Palestine Update 311
How many deaths will it take for Gaza’s blockade to be lifted?
The next war is usually around the corner. Israel lays the blame for every war on militant groups (Note, I did not call them ‘terrorists’) from Gaza. ‘Enough is enough’ is an expression way past its sell-by date. The blockade must simply end. It must not require mediation or dialogue. To imprison an entire Gaza Strip inhabited by 1.8 million people is barbaric. To want the people of Gaza to accept their situation without disapproval is unintelligent. For the world to watch, as if helpless, is coldness. Israel can hardly expect to suppress militancy behind the barbed wires that form the open air prison of Gaza. People who are starved, restricted from work, whose economy is battered and bruised day in and day out, who face the imminent threat of a bomb on their heads by an army that is easily the biggest and most powerful in the region, who see hope fading into a bigger distance each passing day, can only dream of peace. Not just any kind of peace; rather one which offers them dignity and justice. No longer the peace of the graveyard!
Gaza’s blockade is indefensible regardless of what justifications Israel may put forward. Hypocrisy punctuates the world’s response. Powerful nations would rather find oil to soothe the wounds than push Israel into the corner with threats of seclusion and severe sanctions until it releases These same nations often blame resistance movements for the conflict as if the military capacities of Gaza’s militants and the Israeli army were asymmetric. This is not an argument that emanates from political naivety but from governments and political parties who ideologically and tacitly belonging to the colonialist occupation camp.
Palestinians as a whole need release from the bondage they have enforced on them. For the people of Gaza, this must happen with haste because too much suffering has occurred, too many people have been killed by indiscriminate firepower, too many struck by disease because medicines were not available, too many injured without real provocation, too many dead because of hunger, too many homeless, and many more left to languish in prison because they fought a justified fight for freedom.
Every now and then, rays of hope shine through the dark and clouded political calamity. There are guesses that a long-term quiet might dawn. But that is quickly nullified by more conflict and by constant threat.
Indeed, how many more deaths will it take to be known that too many people have died? (Bob Dylan)
Israel’s rare opportunity for long-term quiet on the Gaza Border
About 10 days after the end of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, this time against Islamic Jihad, the army has identified a rare opportunity for progress. The Israeli assassination of senior Islamic Jihad operative Baha Abu al-Ata removed what has been the main threat to calm in the Gaza Strip over the past year. At the same time, the Hamas leadership in Gaza, headed by Yahya Sinwar, is showing great interest in coming to a long-term agreement with Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff supports far-reaching relief measures in Gaza in exchange for assurances of quiet. The final decision rests with the politicians, who are mired in a legal and political crisis centered around three indictments against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as great difficulties in forming a new government. In contrast to the army, the Shin Bet security service’s position on the matter is more restrained, the main point of contention being whether thousands more laborers from the Gaza Strip can be allowed into Israel to work.
Can anything be done to prevent the next massacre of Palestinians?
Every drop of blood spilled is the responsibility of those who perpetuate the occupation – and those whose silence enables the status quo
Once quiet was restored to Israel’s cities after the deadly, targeted attack in Gaza earlier this month and the missiles launched in response, Israel’s citizens quickly reverted to a normal routine. Politicians and the media resumed their nauseatingly familiar normalcy: wallowing in the eternal political swamp, the impossibility of forming the next government and incitement against the country’s Palestinian citizens. Gaza, as usual, will now disappear from the public consciousness in Israel until the next missile is launched.
In the much-battered Gaza Strip, life also reverted to routine: having buried the victims of the latest massacre, among them women and children, Palestinians may now find the time to remove the new rubble, amid ever-deepening poverty, while awaiting the next massacre. And it will come – we know that it will. The mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza has increasingly become normalized. But assuming that this fate is not inevitable, and that the Palestinian people were not created to be oppressed, humiliated, dispossessed and murdered by Israel, how can Palestinians resist this oppression, which has been ongoing for decades? Can anything be done to prevent the next mass murder of Palestinians?
As Gaza falls apart, a new Israel-Hamas war is more likely
A casual observer could be forgiven for presuming Israel and Hamas again stand on the precipice of war as rockets fly over Tel Aviv and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strike key Hamas leadership targets in response. Despite the volatile situation in Gaza this past year, including ongoing attacks incited by Hamas along the border, both sides are exploring a ceasefire rather than escalating to a fourth major conflict in a decade. A form of mutual deterrence has evolved that enables, and indeed encourages, both sides to limit the violence and avoid full-scale war.
While offering a sliver of hope for stability, this tenuous equilibrium between a liberal democracy and a terrorist group could collapse in the near future, due to Gaza’s humanitarian situation and the ubiquitous potential for miscalculation between adversaries. The current incentive for both sides to limit the violence results from various military and political factors in recent years. On the operational level, Israel’s ability to intercept rockets and detect cross-border tunnels from Gaza limits the amount of damage Hamas can inflict, mitigating Israel’s imperative to respond as forcefully or rapidly as it did before these defenses came online.Furthermore, improved technical and intelligence capabilities now enable Israel to target Hamas with greater accuracy, thereby limiting inadvertent Palestinian civilian casualties that could lead to aggressive Hamas retaliation. The IDF has also prevented Hamas from successfully exploiting the March of Return protests to breach the Gaza security barrier and attack nearby Israeli communities, which likely would compel Israel to employ greater force to defend the border than it does currently.
‘Gaza Fights for Freedom’: An antidote to Israel’s criminal propaganda
A new film by Abby Martin documents a people seeking dignity and basic rights, and ends with an appeal for BDS
On 1 June 2018, 21-year-old Palestinian paramedic Razan al-Najjar was shot and killed by Israeli forces while tending to casualties during the Great March of Return – the unarmed protests that had begun two months earlier along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel and that continue to this day. In predictable fashion, Israeli officials have cast the protesters – from children to elderly women to disabled persons – as diabolical minions sent by Hamas to lay waste to Israel via “kite and balloon terrorism” and other Scary Stuff.
As with every other manifestation of the Palestinian demand for dignity, Israel has used the Great March of Return as an opportunity to engage in mass slaughter: on a single day in May 2018, some 59 protesters were killed, including children. In the case of al-Najjar and other medics targeted by Israeli snipers, the whole pesky business of war crimes is magically dispensed with Israel’s signature assault on logic, according to which Palestinian doctors are merely “human shields” for Hamas – and thus, somehow, fair game.
For an antidote to Israel’s criminal propaganda surrounding the Great March of Return, a good place to start is Gaza Fights for Freedom, a new film by the Empire Files’ Abby Martin. From film footage of al-Najjar and interviews with her family members and colleagues, it becomes evident that – forget the “human shield” business – her real crime was in fact being entirely human.
Hamas calls for defending Islamic sites in West Bank against Israeli violations
The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has lambasted the regular desecration of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli settlers as “a practice targeting the Palestinian presence.”
The resistance movement’s spokesman, Fawz Barhoum, made the remark in a statement on Sunday, adding that the Israeli settlers’ break-ins at the two mosques “are part of the religious war being waged by the Israeli regime on the Palestinian people and their holy sites.”
The Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs, is situated in al-Khalil (Hebron), in the southern parts of the occupied West Bank. Revered by both Muslims and Jews, the holy site complex is believed to mark the burial sites of Prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Following a massacre of Palestinian worshipers by an extremist settler in 1994, the complex was divided between Muslim and Jewish worshipers. However, the Israeli military almost regularly closes Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshipers and allows extremist settlers to enter the whole sacred site to observe their rituals.
The al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. According to an agreement signed between the Israeli regime and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited. However, hard-line Israeli legislators and extremist settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians.