Bangladesh’s Support for Ending Gaza-Israel War

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Israel is conducting a gross violation of human rights in Gaza. Since October 7, Israel has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including at least 4,324 children and 2,823 women. More than 26,475 Palestinians in Gaza have been injured, including at least 8,663 children and 6,327 women. Israel is creating a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza by the massive destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure – including hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, and the Islamic University of Gaza; by cutting its access to water, electricity, fuel, food, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid. Between October 7 and November 7, 270 Israeli attacks on Gazan healthcare facilities have been documented. Eighteen out of thirty five (51%) hospitals are not functioning in Gaza. Ironically, the world is just witnessing Israel’s mass killing in Gaza instead of stopping it. The future generations will not forgive the international community.

While many powerful countries are silent to stop Israeli invasion in Gaza, Bangladesh is strongly urging to stop the war and save humanity. In fact, Bangladesh has been supporting the cause of the Palestinians since Bangabandhu’s time. Bangabandhu supported the cause of the Palestinians at the UN forum and other bilateral meetings. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a one-day state mourning on October 21, 2023 commemorating the deaths of Palestinians in Israel attacks. She also asked all the mosques and other religious institutions to offer prayers for the Palestinian Muslims and all other non-Muslims who suffered atrocities. She also mentioned Israelis as usurpers who occupied Palestinians’ land and said, “The lands will have to be given back to the people of Palestine,” while reiterating that the war would have to be stopped immediately.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina strongly condemned Israeli atrocities and called for an immediate ceasefire. The premier also urged to ensure humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip. During the recently held international conference on Women in Islam in Jeddah, Sheikh Hasina said, “I call upon all parties to ensure humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. I urge world leaders to end this dreadful war, collective punishment, and illegal occupation.” Given the possibility of the violence spreading throughout the Middle East, her statement is a brave stand for the peace and security of the entire area.

In that same session, the PM expressed her position on behalf of the Palestinians. She offered her support to the sovereign state of Palestine as she called on all other nations to remain united on this issue. She clearly declared, “We must remain united for an independent and sovereign state of Palestine. I will continue to do my part on behalf of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.” Therefore, a sovereign Palestine is what Sheikh Hasina believes in, which is a realistic solution to the long Israel-Palestine conflict. Her stance was also reflected in 2018 when she voiced her distress over the shifting of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Even in 2021, when Israeli violence spread over Palestine, Sheikh Hasina wrote a letter to Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to express solidarity.

Bangladesh Prime Minister has also supported the cause of the Palestinians at the UN forums. For instance, in a recently held (September 2023) UN General Assembly debate, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina boldly said that “It is deeply troubling that the legitimate rights of Palestinian people have remained unmet. We will continue our efforts to realize the rights of the people of Palestine. Bangladesh will stand by Palestine”. Amid the situation, the United Nations at the 76th General Assembly proposed a resolution calling for an ‘Israel-Hamas truce’. Surprisingly, 14 countries, including the United States, voted against the resolution, while the United Kingdom abstained from voting. However, 120 countries, including Bangladesh, voted in favor of the resolution.

When hospitals in Gaza were smashed down by the Israeli bombers, Sheikh Hasina denounced the attack immediately and reiterated her stance on the ceasefire while addressing a program marking Sheikh Russell Day 2023. She was deeply concerned with the dreadful condition faced by innocent people, including women and children, in Gaza; hence, she called on the Health Ministry to send urgent medical aid to the war-stricken Gaza. For the greater well-being of the world, she urged global leaders to stop the arms race and the war. Her stance on peace and prosperity was ascertained as she said, “We want peace as it gives prosperity, while war brings destruction. So, we don’t want war; rather, we want peace. We always work to establish peace.”

National Parliament of Bangladesh condemned the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and passed a resolution for ending the war urgently. Over the years, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her strong support for Palestine. She has been criticizing Israel as a usurper of Palestinian lands. Being a believer in a sovereign Palestine state, she has been calling upon the world leaders to support the Palestinian cause. Hence, when the recent attack on Gaza broke out and a dire humanitarian condition arrived, she could not stop herself from condemning Israel and expressing her solidarity with the people of Palestine and the sufferers in Gaza.

A thing that has made Sheikh Hasina very particular from other leaders is her own pain. “We know their pain as we two sisters had become orphans in 1975,” she said. “I had seen with my own eyes the bodies lying down at different parts of Dhaka city,” she added. These are experiences lacked by most of the world leaders. Therefore, the woe she feels for the Palestinians is no match for other leaders.

– Dr. Md. Shariful Islam is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Rajshahi. He is also an adjunct Research Fellow at the KRF Center of Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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