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I didn’t really want to write this article. I’m writing it because I feel I need to. I didn’t want to write this because I’m tired. Tired of this ‘conflict’, or war, or occupation, or terrorism. Whatever we’re calling it this time.
The Israeli mass killings, the starvings, the siege, the insults have all got too much for me – an economically stable, well-educated, privileged Westerner. God knows how the Palestinians feel. Even writing this, I’m foreseeing the screams of those pro-Israel Facebook commenters, whose knee-jerk reactions will no doubt insult and entertain. I’m tired of that too.
In May, the Israeli Defence Force killed more than 130 protesting Palestinians (8 of these were children) and wounded at least 15,000 others, many of these also children. The Palestinians were protesting in large numbers, and what was striking were their amazing levels of belief. In the face of 50 years of a brutal Israeli occupation and constant destruction and devastation, the people of Palestine had hope. Hope that their lives would get better. May 15th is the day Palestinians refer to as Nakba, also known as The Day of Catastrophe. This day commemorates the Palestinian Exodus of 1948, in which more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes, or forced to flee. The Palestinians held up cardboard keys, each one symbolising a house that is no longer filled – some actually held their own keys that once unlocked their homes.
At the border with Israel, there were harrowing scenes. On the ground, Israeli soldiers massacred the unarmed protesters, while their drones launched tear gas from above. Israel’s defence for these killings is the same defence it normally uses; it has a right to defend itself. It’s hard to see what these soldiers, armed to the hilt with the latest armour and weapons, were defending themselves from. These were not standard methods of self-defence. The Israeli Defence Force bankrolled to the tune of $38 Billion over the next ten years by the US in ‘military aid’, is not intimidated by Palestinians carrying flags, kites, and stones, on the other side of their border fence. Amongst thousands of peaceful protestors, there were a few, mainly children, throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. There have even been Israeli reports of Molotov cocktails. This is to be expected from the victims of an Israeli blockade, but I would argue it’s incredible that these scenes were not more violent. But sadly, this is because they are just tired.
The Israeli response to their most recent killing spree is one that is not surprising. They have blamed Hamas, as they always do, claiming essentially that Hamas encouraged people to exercise their democratic right to protest, and so Israel is not to be blamed for shooting hundreds of people. These are some of the milder arguments put forward. Of course, there are also the claims that many of these civilians were not simply protestors at all, but Hamas terrorists sent to attack the Israeli border with sticks, stones and maybe even a Molotov cocktail.
Israel has claimed several Palestinians tried to plant bombs at the border, before presumably being shot in the head by noble defenders of Israel. There seems to me to be no evidence of this. Whenever Israel commits an act of terror like this one, they always repeat the same old, pathetic, attempts at excuses. Blame Hamas, they are terrorists. It’s quite remarkable that this strategy seems to work with anything Israel does. Murder Palestinian children? Hamas’ fault. Cripple the Gazan economy? Hamas’ fault. Destroy what is left of Palestine through relentless bombing campaigns? Hamas’ fault.
As Channel 4’s Jonathan Rugman puts it (Quote begins at 3:57):
I did see some Palestinian youths throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers, but nobody I saw up on that border was armed, in fact, there were Palestinian protesters who’d been shot in the previous weeks [of protests], who were coming back to that border to be shot again.
I believe a harsh Israeli blockade has instilled a level of poverty that is truly awful. 80% of Palestinians entirely depend on humanitarian aid for their basic survival, aid that the Israelis strictly limit.
The international community has consistently criticised Israel’s genocidal policy towards the Palestinians. As an apartheid state, Israel has consistently abused human rights, and reply to most criticisms of their policy by blaming Hamas, or the ‘biased’ international media. Hamas have undoubtedly used violence and terrorism against Israel. However, I think it’s incredibly difficult to argue that Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians is not one that supports their ethnic cleansing. The wealth of evidence is too overwhelming. From an Israeli minister calling for Gaza to be sent back to the ‘Middle Ages’ in 2012 by bombing, to PM Netanyahu’s absolute refusal to accept any responsibility for any of his country’s war crimes.
Donald Trump proudly, and utterly carelessly stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel to appease his large evangelical Christian support – 80% of evangelical Christians are believed to have voted for him. Everybody knew what this meant. The whole world saw Trump pouring petrol onto a burning car, but as ever, he doesn’t care. Neither do his supporters, many of whom believe Jerusalem must be Israel’s capital, as it is written in the Bible. But let’s not fall into the trap of focusing too much on Trump. Trump is the kid who pushes the red button, the one ranting relative who ruins social events, the Twitter President. But that’s all he is. What’s been going on between Israel and Palestine is a tale of Israeli murder on a genocidal scale and I’m tired.