About 4 years ago, right after an American election and before an Israeli election, six prominent Gazans were assassinated by Israel. This came in the midst of a long-time relative lull in rocket attacks. It was clear at the time that the killings and subsequent bombardment of the Gaza strip had been planned for months.
This time, after several Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, had been killed in the previous week or so, Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of Hamas’ military wing, was assassinated in a trap set by Israel the day after he thought he had negotiated a cease fire with them.
Israeli leaders need to show how tough they are to be able to appeal to their constituents, who mostly seek revenge and retribution against the Palestinians will never give up their quest for freedom from occupation no matter how many die or how many suffer the repression that comes in response to their valiant, but feeble attempts to fight back and gain their freedom and dignity. Israel has no interest in negotiating a real peace, one that would be fair to the Palestinians, because that would mean giving up land they have stolen, so they need to kill and maim and destroy on a regular basis to try to suppress the restless natives and hold onto their dream of Greater Israel.
The majority of Israeli Jews are completely out of touch. When the UN General Assembly votes 189 against Israel, 3 for, they don’t connect their actions, their murderous ways to the reason for their near universal censure. The BBC radio program World Have Your Say interviewed an Israeli living near Gaza. He was complaining about having to spend so much of his time in his bomb shelter. He then made one of the most preposterous, off-the-wall statements I’ve ever heard, anytime, anywhere. He said that the Gazans don’t build bomb shelters because they know the IDF doesn’t target civilians. This at a time when 90 Gazans had died and 700 were injured.
Is he unaware that his country has maintained a blockade of Gaza for 5 years in which building materials are banned from import? There is one way around the blockade, through the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, but everything costs twice as much when it comes in that way. Is he aware that Gazans are very poor. That they don’t have the money to build shelters. Does he know that 80% of Gazans are dependent on food aid. Is he aware that 50% of children there are malnourished because Israel limits the amount of food that’s allowed in.
The blockade has shut down 95% of Gaza’s industry because no raw materials are allowed in and no finished products allowed out. A substantial part of Gaza’s farmland is off limits because it’s either near the border – any Palestinian within 300 meters, and sometimes a lot more, of the border is liable to be shot – or was destroyed in the last Israeli rampage. They aren’t allowed to fish more than 3 miles from shore. They have few options and almost no hope so they don’t care how hard they are hit, or how many of them die as long as they can pick off a few Israelis with their rockets and occasional sneak attacks.
The next night an Israeli said that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. The words, moral army, in themselves are an oxymoron. Soldiers are trained to kill, and if they feel threatened, to shoot first and ask questions later. As for the IDF, it’s noted around the world for being ruthless, callous and brutal. Israeli Jews live on another planet where they are always right and everybody else is wrong.
Subsequently, an Israeli on the program said he wanted the army to go in and finally wipe out the terrorists, like the army hasn’t been trying to do that for the last 30 years. He sounded young, probably was not even born when the first Intifada began. They never learn, they’re always the victim, they never connect their brutal occupation with the attacks against them. No matter how many times their violent, bloodthirsty ways fail to bring safety and security, they only know how to double down on the killing.
The night before the cease fire, an Israeli insisted that his country had totally left Gaza, as if leaving a place still allowed you to enforce a near total and crippling blockade. In fact, the IDF goes into Gaza anytime they want, to arrest anybody they want, to kill anybody they want. Israelis have no clue, they only know talking points, they’re divorced from reality, they’ve lost their capacity for fairness or compassion or even logic. If the roles were reversed, and the Arabs were the occupiers, the Jews would fight to the death to free themselves, and use all means at their disposal to do it, just as they did in their fight to create the state of Israel in 1947 when they committed devastating terrorist acts, like the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem when more that 200 innocent people died.
It’s clear what Israelis want. A recent survey showed nearly 60% think they live in an apartheid state and want to keep it that way, with their Arab citizens, who make up 20% of Israel proper, permanently relegated to second class status. A poster of four maps showing the loss of Arab land since the beginning of Israel has circulated on the internet and elsewhere. The 2012 map shows the West Bank as hundreds of tiny dots or small enclaves – urban ghettos and rural shtetls – surrounded by land controlled by Israel. Palestinians now control about 10% of the West Bank.
When the poster was placed on the London Underground it was called a provocation by some Jewish groups. Yes, the truth hurts, and it is very provocative to show how Israel is seeking to squeeze the Palestinians into ever smaller ghettos, something no other country in the world would be allowed to do. As long as the US vetoes every attempt at the UN to stop Israel from its illegal and immoral actions and also provides billions of dollars in military aid - in spite of Israel being a wealthy country - the farce will continue, nothing will change to balance the Arab-Jewish equation or provide the Palestinians the freedom every person in the world deserves.
The Gazans consider their efforts to have been victorious, since in spite of being outgunned 1000 to 1 they managed to kill six Israelis and wound many more. It doesn’t matter to them that 162 Gazans were killed and more than a thousand injured, they’ll never cease their fight for freedom. On the other side, Israeli Jews have to know they will never be safe and secure until justice is done, no matter how much destruction they wreak or how many casualties they cause. They could indulge in mass murder or deportation to try to stop the resistance, as some Israeli politicians have suggested, but even the US might balk at that.