Israel’s massacre of unarmed civilians shows that there’s no right kind of resistance for Palestinians and that Trump has legitimised their murder, argues Shabbir Lakha
At the time of writing this, at least 52 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and over 2,400 injured by Israeli forces. Tens of thousands of unarmed, peaceful protestors marched to the border fence today to demand their right to return to their homeland, backed by international law and a number of UN resolutions. But international law has never held back Israel before.
Half of the Palestinians injured have been hit with live ammunition from Israeli snipers and almost 200 are injured because of heavy tear gas attacks. Among the injured are 200 children and 11 journalists, and at least 6 of the Palestinians killed are under 18. Dozens more are in critical condition and the protest is still ongoing, so the death toll is likely to rise. The horrific violence today brings the total death toll resulting from the Israeli response to the protests since 30th March to over 90 and over 10,500 injured.
Palestinians in Gaza have been living under one of the harshest sieges in history for over a decade. They have faced three massive military offensives that have killed thousands, injured tens of thousands and reduced whole towns and villages to rubble. For the first three years of Israel’s siege, they made precise calculations of the calorie intake required to keep Gazans just above the brink of malnutrition and limited food supplies to that. Since then, 97% of the water in Gaza has been deemed unfit for human consumption by the World Health Organisation and Gazans rarely have more than a few hours of electricity per day.
At the same time as Palestinians are being massacred in Gaza, Ivanka Trump is attending the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel addressed the ceremony and said:
“Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage, and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.”
The US Embassy move is a direct violation of numerous UN resolutions including the 1947 Partition Plan that the creation of the State of Israel is based on. According to Resolution 181(II), Jerusalem was supposed to be an independent city with a “Special International Regime”. The annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967 has never been recognised internationally and the UN ordered Israel to withdraw numerous times.
Instead, over 200,000 Jewish settlers live in settlements built over demolished and confiscated Palestinian homes, almost 15,000 Palestinians have had their residency permits revoked since 1967 and 41% of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are not connected to the water grid. Israeli politicians have openly talked of Palestinians as a “demographic threat” and sought to maintain a Jewish majority in the city.
It is on this basis, that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu can say call Jerusalem “the eternal undivided capital of Israel” and on Saturday night, Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai could casually say “next year in Jerusalem”, despite the majority of the world not recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
70 years of Nakba
Sadly, the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel has served as an accurate depiction of what life has been like for Palestinians for the last 70 years. Over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee from their homes 70 years ago, and those who tried to return were treated much like the Gazans trying to return home today – with bullets and blood.
And there’s a double significance of Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem today. It’s a reminder of the frank disregard for international law by both Israel and the US, who have always supported Israel in every way possible – namely with money, weapons and their UN veto. It also rips away the thin veil of the peace process the West have hidden behind in pretending to solve the “conflict” while letting Israel get away with ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
Palestinians have not stopped resisting for 70 years and longer. And throughout, they have been vilified for protesting against their oppression. When Palestinians resist violently – with the meagre resources at their disposal in the face of the fourth strongest army in the world that has never had a problem with razing entire villages, burying entire families and using white phosphorous, flechette shells and depleted uranium coated bullets – Palestinians are terrorists. When they engage in non-violent strategies like Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions, they’re enemies of the State of Israel. When they peacefully protest – they’re mercilessly gunned down, and it’s their fault.
The silence from world leaders as this massacre unfolds speaks volumes. The same heroic humanitarians that were tripping over themselves to show how much they care about the people of Syria (by way of lobbing bombs at them), have nothing to say about Palestinians being massacred. Britain has sold the Israeli army almost $450m worth of weapons, including sniper rifles, since 2014 when they massacred over 2,000 Palestinians. But Theresa May has yet to say a word.
The death toll will continue to rise, Palestinians will continue to resist and Israel will continue to murder them. The myth of the international community brokering some kind of peace or any semblance of justice for Palestinians is now shattered. This makes our work in the international Palestine solidarity movement even more important. The Palestinians have never given up, and we can never give up on them. Our government thinks they can get away with supporting the massacre of Palestinians, we must prove them wrong.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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