Unimpeded by an international community that remains largely silent over Israeli crimes, Tel Aviv has subjected the people of Gaza to numerous novel and experimental tools of repression and weapons delivery systems.
“Israel has besieged, tormented, and regularly attacked the Gaza Strip. The pretexts change: they elected Hamas; they refused to be docile; they refused to recognize Israel; they fired rockets; they built tunnels to circumvent the siege; and on and on. But each pretext is a red herring, because the truth of ghettos — what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen, no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day — is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza.”
— Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University
Whatever one’s opinion may be about the ongoing Israeli dispossession of the people of Palestine and the crippling siege of the Gaza Strip, one can’t fault Tel Aviv for lacking originality.
Such unique means of choking off the Palestinians’ ability to live as normal human beings will be on full display with a new $833 million sea barrier being erected: it will include a submarine barrier, a stone wall, and a layer of barbed wire that will be surrounded by an additional fence.
Hardline Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the barrier as a “one of a kind in the world” measure that protects the occupation “with power and sophistication” and prevents the people of Gaza from entering Israeli-controlled territory by sea.
“I don’t know when there was last a resolution put to the Security Council that only got one vote in favor.”
— Al Jazeera correspondent James Bays
The United States has voted against a Kuwait-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the protection of Palestinian civilians, while being the only country to back its own measure condemning Hamas for the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli forces during weeks-long peaceful protests in the besieged Gaza Strip near the fence with Israel. Among the victims have been medical professionals and journalists.
Ten countries, including Russia and France, voted in favour of the Kuwait-sponsored resolution on Friday.
Four others — Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ethiopia — abstained, while the US, a major ally of Israel, was the only country to vote against it.
After seven decades of attempting to replace one people with another, Zionism faces the unsustainability of such a project in the 21st century. . . . It is losing that battle today, which is a cause for optimism for those who seek peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis.
With the replacement of Palestine by Israel and the expulsion of most of its Arab population in 1948, it appeared that the Zionist dream had become a reality. A Jewish state had arisen, and there was no competing Palestinian state; ethnic cleansing had produced a massive demographic transformation, and the land of all those “absent” Arabs could be appropriated.
The Zionists’ hope and expectation was that the refugees would simply disappear, and even the memory that this had been an Arab-majority country for more than a millennium could be effaced. As Golda Meir put it, “There were no such thing as Palestinians. . . . They did not exist.” It seemed that the colonial-settler ideal had been realized: The natives were gone, there was plenty of space, their beautiful stone houses could be repurposed, and their “khummus” could be rebranded and mispronounced.
Collective punishment is immoral no matter who carries it out. Us or them. It’s immoral no matter what form it takes, indiscriminate shelling or gratuitously injurious siege, terrorism or oppression. No matter the justification.
What part of bombing a kindergarten is OK?
Don’t answer right away. Take a moment.
This week, when a mortar shell fired from Gaza slammed into the yard of a border-area Israeli kindergarten just before the children and staff were to arrive, the answers to the question came fast and furious.
“When Israel is bombing and killing people in Gaza on a daily basis, what do you expect?” a twitter user wrote in response to EU envoy Emanuele Giaufret’s condemnation of the shelling.
Among other answers: The Israeli kindergarten is reinforced against attack, as opposed to the much more vulnerable construction of Gaza schools, one of which was hit by an Israeli attack later in the day. Or, the rockets and mortars fired at Israel by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and others in Gaza are largely ineffectual weapons, as opposed to the deadly, state of the art munitions employed by Israel.
No matter how many soldiers we put in the West Bank, or how many houses of terrorists we blow up, or how many stone-throwers we arrest, we don’t have any sense of security; meanwhile, we have become diplomatically isolated, perceived around the world (sometimes correctly) as executioners, liars, racists. As long as the occupation lasts, we are the more powerful side, so we call the shots, and we cannot go on blaming others. For our own sake, for our sanity — we must stop now.
I was an Israel Defense Forces soldier in Gaza 27 years ago, during the first intifada. We patrolled the city and the villages and the refugee camps and encountered angry teenagers throwing stones at us. We responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Now those seem like the good old days.
