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Gaza is under siege . . . as world commemorates International Day for Prevention of Violent Extremism

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THE UN General Assembly (UNGA), which is the main deliberative, policy making and representative organ of the United Nations, declared February 12 as the ‘International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism’ in order to raise awareness of threats linked to violent extremism, as and when conducive to terrorism, and to enhance international co-operation in this regard.

This year’s theme is ‘Living Together: Fostering Community Resilience to Prevent Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism’.

Violent extremism is an insult to the purposes and principles of the UN. It undermines peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.

No country or region is immune to its impacts. Violent extremism is a diverse

phenomenon, without clear definition. It is neither new nor exclusive to any region, nationality or system of belief.

Nevertheless, in recent years, terrorist groups have shaped our image of violent extremism and the debate on how to address this threat.

These groups’ message of intolerance in religious, cultural, social and political perceptions has had drastic consequences for many regions of the world.

Holding territory and using social media for real-time communication of their atrocious crimes, they seek to challenge the world’s shared values of peace, justice and human dignity.

The spread of violent extremism has further aggravated an already unprecedented humanitarian crisis which surpasses the boundaries of any one region.

Millions of people have fled territories controlled by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Migratory flows have increased both away from and towards the conflict zones, involving those seeking safety and those lured into the conflict as foreign terrorist fighters, further destabilising the regions concerned. Nothing can justify violent extremism, but it must be acknowledged that it does not occur in a vacuum.

Narratives of grievances, actual or perceived injustices, promised empowerment and sweeping change become attractive where human rights are being violated, good governance is being ignored and aspirations are being crushed.

As the world commemorates the International Day for Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism, it is with great sadness that today marks the 133th day since Israel launched a gruesome, ruthless, barbaric and callous attack on the Gaza Strip, backed by its ally, the US.

Israel is heartlessly destroying the Gaza Strip, killing civilians, among them children and pregnant women, as well as attacking hospitals and finishing off the injured civilians.

As of February 3, more than 30 571 civilians had been killed, 13 624 children persecuted and 7 656 women massacred in this horrific attack codenamed ‘Peaceful Occupation by Israel’.

Journalists were not spared either as by the same date, 121 journalists had been callously exterminated for executing their

professional duties.

Healthcare professionals are also being attacked and by 3 February, 309 had been killed while 380 were injured.

Civil Defence workers are also under siege; by February 3, the department had suffered 41 fatalities and 135 casualties.

This attack has resulted in the displacement of 2 000 000 people, with 79 200 homes completely shattered and 170 press headquarters destroyed.

The attack has also seen 334 schools, 1 720 industrial facilities, 478 mosques, three churches, 235 health facilities and 199 heritage sites, among others, destroyed.

In an interview with The Patriot, the Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Dr Tamer Almassri, said: “Israel wants clean occupation of our holy land through mercilessly torturing and killing our people.

“They are violating the values of human rights, freedom of speech and press freedom whilst the world is watching.

“They are blocking humanitarian aid, choosing the type of aid they want to enter Gaza.

“They choose humanitarian aid to enter Gaza because they want to torture people. “Palestinian people are dying of hunger because Israel is blocking trucks with food aid.

“I have noticed that the only criticism Israel is getting from its allies, specifically America, is to kill Palestinians smoothly not stop the gruesome genocide.

“We have not heard any call for a ceasefire from the Americans; actually Americans want Israel to kill our civilians by giving them the green light to do whatever they want yet they claim to be the authors of democracy and champions of human rights.

“They are supporting Israel with weapons, billions of dollars and their biased media to spread their propaganda to justify their criminal apartheid occupation of Gaza.”

He went on to say that Gaza will be an example to all, every country and every political figure who is blind to the West’s double standards, and this provides the world with a practical lesson not to believe in the so-called ‘American values’.

His Excellency Dr Almassri went further to say: “We are paying the price to save the dignity not of the Palestinians only, but all the oppressed people in the world.

“I want to conclude my appreciating the support we are receiving from the Republic of Zimbabwe, led by His Excellency Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the solidarity messages we are receiving all the time from ZANU PF, the ruling Party, against Israel’s massacres in Gaza Strip.

“We are in total support of the Republic of Zimbabwe against Western-imposed sanctions because we see it as a collective punishment in retaliation for ZANU PF’s highly successful land reform programme.

“The principles between our beloved nations — Zimbabwe and Palestine — can be the flame to continue our struggle against the Israeli apartheid occupation and the Western illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.”

It is, however, saddening that, in December 2023, two months after Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the US has defied appeals from its Arab al- lies and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres to back an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, telling the Security Council that to do so would merely plant the seeds of the next war.

The US vetoed a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, despite a dramatic warning from the UN Secretary-General that civil order was breaking down and the risk of a mass exodus into Egypt growing, with as yet unclear consequences for the rest of the region.

The vote in the 15-member Council was 13-1, with the UK abstaining.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed calls for a Gaza ceasefire deal insisting victory is ‘within reach’.

As recently as February 6, Netanyahu rejected the terms of a ceasefire

in Gaza, proposed by HAMAS, and rebuffed US pressure to move more rapidly towards a mediated settlement to the war, saying there could be no solution to Israel’s security is- sues except ‘absolute victory’ over the militant group.

The Israeli Prime Minister also confirmed that the Israeli Defence Forces had been instructed to commence operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where the population has been swelled by hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

In a sharp rebuff to the US administration under Joe Biden and the visiting US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Netanyahu said it would re- quire several more months of fighting before HAMAS was defeated, suggesting victory was ‘within reach’.

“There is no alternative for the military collapse of HAMAS. There will not be a civilian collapse of HAMAS rule without a military one.”

Osama Hamdan, a HAMAS official, told a news conference in Beirut that Netanyahu’s continued pursuit of war in Gaza showed his goal was ‘genocide’ against the Palestinian people.

On February 11, a day before the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism, Rafah City was attacked 45 minutes after US President Biden had spoken to Isra- el’s Netanyahu for five hours on tele- phone — an attack which resulted in the death of 120 civilians.

Until then, Rafah was the only safe haven left for desperate palestinians

fleeing Israeli terror.

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