Israel turns once again its criminal military machine with all its might against the population in the Gaza Strip. Four years after the terrible crimes committed by Israel in the brutal attack on Gaza, which during only three weeks in 2008/9 has costs the lives of over 1400 Palestinians, the besieged Strip is again under full attack of Israeli airstrikes. Already almost 100 people have been killed and over 500 injured.
The blood of the last war on Gaza hasn’t dried yet, and still thousands of homes are in rubbles. Now, after three days, the children, women, elders and youth of Gaza live under constant shelling by tanks and F-16 aircrafts, with explosions all over the area, and everyone is expecting their house to be attacked next. Just as the last time, the worst is yet to come.
Less than four years run between the two crimes, and – beware! – the war on the Palestinian people has not started then and seen no interruption in the meanwhile. It simply changed some of its features.
After the occupation forces had accomplished the total destruction of the Gaza Strip and the mass killings of 2008/9, Israel refocused its undeclared war on the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. The process of judaization of the Palestinian capital and settlement construction has doubled in speed, the siege tightened on Jerusalem, house demolitions threaten whole Palestinian neighborhoods and the occupation forces invade routinely the al-Aqsa mosque compound. In the northern part of the Jordan valley and the southern Hebron hills, systematic ethnic cleansing policies are being implemented on the ground. In other parts settlers burn and cut down trees, arson mosques and houses in order to force Palestinian villages and local communities from their land. This is complimented by a vicious repression campaign. The Israeli army invades cities, carries out mass arrest and Palestinian prisoners are being humiliated and tortured in Israeli jails.
All of this is part of the disengagement plan in the West Bank. Just as we saw in Gaza in 2005, Israel with growing speed prepares the infrastructure that will turn the West Bank in yet another open-air prison, besieging West Bank Palestinians in some 50% of their land behind the apartheid wall, checkpoints and other control mechanisms, and aims to prevent any resistance to this perverse plan. This will enable the occupant of controlling every detail, life and future of the Palestinians in these open air prisons and cements the separation of the West Bank from Jerusalem and Gaza.
We are living an open war on the Palestinian people. When one war ends another one springs up with more violence than the previous one. The only goal Israel pursues with this is to get rid of the Palestinian cause and to get rid of the Palestinian people.
When Israel started the 2008/9 onslaught on Gaza, the majority of the people of the West Bank watched with despair as children were dying and the feeling of helplessness was killing. This time, matters are different. People are out in protests from day one and there are clashes between Palestinian protestors and occupation forces all over the West Bank: at the checkpoints and around the settlements of Qalandia, Jalama, Anata, the entrance of Bethlehem, Hebron, al-Ram and Huwwara; at the Damascus gate and other places in the heart of Jerusalem, in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Silwan, Issawiya, Ras al-Amud, Abu Dis clashes have become daily. The number of people participating continues to grow with every bomb that is being dropped in Gaza.
The reason of change in the Palestinian popular response this time around is the amount of anger and frustration. The people’s political and economic situation is deteriorating; the Palestinian Authority is showing an ever more blatant lack of leadership and capacity to respond to the occupation, the settlement construction, the siege on Gaza, the judaization of Jerusalem, the house demolitions, the theft of land, resources and property, forced displacement and many more crimes against our people. Popular anger is caused as well by the division and the disunity of the political parties and leaderships that increases each day. No one is taking their responsibility to end this division for the good of the national cause. Everyone is turning their backs to possible popular solutions that can end the division.
Not only the Palestinian street, as well the Arab world is no longer as it was in 2008. Egypt is no longer Mubarak’s Egypt. Tunisia is no longer Ben Ali’s Tunisia. Note even Lebanon or Jordan are the same, and the will of the people has imposed itself on the political scene. And the people of the regions still see the Palestinian cause as the beating heart of the region. As well globally, the solidarity movements supporting the Palestinian people have grown in strength and capacity since the massacre of the last invasion in Gaza.
Therefore, Israel will not be able to crush the steadfastness of Gaza with its military might. It will not be able to stop the people under siege, their humanity and dignity. Israel will not be able to force any act of surrender upon our people.
While people are keeping up the daily protests on the streets and fields in Palestine to ensure our brothers and sisters in Palestine are not alone, it is now due time that our political leaders get over their differences and understand that there’s no choice in front of them but unity in order to succeed.
And to the world we send one message: Israel wouldn’t dare to attack Gaza another time if it had been punished for the criminal war on Gaza pointedly investigated by the UN Goldstone report. If the ongoing Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism is to end, if the recurring massacres of the Palestinian people, which are awakening the media and international diplomacy once in a while from their lull, then first of all Israeli impunity needs to stop now. We need to unite all forces to end the Israeli aggression on Gaza to prevent the horrible massacres which happened the last time. We need to strengthen the effectiveness of international solidarity to cut the global ties of complicity with Israel, and gear up the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. In front of the every day killings of the Palestinian people, the call for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel is more urgent than ever. These are the most powerful tools at hand to answer the question ever-present in Palestinians hearts: How long will Israel get away with everything while it commits just another massacre against our people?
Jamal Juma, 18.11.2012
The Popular Campaign Against the Wall and Settlements