May was a month filled with loss and sorrow.

India experienced a terrifying second surge of COVID infections, with the true number of infections still unknown due to low testing rates, but at its peak, it was estimated that there were 23 million cases.

Israel and Palestine exchanged fire for eleven days, both unleashing rockets and airstrikes. Israel returned fire after Hama, the militant group running the Gaza Strip, launched rockets in protest after Muslims were injured while attending Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The seriousness of this latest conflict between Israel and Palestine raised concerns about the risk of a full scale war.

Both of these stories were splayed across the news in May, the images that accompanied them showed us devastation along with sheer human determination to survive.

India

May was a long and painful month for India, with COVID-19 numbers spiking, bringing in a terrifying second wave of cases.

The numbers for May varied, with the Health Ministry estimating more than 23 million cases by mid-May. However, that number is estimated to be ten times that, due to low testing and high-density populations.

Crematoriums reached capacity, and to accommodate, makeshift crematoriums were set up in car parks. Crematorium workers were often left with bodies that weren’t identified. These workers, reportedly, prayed over the unidentified bodies, and scattered their ashes in the river, a duty usually performed by the family.

Vaccinating the population of India seemed like the natural answer, however India faced a vaccine shortage. Though India was producing 80 million vaccine doses a month, the need for more was obvious. Many states tried to arrange deals with vaccine suppliers but failed to do so, due to terms and conditions that came with importing the Moderna vaccine. Punjab, a state to the north with a population of 27 million, were unable to import more vaccines, due to a clause in Moderna’s company policy, stating the company could only deal with Prime Minister Modi and his government directly. As a result Punjab had to restrict access to the vaccine, as state authorities claim they only received 4.4 million does, only enough to vaccinate 16% of the population.

As the month came to an end, India saw a decrease in case numbers. Though this served as a reminder of just how quickly COVID can bring a country to its knees, but, with a keen eye to the future, India is back standing and dusting off its knees.

The Israeli-Gaza Conflict

For many of us, the most recent conflict between Israel and Palestine may have appeared to have come from nowhere. This, however, is far from the truth. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for decades. The roots of the most recent conflict, however, stem from the 1950s, when six Palestinian families moved into homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district in Jerusalem. In early May, these families were evicted for unknown reasons, resulting in clashes between Palestinian and Israeli security forces in the neighbourhood. This escalated when Israeli-Jewish gangs ripped Palestinians from their homes, beating them and ransacking their properties. A school, a synagogue, and a hospital were damaged in the clashes, sustaining damage from stones and fire bombs.

Clashes also broke out at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most sacred places in Islam, and also serving as the Temple Mount, one of the holiest places in Judaism. Muslims were gathering for their usual Friday prayers, when large groups of Israelis entered to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. The resulting clashes were between Palestinians and Israeli police, with hundreds of Palestinians injured.

Hamas then sent an ultimatum to Israel, asking for the withdrawal of troops from the mosque and Sheikh Jarrah, or they would attack. The deadline came without response from Israel, and Hamas launched their airstrikes.

President Netanyahu claimed he was targeting Hamas ‘secret tunnels’, but the bombs found their way into people’s homes in large, densely populated cities. The bombings ripped families apart, orphaning children, widowing partners, and the calls of peoples’ names were heard as people desperately searched through the rubble. While Israel has a right to defend itself from incoming airstrikes, the real question is to what extent?

In the eleven days that Hamas and Israel exchanged fire 256 Palestinians, 66 of which children, were killed. On Israel’s side, 13 people, 2 of which were children, were killed. None of this should have happened and no one should have died.

On May 21st a ceasefire was signed. As Netanyahu turns down for the night, the people of Gaza struggle to come to grips with the carnage and destruction those eleven day brought. While both sides suffered, it is clear there is an imbalance here, one many seem to be scared to question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *