The recent escalation in violence in Israel is unprecedented.
At the time of writing, the number of lives lost is in the thousands, mostly Palestinians. This is in addition to the destruction of properties and infrastructure from the assault by Israelis war machines.
Everyone should have seen this coming.
Yes, it is clear that Israel is at fault. No doubt that the far-right policies by Netanyahu’s government has left the Palestinians, especially those in Gaza with little options. In addition, the government has allowed or given tacit approval to Jewish extremists to desecrate the Holy al-Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, the Muslim countries have neglected their responsibility to protect al-Aqsa mosque, and failed to provide diplomatic support of their brothers and sisters in faith. The Palestinians are left on their own to handle the issue of occupied territories and the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque.
This was not the case 54 years ago. The Muslim countries then considered the attack on the sanctity of the al-Aqsa Mosque as a serious matter.
In 1969, an arson attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque sparked an uproar Ieading to a major confrontation between Israel and the neighbouring countries.
The event has been described as “an act which plunged the Middle East into its worst crisis since the June, 1967 Arab-Israel war”, and was a key catalyst for the creation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
A strong complaint was submitted to the United Nations Security Council by twenty-five Muslim countries in response to the al-Aqsa arson attempt. A month later, OIC was established on 26th September 1969.
According to the OIC website, “…The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavours to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world…”
Ironically, when the Mosque was desecrated this time round, when the whole population of Gaza was being persecuted and punished daily, denied of their basic rights, the OIC response was just limited to the issuance of lame press statements. There was no concerted effort to work hard on the diplomatic fronts, let alone military mobilisation.
This is hardly surprising considering that a number of the 57 countries making up the OIC have abdicated their responsibility for supporting and defending Palestine and the al-Aqsa Mosque. They abandoned belligerent attitude towards the occupation and agreed to normalise relations with the terrorist state, effectively recognizing and approving the apartheid occupying power.
After Egypt broke ranks in 1978 by signing the Camp David accords, the Casablanca Declaration made Morocco as an Israel’s ally in 1994. In 2020, the Abrahams Accord was signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
In addition, a few other countries such as Jordan, Oman and Sudan have been at working level relationships. In 2021, Bangladesh removed the “except Israel” restrictions on its passports, giving rise to speculations that it will be normalising relations with the Zionist state soon.
Saudi Arabia has also been sending positive signals on normalising relations with Israel.
According to Al-Jazeera in September, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has said that his country was moving steadily closer to normalising relations with Israel, following similar moves from other Gulf countries, and amid a big push by the United States for a Saudi-Israeli deal.
Even the strongest ally of the Palestinian cause, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was singing a different tune lately. In September, after his first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Erdogan said that he hoped to soon start cooperation with Israel on energy drilling and energy networks, as well as on tourism and technology. He also said that he expected Netanyahu to visit Turkey in October or November.
Upon this background of Muslim countries apathy, the Israelis now have a free hand. The occupation forces were getting bolder.
More lands were being confiscated and given to Jewish settlers. The Jewish extremists defiled the Mosque with dirt and spits. Those who resisted, including women and children, were beaten or arrested. Thousands of people were imprisoned.
All these are going on with impunity.
No country could say anything or criticise their uncivilised behaviour. Countries who used to be allies, who could put pressure on the diplomatic front dare not raise a finger. Their tongues were tied.
The Palestinians who were left to fend for themselves had no choice but took matter into their own hands.
They have promised that they will defend their lands. They have taken an oath to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque. They have repeatedly given warnings to the occupying forces to desist.
They had no choice but to fight back and free their lands. They know, they are the last bastion of defence for the al-Aqsa mosque.
Hence, they decided to launch the 7th October al-Aqsa Storm in response to the unfettered aggression by the Israelis. It was a response to occupation and aggression, not an attack per se. Defensive responses in the face of aggression is legitimate.
Their concerted efforts have paid off. Although as expected, the occupying forces responded with force, and many lives are lost, the latest confrontation has put the Palestine discourse back on the world agenda.
Some countries who were on the verge of normalising relations with the Zionist state have stated that they are reviewing their positions. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have issued strong statements condemning the Israelis massacre. The United Nations security council have also taken some cognizant of the severity of the issue.
More and more people in countries who are supporting Israel are opening their eyes to the lies of their governments and their mainstream media.
In the latest development, the OIC will be convening a special meeting on Wednesday 18th October. We pray that the meeting will provide an avenue for a real introspection for this organisation and take the right decision to deter further aggression from the apartheid state.
Prof Dr Omar Yaakob is a member of the Central Committee of Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia