Saturday, March 2, 2024 | 22:51 WIB

Israel-Hamas conflict: A notion of belonging beyond National Security

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Jakarta, IO – With the escalating conflict between the Palestinian group Hamas and Israeli force, many of Israeli’s allies including the USA, a number of European states, India-have conveyed their solidarity for Israel and condemned the attack and violence by the Hamas. 

A surprised attack known as operation “Aqsa typhoon” by the Hamas was launched from Gaza on 6 oct, Saturday at dawn during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. It is reported that several rockets were fired into southern Israel by Hamas and the most fighters entered through breaches in security barriers separating Gaza and Israel.

A motorboat carrying fighters was also seen heading to Zikim, an Israeli coastal town with a military base. The Israeli town of Sderot, another community Be’eri, and the town of Ofakim, 30km (20 miles) east of Gaza were raided by Hamas. Several Israeli hostages are being held by the group in Gaza now. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated, “We are at war.” 

According to local reports, the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip has resulted in a tragic loss of life and numerous casualties. It is reported that approximately 256 Palestinians have lost their lives in the Gaza Strip, with an additional 1,800 individuals sustaining injuries. On the Israeli side, it has been reported that at least 300 individuals have tragically lost their lives.

The United Nation Security Council is holding emergency closed consultation over the escalating violence. As this attack on Israel questions its national security policy, my article argues that the escalating violence between the Israeli force and Hamas is not merely about politics or national security policy but also about the notion of identity. 

Since the Six-Day War in 1967, the major political issue in Israel has revolved around the debate about the future of the West Bank and Gaza, often referred to as the Palestinian problem. Even though Israel’s domestic and foreign policies are driven by the concept of “national security,” it is essential to recognize that this security paradigm is deeply rooted in Jewish identity and Zionism.

As the author Shlomo Avineri mentioned in his article “Ideology and Israel’s Foreign Policy,” there are two main schools of thought regarding the border issue of Israel. One school supports the idea of territorial expansion and Jewish settlement in the West Bank, which implies incorporating a large number of Palestinian Arabs into a Jewish state.

On the other hand, the sociological school of thought opposes the aforementioned idea, as it believes that acquiring additional territory would bring about a fundamental change in the sociological and demographic nature of Jewish society in Israel. 

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wholeheartedly supports Jewish settlement in the West Bank, despite it being considered illegal under international law. In June, Netanyahu approved a plan for the construction of 4,560 housing units in various areas of the West Bank.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, nearly 750,000 Israelis now reside in 250 illegal settlements in the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. As a result of this ongoing process of illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank, Palestinian Arabs have witnessed territorial occupation by Israelis, the demolition of their homes, attacks on their communities by Jewish settlers, and unfair treatment towards their community. 

In his article “The Clash of Civilizations,” author Samuel P. Huntington contends that the significant divisions among humankind and the primary source of conflict will be cultural. When decisions were made regarding Israel and Palestine, the Europeans did so without adequately considering the major factor of “cultural identity.”

The nature of Israel as a Jewish state is inherently controversial, as it revolves around the notion of belonging. Israel is defined as a ‘Jewish’ state where the official language is Hebrew. This definition shapes the understanding of Israeli citizenship. However, for those who are neither non-Jewish nor Hebrew speakers but have been living within the territory of Israel, they possess a distinct cultural identity and history. This raises the fundamental question about “notion of belonging”. 

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