In a place where hopes, dreams, and lives were once bound now stands a land riddled with terror, horror, and death.

Images that harshly portray mass extinction seemingly reduce countless lives into mere numbers. Endless attacks that silence screams and howls consume people with grief and fear. As unrecognized bodies painted with ash gray and red continue to grow in numbers, the heart of the Holy Land now mirrors hell.

One would assume that the current conflict between Israel and Palestine started on the morning of October 7th, but in retrospect, it has been taking place for almost a century. The Islamist militant group Hamas, which translates to Islamic Resistance Movement, launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7 during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. As hundreds of people died and were wounded, the state of Israel declared war on the Gaza Strip, a place which is populated by almost two million Palestinians.

According to the United Nations (UN), it all started in 1917 with the Balfour Declaration. It is a statement of British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” However, this declaration is generally viewed as the main catalyst of the Nakba-the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

During the Mandate, which ran from 1922 to 1947, mass Jewish immigration to Palestinian land started which alarmed the natives. Palestinians protested and were not content with the decision of the British forces to confiscate and hand their land to Jewish settlers. According to Edward Said, a Palestinian-American academic, political activist, and literary critic, the decision was made by European powers on a non-European territory in blatant disregard of the wishes and presence of the native majority in historic Palestine.

The United Nations then adopted Resolution No. 181, calling for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with 55 percent of the land going to the Jews. In 1948, or what Arabs regarded as Nakba, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their own homes and thousands were massacred by the Zionist movement. The Jewish state eventually controlled 78 percent of the land which left Palestinians to occupy only the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Natives of the land were infuriated as they felt robbed and deprived of their rights in their own land. This urged them to resist and fight back against the Jewish state. However, groups such as Hamas who attacked Israel still failed to defend their cause, giving “de facto” control to Israel, thus, the Jewish government created a system where Jewish settlers were afforded all the privileges while treating Palestinians as prisoners in their once-occupied land. The Gaza Strip is even regarded by world leaders or experts as “one of the biggest open prisons in the world.”

Gaza Strip, one of the two Palestinian territories (the other being the West Bank), has been the center of destruction for weeks. With over two million Palestinians, it became the largest open prison as it is also controlled by Hamas, which had repeatedly clashed with Palestinian leaders for their extremist movements against the Jewish state. This exposes innocent Palestinians in an endless pit of danger as they live in Gaza. Thus, it steered Israel to target not only members of Hamas but also innocent Palestinians.

As reported by the Center for Constitutional Rights, it is evident that Israel is undertaking mass destruction of the Palestinian people. As part of their ground assaults, the Israeli military has eased its rules of operation and granted its military freedom to shoot anyone whom they come across within the Gaza Strip. With that, the politicians and forces in Israel have committed themselves to turning Gaza into ashes and eradicating the Palestinians. Furthermore, this is the fifth time that Israel launched military assaults on Gaza as it also happened in 2008-2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021.

To perpetually eliminate the Palestinians who are now living in northern Gaza along with converting it into an army security space, Israel is pushing the Palestinians to leave their place and move to the south. However, as the Israeli government instructed them to go south, there have been reports that they are still targeting the Palestinians as they seek a safe location.

Furthermore, leaked Israeli documents that suggest the mass relocation of Gaza’s 2.3 million people to Egypt leading to a possible ethnic cleansing. According to the UN, ethnic cleansing refers to "a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means of the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas." This may come into forms such as murder, enslavement, deportation, torture, and rape which constitute crimes under international law, and can be crimes against humanity or genocide.

For years, Palestinians have become prisoners on their own land as the occupation became stronger. A lot of people may wonder why Palestinians can’t just leave. In an article written by Bobby Ghosh on The Washington Post, it said that the vast majority of people living in Gaza are already refugees from towns and villages in Israel and the West Bank. They have nowhere to flee because of the fear of getting murdered. Thus, they can be violently shot by militants on the borders. But in the words of Ghosh, the little strip of homeland they have that is Gaza is the last reminder of their Palestinian identities. Moreover, they may not be able to or allowed to come back once they leave the Gaza soil.

International calls for a ceasefire have been requested from the two states as almost four weeks have passed since the endless attack on Gaza. The violence that is surfacing in the media and various social media outlets should not be normalized and seen as some form of content to entertain viewers. The extremist movements both from Israel and Hamas derail the peace for both sides, especially Palestinians in Gaza. Neither the innocent people's attempt to fight back nor to abide by the system is seemingly effective as impending doom is still creeping up on them by every minute the conflict is continuing.

“My grandmother, Shafira, used to tell me stories about the Nakba. I could never truly imagine it-but now, I feel I am living it.” These are the words from Gaza journalist Ahmed Dremly, referring to the traumatic event his grandmother experienced in 1948.

The ongoing conflict raises the numbers of killed Palestinians to hundreds daily; a total of 9,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since they started their onslaught on the Gaza Strip on October 7, where more than 32,000 more have been injured.

The hospitals are full and cannot accommodate Palestinians because of the shortage of electricity, clean water, internet, fuel, and medical supplies or life-saving treatments which caused families to be forced to bury their loved ones in mass graves because of the insufficient space in cemetery grounds.

Moreover, one of the reasons why Israel has a strong defense or military system is because of the support of the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK). Joshua Espena, a lecturer for International Relations shared in an interview with GMA Integrated News that the US is not being a neutral mediator and is treating Israel as an ally. The US has supplied stockpiles of ammunition and air defense weapons to Israel, even as criticisms were mounted on the current administration for contributing significant civilian casualties to Palestine. Moreover, the UK is also sending surveillance aircraft, navy ships, and hundreds of marines to support Israel.

How many more images or videos of children roaming in the streets with no family member left can we bear to see? How much longer can we endure witnessing multiple bombs landing on hospitals, schools, and churches filled with innocent people who have no clue on whether they are next in line? How can we say that it all started on October 7th when this has been an ongoing illegal occupation for years now? Our past is not far from what they are endlessly facing right now. We have experienced how it feels to be controlled in our own land. Our resistance was not an easy route against colonialism but we prevailed and sought peace.

Let us not get used to the sight of bodies piled up in mass graves. Let us not get used to hearing cries from women and children covered with plaster and blood. Let us not get used to witnessing militants shoot parents who are holding their terrified sons and daughters. They are not just numbers but real people with names, dreams, and stories.

The Philippines can relate to this ongoing Palestine-Israel crossfire as we have gone under foreign occupation and fought for liberty in our history. Yet, while numerous nations, especially alliances such as the UN and European Union attempt to alleviate the tightening horns of Palestine and Israel through rallies, peace negotiations, and financial aid no one has raised the white flag yet as it is not a conflict that can be eradicated overnight. At its core, the Palestine-Israel conflict is a long-existing territorial feud. From this vantage point, with the resuming conflict, the world seems a worried audience. Only a worried audience.