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Al-Ahed Telegram

Gaza massacres must spur us to action

Gaza massacres must spur us to action
folder_openPalestine access_time10 years ago
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Source: The Electronic Intifada, 27-12-2008

By Ali Abunimah

"I will play music and celebrate what the 'Israeli' air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an "Israeli" civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of "Israel's" latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

A short time earlier, US-supplied "Israeli" F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the "Israeli"-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for "Israel's" attacks, and others will follow.

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those "Israel" labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the "Israeli" attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Shmerling's joy has been echoed by "Israelis" and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is "self-defense" against "terrorists" and therefore justified. "Israeli" bombing -- like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

The rationalization for "Israel's" massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that "Israel" is acting in "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no
"Israeli" had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).

But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in "Israel's" method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old "Israeli" blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by "Israel".

What the media never question is "Israel's" idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an "Israeli"-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while "Israel" starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. "Israel" has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November: "there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."

That is an "Israeli" truce. Any response to "Israeli" attacks -- whether peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at "Israel" from the West Bank, and yet "Israel's" attacks, killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to all of "Israel's" demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight the resistance on "Israel's" behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian or her property or livelihood from "Israel's" relentless violent colonization. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem (al-Quds) demolished on 9 November, so the land it sits on could be taken by settlers.

Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by "Israel" in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage, anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with impunity.

But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being expressed is not directed solely at "Israel". Notably, it is directed more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of "Israel's" foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and slapping their palms together.

The "Israeli" newspaper Haaretz reported today that last Wednesday the "Israeli" "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense (war) minister, and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of "Israel's" attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did "Israel" get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped "Israel" besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than a year.

On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at "Israel's" renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.

But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid 'Israel' and institute sanctions against it."