“On one side, you have kids with slingshots and people who burn tires, and on other side, there’s sophisticated army of snipers and soldiers.”
— Dr. Marc Sinclair
Along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel lie a bunch of tents of volunteers who drag injured demonstrators away from the danger zone to provide necessary help using basic medical tools.
One of the young women in white paramedic’s uniform was Razan Al Najjar, the 21-year-old volunteer emergency medical worker who was recently shot dead as she tried to aid a demonstrator, during the ongoing Palestinian protest campaign.
“Razan was a very outspoken and proud woman. She was sure of her role and what she could do to contribute on ground,” said Dr Marc Sinclair, a Dubai-based pediatric orthopedic surgeon who founded the Little Wings Foundation charity that treats children in Palestine.
Despite Israel’s descent into unmasked, right-wing extremism and its decades-old military occupation and oppression of Palestinians, the EU continues to treat it as if it were above international law.
Today, Palestinians everywhere will commemorate the 1947–1949 Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) — the ethnic cleansing of the majority of indigenous Palestinians from our homeland and the systematic destruction of hundreds of our villages and towns to establish Israel as an exclusionary state.
In 1948, when Zionist paramilitaries forced the family of my late grandmother, Rasmiyyah, out of their spacious home in the picturesque city of Safad at gunpoint, the seminal process of settler-colonialism that was enabled by the Balfour Declaration became personal to my family. The Nakba has shaped my identity and the identity of millions of other Palestinian descendants of refugees.
To suppress the massive peaceful demonstrations in Gaza, where the majority are Nakba refugees and their descendants, demanding an end to the 12-year-old siege and refugees’ rights, Israel has enacted a shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy, killing dozens and injuring thousands, many with live ammunition. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has condemned these crimes, while Amnesty International has called on world governments “to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel” as an effective measure of accountability.
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.
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.
“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. . . .
Let’s look at things a different way. Support of Israel requires deference to legal discrimination, inequitable models of citizenship, and massive displacement based on ethnic background. Can’t Zionists, then, rightly be accused of racism? We never get to ask that question. They occupy a normative position in American political discourses and so their civility is guaranteed.
Author’s note: On May 18, Rabbi Jill Jacobs published an essay in the Washington Post purporting to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and “anti-Semitism.” In the essay, she posted two of my tweets to suggest that I am anti-Semitic [spoiler: I am not]. Since August, 2014, the Washington Post has run numerous articles similarly impugning my character. The paper has never offered me space to write in my own voice, despite numerous inquiries. I submitted an essay to the Post’s Outlook section responding to the issues raised in Jacobs’ piece, but the paper declined to run it. That essay, as submitted, follows.
When Israeli soldiers open fire on unarmed demonstrators, as they have been doing for over a month in the Gaza Strip, Americans are implicated in the violence, for the United States arms and funds those soldiers. Yet liberal supporters of Israel insist on complicating this straightforward proposition.
They often do so by accusing Israel’s critics of anti-Semitism. On the one hand, Israel’s liberal champions brand themselves allies of Palestine; but on the other hand, they defame and sabotage Palestinians. It is no longer tenable to have it both ways.
In truth, it has been difficult to avoid the abject dehumanization of Gazans by the Israeli government and Israel advocates these past few months. In statement after statement, Palestinians have all but been blamed for their own mass murder.
Jacob’s article was written in response to the Israeli military’s killing of over 100 Palestinians in demonstrations in Gaza since March 30, including 14 children, and injured over 3,500 with live fire. Certainly, as the Executive Director of Tru’ah — an American rabbinical organization that seeks to “protect human rights in North America, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories” — one might have expected her to follow the lead of other human rights organizations and protest (or even call into question) Israel’s excessive use of force.
On the very same day as Jacobs’ op-ed, for instance, Human Rights Watch called for an international inquiry “into this latest bloodshed,” adding that “these staggering casualty levels (were) neither the result of justifiable force nor of isolated abuses; but foreseeable results of senior Israeli officials’ orders on the use of force.” For its part, Amnesty International called Israel’s actions “an abhorrent violation of international law” and Doctors Without Borders termed them “unacceptable and inhuman.”
Analysis: An arrangement led by Egypt and supervised by UN and Arab League inspectors, leading to the creation of a joint PA-Hamas civil government, would serve all parties and gradually dismantle the explosive conflict — even without forcing Hamas to disarm.
The [Israeli] defense establishment is interested in . . . a quick implementation of a comprehensive plan for humanitarian and economic aid to the [Gaza] strip. This recommendation from the IDF — and recently from the Shin Bet as well — is based on a simple idea: Humanitarian welfare (water, sewage, health and electricity services) and economic development (reducing unemployment) will calm things down [and forestall further political deterioration and violence].
After 62 Palestinians were killed and thousands were wounded during recent Gaza border riots, and following the harsh criticism against Israel in the international arena, the Gaza affair is far from over. Although neither Israel nor Hamas are interested in war, there is still a high likelihood that the clashes will escalate and deteriorate to another bloody and destructive round of war.
This may be another battle which will end in the exact situation we have today or an even worse one. In such a situation, Hamas won’t be there and we’ll have to deal with a governmental anarchy in the strip that is bound to spill into our territory.
When that happens, we will have no other choice but to return as an occupying force that will have to take care of the needs of two million hostile Palestinians. Security officials in Israel share the opinion that we have no interest in toppling the Hamas rule at this time, as it would lead to the creation of a governmental void in the strip.