Much of what is said about Gaza is myopic and without historical context. Israel, despite the condemnation of the international community (the USA administration excepted), constantly justifies its hideous crimes on the grounds of self-defence. Those who never engage with the root of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its history are very easily led to believe that the Israeli assault is a response to the rockets launched from Gaza by HAMAS.
Butchering civilians is nothing new for the Israelis. How can one forget the atrocities committed by the Zionist terrorist organisations Irgun, Haganah and others before Israel was created. Could anybody forget Deir Yassin, where in 1948 more than 200 hundred Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children, were killed by Zionist terrorists, who later became members of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). How can anybody forget the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006, then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion; and the frequent assaults on Gaza since 2005, in which almost all the victims were civilians?
The question one should ponder is: when did Israel ever abide by international law and UN resolutions if they were not in its favour? It never cares about the Geneva Convention, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now Israelis justify their crimes by blaming enemy fighters for taking shelter behind civilians, when the known facts and evidence of witnesses indicate this is not the case. More than 40 people, mostly children and refugees, were killed in the Fakhoura School run by UNRWA, but, despite the statement by the UN officials on the ground about the non-existence of militants in the school, every Israeli spokesperson who appears on the media keeps repeating the lie.
Condemning HAMAS for being a peace hating and terrorist organisation which rejects any peace proposal is far from the truth. Anybody who has followed the conflict since the very beginning will be aware that HAMAS was ready to renew the truce with Israel that ended on December 2008 on condition that Israel ended the siege and opened the borders. What they received in return was the brutal attack from Israel. And this was not the first time that a truce had been proposed by HAMAS and turned down by Israel. Since 1994 HAMAS has repeatedly offer of a truce which Israel has stubbornly rejected. Moreover, since 2004 HAMAS has20three times observed a truce that Israel never respected.
What has HAMAS received in response? The free elections that brought them to power in 2006 has never been respected by Israel. The Palestinians were punished for their choice, and their sovereign government was boycotted not only by Israel, but by the USA and EU. Half of their cabinet ministers and 44 of their members of parliament were captured and detained without trial in Israeli prisons. Moreover, Israel denied Palestinians the taxes collected on their border. Palestinian women and children were detained in Israeli prisons and denied their basic rights behind bars. Since June 2007, after the failure of a coup d’état attempt by a group of mafia supported by Tel Aviv, the Gazan people have been imprisoned in their own country. Gaza became a huge prison with all the land, air and sea borders sealed by Israel. Any countries that tried to establish relations with Gaza were threatened by the USA. Gazans were denied food, petrol, goods, medicine, and contacts with other people all over the world. Electricity was cut off and the supply of water was controlled by the Israelis. Even before the recent Israeli aggression there was a humanitarian crisis which was created by Israel.
In such a situation any people would fight for their freedom and their rights. What has really been happening in Gaza is a struggle of the oppressed against their oppressor. If somebody came to your house to kill you, your children, your wife and your parents, would you stand still or fight back? If you fought back, and the aggressor killed you in the act of protecting yourself, would others blame you for such an act of self-defence? Let us stop blaming the victims. What the Israelis are doing now is the act of a terrorist state, worthy of the Nazis.
For a fair judgement of the situation in Gaza, let us tune in to al-Jazeera and other alternative media and listen to what is really happening on the ground rather than listening only to the Israeli apologists in the mainstream media. Let us read what Fisk, Pappe, Finkelstein, Chomsky and other peace loving journalists, including the non-Zionist Jews, have to say about the true face of Israel. Or maybe we should start to listen to the Israe li soldiers who have resigned, the ‘Refusniks’, who oppose the killing of Palestinians and call for dialogue with HAMAS. It is time the civilised international community freed itself from the lies it is forced to swallow by the pro-Israeli media.
Tutor and PhD researcher
School of Government and international Affairs,
University of Durham, UK.