The Financial Express

Israeli onslaught on Gaza: Palestinian resistance continues

| Updated: May 28, 2021 22:16:00

Palestinian women carry posters that read "no for terrorizing the children, Gaza, Palestine," during a protest supporting the children in Gaza.   —AP Photo Palestinian women carry posters that read "no for terrorizing the children, Gaza, Palestine," during a protest supporting the children in Gaza.   —AP Photo

It all started with Jewish settlers yelling "death to the Arabs" and marching to evict long time Palestinian residents of a neighbourhood  called Sheikh Jarrah in the occupied East Jerusalem resulting in protests against forced expulsion. Meanwhile, Israeli police also blocked off the Damascus Gate, a popular gathering point for Arabs during the month of Ramadan sparking further protests. As Jewish settlers  also started to assault Arab residents with the help of Israeli police, Arab youths  started to resist leading to Israeli crackdown that has engulfed much of the occupied East Jerusalem.

All of this culminated in Israeli troops storming the Al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem's holiest site for Muslims during Ramadan prayers. Much of the world saw video footage of Israeli soldiers storming through screaming crowds with stun grenades exploding as congregants ran for safety. Also, videos of Israelis gathering around the holy site cheering at the chaos and the troops  singing national anthem were posted on the internet.

Now ordinary Palestinians have the ability to broadcast their side of stories without the filter of the mainstream Western media ( such as the New York Times and the Washington Post) which is highly biased against them. In fact, from the mainstream Western media perspective there is no acceptable form of resistance for Palestinians.

 But Sheikh Jarrah is just one neighbourhood, and displacements are taking place across all Israeli occupied territories. As the reverberations in Sheikh Jarrah  spread beyond the neighbourhood, grief and outrage mounted across the world at the escalation of military violence. Protests against Israeli repressions and war on Gaza have been held across the world despite governments in France and Germany trying to stop protest march taking place in cities like Paris and Frankfurt. 

 Also, within Israel itself, the Israeli government has unleashed the kind of repression previously reserved for Palestinians in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank against an unprecedented revolt by Palestinian Israeli citizens. Many Jewish groups have rampaged through Palestinian neighbourhoods. Police allowed these people to run amok in Jerusalem, Lod, Ramle, Nasiriya, Tiberias, Beersheba, Haifa and other towns and villages. The Israeli government is now ready to use administrative detention against these people. This allows the government to keep these people in indefinite imprisonment without trial.

Israel's massive assault against defenceless Palestinians, not surprisingly, made Hamas feel obligated to respond to Israeli aggression. Many also wonder whether Israeli provocations were indeed deliberate. Initially, Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem to display its solidarity with the protesters on the ground. Israel responded overwhelmingly with massive air strikes targeting Hamas emplacements in densely populated Gaza. This prompted more rocket attacks from Hamas, and in turn, more bombing from Israel.

But this is not a battle between two equals. This is a fight between one of the strongest military powers in the world fully backed by the largest war machine- the US with US$3.8 billion handout a year with no questions asked or strings attached. It is to be noted that Israel is a very rich country with a per capita income of US$46,376 ranking  ahead of Germany, the UK and France. Journalist, author and film maker John Pilger on May 18, 2021 told RT's Afshin Ratinshi that "this is as much a British and American war against Palestine, as it is an Israeli one",  he then went on to add that "Palestine is a centre of great imperial act".

The sole purpose of the Israeli army is to disinherit and humiliate a dispossessed people. John Pilger in another interview earlier with RT also described Israel as the watchdog of the US and the UK to keep the Middle East in turmoil and also keep the arms markets well nourished in the region. Joe Biden, as US Vice President had said  at a conference in Washington on 30 September, 2013, "If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved." In response to a question at a press conference on the current situation in Gaza, President Biden said, "Israel has right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory".

According to the latest count, Israeli air strikes  in Gaza have already  claimed  217 lives  including 60+ children and 13 in the West Bank and about 1,200 wounded while terrorising the entire population of the impoverished territory often described as an open air prison. Israeli death toll stands at 10. Israeli missiles  have toppled high rise apartment blocks including the building where   Aljazeera and the Associated Press (AP) had their offices. Improvised Gaza rockets are no match for the high-tech Israeli war machine. Therefore, the deaths of Palestinians  far outnumber those of Israelis by more than 20 to one. Yet, US President Joe Biden declared that "there has not been a significant over-reaction" on Israel's part giving clear endorsement for Israel to continue its slaughter of Palestinians.

Yet, stories follow an expected pattern as expressed in  the age old mantra "Israel has the right to defend itself". This mantra is being chanted not only by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken but also by  the US  allies in Europe. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set the tone and declared, "I condemn indiscriminate attacks by Hamas on Israel". German Chancellor Angela Markel's spokesperson denounced Palestinian "terror attacks" and chanted the usual mantra  of Israel's "right to self-defence". It is indeed very ironic that Germany which is also a supplier of  arms to Israel  seems to be  completely oblivious to the fact that German people are now making Palestinian people including children in the Gaza strip to pay for the terrible crimes committed by German people against European Jews. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian also joined the chorus declaring, "France condemns in the strongest term the rocket and missile fire from the Gaza strip".