Since then, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has seen stones replaced with guns and suicide bombs, then rockets and highly trained militias, and now, in the past month, kitchen knives, screwdrivers and other improvised weapons. Some of these low-tech efforts have been horrifically successful, with victims as young as 13. There is plenty to discuss about the nature and timing of the recent wave of Palestinian attacks — a desperate and humiliated answer to the election of a hostile Israeli government that emboldens extremist settlers to attack Palestinians. But as an Israeli, I am more concerned with the actions of my own society, which are getting scarier and uglier by the moment.
For decades, the East Jerusalem consulate has operated differently than almost every other consulate around the world. Rather than reporting to the US Embassy in Israel, it has reported directly to the State Department in Washington, giving the Palestinians an unfiltered channel to engage with the US government.
President Donald Trump is considering giving US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over the US outpost that handles Palestinian affairs, five US officials said.
Any move to downgrade the autonomy of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem — responsible for relations with the Palestinians — could have potent symbolic resonance, suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank. And while the change might be technical and bureaucratic, it could have potentially significant policy implications.
As president, Trump has departed from traditional US insistence on a “two-state solution” for the Mideast conflict by leaving open the possibility of just one state. As his administration prepares to unveil a long-awaited peace plan, the Palestinians have all but cut off contact, enraged by Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
“In our society women are often judged. But society has to accept us. If they don’t want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us because we have more strength than any man. The strength that I showed the first day of the protests, I dare you to find it in anyone else.”
— Razan al-Najjar, Palestinian paramedic, killed on Jun 1, 2018
She had become a fixture at the weekly protests along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel, a young woman in a white paramedic’s uniform rushing into harm’s way to help treat the wounded.
As a volunteer emergency medical worker, she said she wanted to prove that women had a role to play in the conservative Palestinian society of Gaza.
“Being a medic is not only a job for a man,” Razan al-Najjar, 20, said in an interview at a Gaza protest camp last month. “It’s for women, too.”
An hour before dusk on Friday, the 10th week of the Palestinian protest campaign, she ran forward to aid a demonstrator for the last time.
Israeli soldiers fired two or three bullets from across the fence, according to a witness, hitting Ms. Najjar in the upper body. She was pronounced dead soon after.
“There is no joie de vivre, no joy during Ramadan. People have no incomes, no food, no medicine. The sense is that the world has forgotten about the Gaza Strip and its people. Life and death are the same side of the coin for a lot of people. I hear people say that explicitly.”
— Samir Zaqut, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza
The feeling among people in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night swung between despair and indifference, beyond the desire for revenge or fear of Israel’s reaction. “The feeling is that there’s nothing to lose,” a Hamas activist wrote. “So maybe war will change something in the miserable reality of the Strip. People are prepared to take another blow if war or conflict will lead to change.”
Calls to take action against Israel intensified with the dozens of deaths in recent weeks; every neighborhood and perhaps every street has known a death, or somebody badly injured, the activist said — and at the same time, the humanitarian situation has not been improving.
“The reasons are legion but death is the same death,” said Samir Zaqut of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, quoting an Arab saying. “I have been living continuously in the Strip since 1998, and we’re in Ramadan, and this is the first time I see the despair everywhere, in every corner,” said Zaqut, who has been monitoring social media. . . .
As a longtime activist and journalist in Israel, including for the grass-roots news and commentary site +972 Magazine, I have been arrested for documenting and trying to prevent human rights violations in the West Bank. I have reported for years on how Israel silences dissent, even among its Jewish citizens, and how it is moving to outlaw human rights organizations it deems traitors.
The images and video of Israeli soldiers shooting live ammunition into masses of mostly unarmed Palestinians on the other side of the Gaza border fence over the past several weeks horrified observers around the world. Starting March 30, Israeli troops suppressing protests in Gaza killed 118 people and wounded more than 13,000, including 1,136 children.
The deaths and injuries, Israel Defense Forces international spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus lamented recently, have “done us a tremendous disservice, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult to tell our story.” Now Israel’s government is moving to make sure there are no more videos of mass shootings in the future — not by ordering a stop to the shootings, but by considering a law that would ban anyone from filming or photographing any military operations “with the intention of undermining the spirit of IDF soldiers and Israel’s residents.”
Even if that bill never becomes law, the fact that the Knesset is contemplating it underscores the current state of freedoms in Israel: Maintaining its decades-long occupation depends on systematic suppression of dissent on both sides of the boundary fences. Just as Israel exercises varying levels of control between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, it also permits varying levels of dissent and criticism depending on who you are, what you are protesting and where.