The Israel-Hamas war is a conflict that has been going on for decades, but recently escalated into a full-scale war that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions more. The war has also affected the international community, including the Philippines, in various ways. In this essay, I will discuss how the Philippines can be affected by the Israel-Hamas war in terms of political, economic, and humanitarian aspects.
The Philippines has a long-standing friendship with Israel, dating back to 1958 when the two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship. The Philippines is one of the few countries that supported the creation of Israel in 1947 and recognized its sovereignty in 1948. The Philippines has also maintained diplomatic relations with Palestine since 1989 and supports a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on the two-state solution.
The Philippines has expressed its solidarity with Israel in its fight against Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that the Philippines will always stand with Israel in this war against the “inhuman terrorist attacks” by Hamas. He also thanked Israel for rescuing over 20 Filipinos and bringing them to safety, while expressing concern for the three Filipinos who remain unaccounted for.
However, the Philippines has also condemned the violence on both sides and called for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue. The Philippines has urged both parties to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians, especially children and women. The Philippines has also joined the United Nations and other countries in calling for an end to the hostilities and a lasting peace in the region.
The Israel-Hamas war may have some economic implications for the Philippines, especially in terms of trade, tourism, and remittances. Israel is one of the Philippines’ trading partners, with bilateral trade amounting to $1.5 billion in 2020. The Philippines exports various agricultural products to Israel, such as bananas, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, and coffee5. The Department of Agriculture said that the impact of the war on the Philippine agri sector is “minimal” as most of the exports are shipped to other parts of Israel that are not affected by the conflict.
Tourism is another sector that may be affected by the war, as Israel is a popular destination for Filipino pilgrims and travelers. According to the Department of Tourism, more than 40,000 Filipinos visited Israel in 2019. However, due to the pandemic and the war, travel to Israel has been restricted and discouraged. The Department of Foreign Affairs has raised Alert Level 2 in Israel, which means non-essential movements are limited among Filipinos there. The DFA has also raised Alert Level 4 in Gaza, which means mandatory evacuation for Filipinos there.
Remittances are another source of income for the Philippines that may be affected by the war. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, there are around 29,000 Filipinos working in Israel, mostly as caregivers for elderly Israelis. These Filipinos send money back home to support their families and contribute to the Philippine economy. However, due to the war, some of them may lose their jobs or face difficulties in sending money. The BSP said that it is monitoring the possible impact of the war on inflation and exchange rates.
The most tragic impact of the war is on the lives and welfare of innocent people caught in the crossfire. The war has caused immense suffering and devastation for both Israelis and Palestinians, especially in Gaza where most of the casualties and damage have occurred. According to the United Nations, more than 200 people have been killed, including over 60 children, and more than 1,400 have been injured since the war began on Oct. 7. More than 58,000 people have been displaced and are staying in UN-run schools or with relatives. The war has also damaged or destroyed vital infrastructure such as roads, water systems, electricity networks, health facilities, schools, and mosques.
The Philippines has expressed its sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the war and offered humanitarian assistance to both sides. The Philippine Red Cross has sent medical supplies and personnel to Gaza to help treat the wounded and provide relief services. The Philippine government has also pledged $1 million to support the UN’s humanitarian appeal for Gaza. The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv has also coordinated with Israeli authorities and Filipino community leaders to ensure the safety and welfare of Filipinos in Israel.
The Israel-Hamas war is a complex and protracted conflict that has far-reaching consequences for both parties involved and for the rest of the world. The Philippines, as a friend of both Israel and Palestine, has a stake in this issue and can be affected by it in various ways. The Philippines has shown its support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ attacks, but also its concern for the plight of the Palestinians and the need for a peaceful solution. The Philippines has also taken measures to protect its economic and humanitarian interests and to assist the victims of the war. The Philippines hopes that the war will end soon and that a lasting peace will be achieved in the region.