forget that Israel was founded by stateless and homeless “people like me”, said Primo Levi, people who survived the horrors of WWII, and had their concentration-camp ID numbers tattooed on their arms.

In Jewish tradition is rooted the idea of building a new type of society where the exploitation of labour would not exist any longer, a society based on equality and justice, aiming to create a cradle of social and political innovation, symbolised by the Jewish people of diaspora, the wandering people deaf to the allurement of nationalism, by the University, the vehicle of  dissemination of the universality of knowledge, by the collective farms (the kibbutzim) intended to fertilise the desert. I always have looked with suspicion at the Zionist ideology conceived by Theodor Herzl aiming to transform the Jewish people, a stateless nation, into a nation-state like the others, doomed to an inevitable endless war against its Arab neighbours.

The current phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is different from the previous ones. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip is a heinous crime, that has produced systematic human rights violations against the Palestinians living there. But to attack hospitals, to shoot hundreds of innocent victims, to behead children, to rape women, to desecrate corpses, to expel one million people from their homes are most atrocious crimes. Also in atrocities it is possible (and necessary) to identify a hierarchy. Now the risk is that Israel can go well beyond the borderline which separates self-defence from aggression, so that a wide popular movement is taking shape, assuming the nature of revenge, of iniquitous retaliation and, as a last resort, of a war crime should Gaza become permanently uninhabitable. And in fact protests against the Netanyahu’s government are growing to such an extent that it is charged with genocide. As is known, the Israeli government has been accused of genocide in Gaza by South Africa before the International Court of Justice, being the number of civilian casualties approximately at 24,000 in the first 100 days after the Hamas attack.

According to the data provided by Amnesty International, 600,000 Jewish Israeli settlers are living on occupied Palestinian land, 100,000 hectares of land have been appropriated by Israel from Palestinians since 1967, 50,000 homes and structures have been demolished over the past fifty years, 4.9 million Palestinians are facing daily restrictions in their movement.

As asserted by Shimri Zameret, a courageous civil rights activist and an opposer of the Israeli regime, in an article published in this issue of The Federalist Debate, “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is the root cause of the conflict”.

Of course, it should be recognised to Israel the right to operate for defeating the terrorist threat of Hamas, since it represents a threat for the whole international community. What is unacceptable is that Israel’s reaction violates the rules of international law and takes inhuman measures, e.g. blocking the supply of basic commodities and utility services to Gaza such as food, water, drugs, heating, electric lighting, etc. The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question does not lie in the impossible attempt of one people to prevail over the other. Decades of conflicts have shown that that is a dead-end road. The only positive solution is to explore the way leading to a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples under a common law. As long as the Israeli and Palestinian peoples do not recognize the mutual right to share the same land, not only there will not be peace in the Middle-East, but the political stability of the whole world will be exposed to the danger of the interruption of the vital flow of oil and gas and other commodities from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

The example of the European Union shows the way to follow if peoples want to get out of the practice of violence and regulate their relations through a common law. The peoples of Europe have learnt from the experience of the massacres of WWII that only federal institutions can ensure peace. The first step to take, if we want to pursue the largely agreed solution of  two states for two peoples, is the creation of a Palestinian state, that, for the time being, does not exist and is rejected by both Hamas and Netanyahu. As the European experience shows, the initial federal core must remain open to the neighbouring middle eastern states, making the Israeli-Palestinian federation the starting point of a federative process destined to involve the Middle Eastern region. It is worth recollecting that Jacques Delors, inspired by the example of the European Coal and Steel Community, stated that a first federal core could be created in the Middle East around an energy and water Community. Lastly, it is appropriate to point out that Israel and Hamas are supported by powerful international alliances of states, being Hamas backed by a coalition of Arab states led by Iran, which pursue the goal of destroying Israel, and Israel is supported by a large coalition of countries of the Western World led by the United States and the European Union.

A security community – like the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) created in the large geo-strategic space occupied by Europe, Russia, some republics of the former Soviet Union, the US and Canada – should also be created in the Mediterranean, to pursue the reduction of weapons, the creation of a nuclear-free space in the Middle East, the formation of a Palestinian state which develops federative relations with Israel within the framework of the Arab League, the rebuilding of failed states, and the dismantling of the criminal bands that hold the monopoly of the transportation of migrants to Europe. Most of these objectives have been on the political agenda for decades, with no significant progress. The starting point can only be the creation of a climate of trust between all parties involved, as happened when the Helsinki process started.


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