The scent of a fresh Nakba

The scent of a fresh Nakba lingers in the air. Just a week ago, like so many others, I was taken aback by the unfolding events in Israel. It was a moment I could hardly fathom. At the time, I was going about my work in the home care industry, preparing breakfast for one of our clients. The background hum of the BBC, murmuring about Palestine, filled the room. I initially dismissed it as yet another minor incident and continued making scrambled eggs. However, when I finally turned my attention to the news, the gravity of the situation hit me. Israel’s sovereignty had been breached and defiled by Hamas – they had infiltrated through sea, land, and air, catching the Jewish state completely off guard.

I realised they lacked the capability to fend off such an assault for days. It was clear that Hamas was aiming to inflict harm upon Israel, and they ran rampant, causing havoc and tragedy. They took both combatants and non-combatants hostage, mercilessly targeting innocent people and turning a music concert into a bloodbath. Various online videos touted Hamas and its supposed adherence to Islamic values, which were clearly propagandistic. But do they truly comprehend Islamic principles during times of conflict? This brings to mind the 10 rules laid down by Caliph Abu Bakar: ‘Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.’ One might argue that living by these tenets can be challenging in a world rife with collateral damage and predator drones. From the perspective of Israel, this may well be their 9/11 moment, prompting many prominent far-right commentators and politicians to urge Benjamin Netanyahu to dismantle Hamas. However, there’s often a blurred line between Hamas and Palestine in the eyes of many.

It is now time for rational thinkers to step forward and recognise that the Palestinian issue is far from resolution, and Hamas shows no signs of backing down. Israel finds itself wrestling with a dilemma similar to what the U.S. encountered in Afghanistan and Northwest Waziristan. When you take someone’s father or son, the risk of radicalisation becomes all too real. I firmly believe that no sensible person wishes to send their sons off to die, and there must be more to the story than meets the eye. While some may attribute it to simplistic reasons like the promise of heavenly rewards, I think such explanations are overly narrow and divert our attention from the real causes of resistance.

I could delve into the intricate history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it’s a complex tale that would require an abundance of time and attention. Right now, Israel has initiated its offensive against Hamas, targeting what they call ‘Hamas Targets.’ They’ve given warnings for people to evacuate the areas, but here lies the complexity: Hamas isn’t a conventional army with settlements you can pinpoint on a map. Their strength lies in their ability to blend among the population and employ guerrilla warfare tactics that have proven resilient over time. 

The casualty count on the Palestinian side continues to rise, and it’s a toll that’s hard to bear. But the question that weighs heavy on my mind is, how many lives need to be lost before peace can truly take root? I believe that no matter what Israel does, it won’t bring solace to the grieving families because this isn’t a war that can be ‘won.’

As a person who values reason and empathy, I can’t help but feel for the victims on both sides. It’s clear that not every person on either side desires this conflict. So, I ask, how many more lives must be sacrificed before the parties involved come to the table for meaningful dialogue?

This brings to mind a memorable scene from Doctor Who, when the Zygons invaded. The Doctor wisely said, ‘Because it’s always the same. When you fire the first shot, no matter how justified you may feel, you have no idea whose lives will be forever altered. You don’t know whose children will scream and suffer. How many hearts will shatter, how much blood will be shed… before everyone finally does what they should have done from the very beginning? Sit down and talk.’

Our time-traveling friend from Gallifrey might have a point. How long can this carnage continue? There has to be a moment when you forget what you’re even fighting for. As someone who cherishes stability and abhors the horrors of war, I implore both sides to lay down their weapons and engage in sincere negotiations for a ceasefire.


* Mo Waqas is a member in Middlesbrough and the PPC for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East.

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  • Katharine Pindar 17th Oct '23 - 3:18pm

    Very well said, Mo Waqas. Did you see the mother who has just lost her son pleading on Newsnight last night for love to prevail, for all the mothers and grandmothers and believers in peace to strive for it? It was intensely moving. I also found hope in reading in Saturday’s Times that among all the horror of the carnage in southern Israel on October 7 that at least one Hamas fighter, breaking into a house and confronting a mother and her two small children, said “I am a Muslim. I will not hurt you.”

  • Peter Wrigley 17th Oct '23 - 5:49pm

    Thank you Mr Waqas: beautifully put, and much more sensitive than anything from our leading politicians, including those in our party.

  • Thank you Mo for an important, insightful and much needed contribution to discussions on the dangerous situation we have in this current crisis.

  • Thank you for this article full of insight, empathy and common sense as to reality.

    Such a tragic situation beyond comprehension for most of us.

    Thanks again.

  • I appreciate the sentiments behind Mo’s words, but the stark reality is that if Israel were to agree a ceasefire now, Hamas and their Iranian backers, would use it as they always have: not to negotiate a peace deal they don’t believe in, but to restock for the next terror attack. With an enemy like that, it seems to me that Israel has two choices: (a) grin and bear it, which no other government would do in the circumstances; or (b) try its best to degrade Hamas and hope that a more moderate leadership emerges with whom peace negotiations are possible. That too is an ugly choice, as Hamas uses its civilians as human shields and hides its armaments in civilian infrastructure. However, temporary cease fires have been tried for years now and they never produce results. Sadly, Israel probably has to press on with its attack on Gaza and do its best to minimize civilian casualties. Please God the Egyptians will allow a human corridor and the Israelis are now allowing in humanitarian aid.

  • Thanks for this Mo. Your sentiments are the same as mine. There must be another way to end this conflict. Both sides have tried violence in repeated deadly cycles that only leave grieving relatives, and (sadly) calls for vengeance.
    To allow Gaza & Southern Israel to have the quiet they need , two things must happen, 1) Hamas must be removed from Gaza, not by Israeli force but by a neutral one, perhaps the Arab League, and a civilian government established committed to peace and 2) Israel must end its blockade of Gaza and allow food, water fuel & electricity back in, with appropriate security checks that no weapons are smuggled in or that none of these goods go to the armed groups. Only then can the two communities start to rebuild & repair the damage done.

  • Malik Asfand Yar 20th Oct '23 - 10:05pm

    Sit down and talk!
    Well said.
    That’s the ultimate solution

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