As the resistance of Palestinians in Gaza continues despite horrific violence against them, we must continue to show solidarity and protest, argues Shabbir Lakha
On 30 March, known as Land Day in Palestine, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza gathered near the border fence with Israel beginning a six-week long campaign called the Great Return March. The protests are taking place in the run up to and marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland and over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed. The Gaza Strip became a refugee camp for Palestinians displaced from other parts of historic Palestine and so their protests today carry the clear demand for their right to return to their homeland.
The response from Israel to the demonstrations has been to shoot unarmed protestors with snipers and the mass dumping of tear gas from drones. Reports coming out of the protests show horrific scenes of Palestinian men, women, children and even journalists being shot indiscriminately as they ran away. Even more disturbing has been the videos of Israeli soldiers celebrating as they gunned down Palestinians and nearby Israeli residents gathering on hills to watch and cheer as Palestinians were shot.
The death toll from this disgusting display of barbaric violence now stands at 40 with over 5,500 Palestinians injured – of which over 1,500 are suffering from bullet wounds. Medical staff in Gaza have reported that Israeli forces have been using illegal bullets which expand on impact.
The response from world leaders, including this Tory government, and the mainstream media, has been abysmal, equivocating the one-sided inhumane violence against Palestinians with the peaceful protests themselves and describing them as “clashes”. The not-so-subtle justifications for the massacres taking place came at the same time as the establishment were making the case for “humanitarian” military intervention in Syria.
And the hypocrisy only gets deeper, as it was revealed that since the last Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2014 where over 2,100 Palestinians (a quarter of them children) were killed, the UK has sold over $450m worth of arms to Israel, including sniper rifles.
Adding insult to injury of 70 years of Palestinians being subjected to ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid, Trump will be marking the anniversary by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The international-law-violating move puts the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution and the shambolic “peace process”, 25 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords.
But one thing this all shows us is that Palestinians have not stopped resisting, and so neither can we. On the 11 May we will be protesting at 5:30pm outside the Israeli Embassy to oppose the ruthless murder of Palestinians in Gaza and 70 years of Nakba. And when Trump visits on 13 July, we have to make sure solidarity with Palestinians is a significant feature of our mass protests against him.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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