The political message is clear,  to advance their interests European allies of the US will continue to stand behind Israel regardless of Israeli onslaught against Palestinians. For these countries Arab lives do not matter. The US used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council last week to suppress a non-binding resolution supported by the rest of Council's  members to prevent a march to war. The US remains the chief enabler of Israel.

The so called "Abraham Accord"  was signed less than a year ago sponsored by the Trump Administration where Israel signed the so called normaliaation deal with the US backed client regimes of Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the UAE with complete approval and support of Saudi Arabia. This  in fact legitimised the Zionist apartheid regime. Israel has been already in effective control of the West Bank with the help of the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

Since its inception in 1994,  the sole purpose of the Palestinian Authority has been to enable Israel to perpetuate its control of the West Bank. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has accepted the violence and suffering caused by Israel in Gaza as tolerable as part of an effort to secure its  hold on power in Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority is now deeply compromised as representative of its people.

It is not surprising that Hamas has now emerged as the main Palestinian resistance force. Hamas will continue to be able to rule Gaza and reap all the political benefits from being party to the armed resistance against Israeli occupation. But it must be noted that Hamas is not the only Palestinian resistance force, but an integral part of a much wider Palestinian resistance movement. The so-called leaders of the Palestinian Authority including its President Mahmoud Abbas appear to be cowed by Hamas' power so much so that fearing  electoral defeat to Hamas, he postponed Palestinian elections indefinitely. The elections announced in January this year would have been the first in 15 years. 

Hamas is definitely attempting to capitalise on Palestinian anger over the Israeli violence in Jerusalem to further consolidate its political position and the cancelled elections indeed have strengthened its political position. Most political analysts now believe Mahmoud Abbas in view of his shaky political position is quite content to see Israel keeping his rivals holed up in Gaza.

As Israelis are brutalising protesters in the West Bank and bombing Gaza with the active support of the US, the US government continues to pretend as an "honest broker" in  resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The fact is that the US has never been an honest broker in this conflict and President Biden would not be any different. In reality, the US turns a blind eye to Israeli violence and continuous appropriation of Arab land, rarely lifting a finger to move towards a two-states solution which it apparently supports,  while loudly decrying Palestinian for what it sees as violence against Israelis.

Debate around Israel's occupation of Palestine to establish a colonial settler state where Palestinians were violently evicted  from 78 per cent of the land in 1948 and the remaining 22 per cent occupied in 1967, often revolves around the two state solution -- one for indigenous Palestinians and the other for Israelis. This two state solution has persisted as the dominant paradigm largely because the US and its European allies wanted it that way. Even today people like Tony Blinken and Bernie Sanders and most other political figures in the US strongly believe in the two state solution. Most Palestinian leaders who are primarily based in Ramallah associated with the Palestinian Authority also subscribe to the same solution.

The question is now where this second state called Palestine will be located? Who is going to remove Israeli settlers from Palestinian land that they encroached and are continuing to encroach aided by the Israeli army with full support of the US?

Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah by continuing to collaborate with the Israeli government lost all credibility to represent Palestinian interests. Palestinians clearly see and say that there is no Palestinian Authority, there is no independent Palestinian entity in the region. It is Israelis dominating all over the place and controlling the whole of historic Palestine.

In fact, now the Israelis themselves by their own deeds with the backing of the US have made two state solution impossible. They have turned Palestine now into a single state, the apartheid state of Israel. In effect, one state reality is  Israel's own creation and has effectively  made the establishment of a separate Palestinian state impossible.

Also, a large majority of Palestinians now believe that the two state solution is unrealistic. As Tariq Ali argues for a proper one state solution, there have to be transformation of the political culture of Israel, and emergence of political forces within Israel who believe that there is no other way forward, except equal right for all its citizens. In a democratic society citizenship entitles all to the same privileges. In fact, for decades the idea of a single democratic state was the galvanising point of the Palestinian Liberation Movement.

Edward Said, Palestinian-American academic, political activist and literary critic in an essay  published in the New York Times Magazine in January, 1999 argued that the real peace could come only with a bi-national Israeli-Palestinian state.  The Palestinian-American activist and scholar Yousef Munayyer in an article in the Foreign Affairs last year made a comprehensive case for the inevitability of one state. Another Palestinian-American activist and Journalist Ali Abunimah also outlined the case for one state solution in his book "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse". Also, the Jewish-American academic Peter Beinart in an essay published in the quarterly magazine the Jewish Currents last year  eloquently  made the case for Jewish-Arab equality within a single state. He cites Belgium and Northern Ireland as promising examples of "bi-national states" where each ethnic group maintains a certain degree of political autonomy while sharing one sovereign country.

Israeli settlements have already encroached on the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the extent any Palestinian state in those areas is completely unviable. More importantly, the Israelis will not win until the Palestinians declare that they have lost. But that is not going to happen. So,  the Israeli-Palestine issue is not going to go away giving rise to call for a single state as the alternative to two state solution. In fact, one state solution has long been the only viable solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict to ensure equal rights for all of its citizens-- both Israelis and Palestinians. The one state solution envisions a "secular, liberal and democratic state" encompassing Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. This is not a fanciful idea, this is the only realistic option now left to resolve  the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

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