Cii News, Pic: Middle East Monitor | Azhar Vadi | 17 July 2014/19 Ramadan 1435
Palestinians do have a choice. They could choose to stop firing homemade projectiles, purposely described as missiles and rockets by Israeli sympathisers, into barren fields in most cases and into their own land at other times. Or they could choose to continue. And bear the wrath of Israeli aggression which translates into thousands of airstrikes delivered by some of the latest and most sophisticated military equipment on planet earth.
Living in the Gaza Strip this decision has to be made while understanding that they have been forced to live within a space of land 40km long by 10km wide. They know that there is nowhere to run, leave alone hide. They know that people will die, kids will die, women will die, the elderly will die, men will die, Palestinians will die.
The Israeli narrative, one that sadly seems to be taking root amongst those whom I know care most deeply for Palestinian people, would prefer that Palestinians halt their rather ineffectual rocket fire on Israeli territory. The Zionist propaganda machine bleats repetitively that Palestinians have brought this upon themselves, Hamas is to blame for the deaths of its own people and that all will come to peace if the order to halt the rocket fire is simply given. Israel, as the claims go, cannot tolerate being repeatedly attacked by the Palestinians and not respond. Which country in the world could argue with that, let alone any sane person?
An yet there are millions if not billions of people who disagree with this version and many countries who have refuted the pack of Israeli lies so oft repeated in the hope of it becoming the truth. The reality is whether Hamas fires rockets or not, Israel will continue to violate the rights of Palestinians. People will die, kids will die, women will die, the elderly will die, men will die, Palestinians will die.
You see, if memory of this issue stretches back only to the 8 July 2014, one could most certainly be forgiven for screaming out at the Palestinian resistance: “Morons, your people are dying, your kids are dying! This is not a playground spat. Stop the rockets. Save your lives.”
If this myopic view is allowed to gain traction, what the Palestinians are ultimately being told, with shear arrogance mind you by people who may only have a YouTube exposure of world events is, “Cower, fall to your knees, surrender, for you and not them have violated the rights of the other. And even if you have been violated, stop responding, in fact turn the other cheek and offer your backside as well so that you can get an all-round slapping once and for all.”
Truth is once the pants are down you may just get more than a simple slap.
The irony though is that it’s not that the Palestinians have not tried this. There has been a cyclical process stretching back to Oslo and before, where Palestinians have agreed to Israeli demands only to be smashed again a short time later. Whenever they pull their pants back up and dare to simply raise a fist in defiance against their violators, they are told to cower once again. Supposedly for their safety.
For the sake of brevity, let’s backtrack to the last major Israeli attack that ended on 21 November 2012. The terms of an Egyptian-brokered deal agreed to by Israel and Hamas, which brought an end to the aggression by Israel entitled, “Operation Pillar of Defence”, included, “ending all hostilities by Israelis and Palestinians, and facilitating the freedom of movement and transfer of goods within Gaza.”
The very next day Israeli armed forces shot dead a Palestinian man east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip; 19 others were wounded in the incident as reported by the Middle East Monitor.
In the year that followed Israel violated the truce over 280 times. How many of these have you heard or read about in your mainstream media source?
The possible problem with those, and here I refer to Palestinian well-wishers who wish to dictate to Palestinians or at best suggest how they should pursue their resistance campaign, could be attributed to the circumstance that they themselves have become mere consumers of the popular narrative promulgated by mainstream media.
Let it be known then, because mainstream media certainly did not cover it, 44 people were killed during the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 2013, a truce year. The vast majority of them (38) were Palestinian, six were Israeli. Five of the Palestinians were minors and one was a woman.
The point of all of this is: Whether Palestinians fire their glorified firecrackers into Israel or not, Israel will continue to occupy the West Bank and hold a debilitating siege around the Gaza Strip. Palestinian kids will die, Palestinian women will die, the Palestinian elderly will die, Palestinian men will die, Palestinians will die.
Now, fast forward to the current crisis. While mainstream media outlets are still busy confusing the minds of even the most sober amongst us, there are those who are beginning to see the narrative differently.
Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC’s, Chris Hayes’s show said, “Keep in mind, Gaza has been under siege for several years now… Keep in mind, Gaza does not have early warning sirens and it does not have the bomb shelters for its civilian population that Israel does.”
Chris Hayes himself then expressed doubt about Israel’s claim that its attacks on Gaza were a response to rocket fire but rather to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, according to a report in Mondweiss. Murders that have until now not been solved and no one officially held responsible.
Let’s assume for a moment that Hamas did commit the act of killing the three. Does that justify the wanton obliteration of the Gaza Strip, the death of over 220 people as at the time of writing, the bombing of mosques, schools, disability homes and collective punishment?
A little known fact is that Israel rounded up 400 members of Hamas after the kidnapping and murder of the three teens. Five Palestinians were killed during the military operation. Two Palestinians were also killed on Nakba Day close to Ramallah in May. There was much silence from the Palestinians-are-causing-their-own-destruction-crew about these incidents.
The rockets are merely a symbolic sign of resistance by the Palestinians that in reality mean nothing to Israel. Irrespective of whether they are launched or not, the occupation will go on, the siege will go on and the killing will go on.
The Palestinians, Hamas and several other resistance groups operating from the Gaza Strip, have chosen to meet the Israelis by means of an armed resistance.
If that means that they have to fire their projectiles into Israel to make the world aware of their plight, as South African kids marched against the apartheid army in 1976 with stones in their hands, knowing full well the bloody consequences, then that is their choice that must be respected.
This does not mean the door of political dialogue is closed. The Palestinian leadership has persistently and currently seeks negotiations based on justice, freedom and equality. There are others, particularly in the civil society movements, who have launched the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign.
I walked the streets of Gaza a week after the 2009 Israeli attacks. Despite over 1400 deaths, the majority being civilians, I struggled to find a single resident of The Strip who demanded that any of the resistance groups stop their response to Israel’s attacks.
The Palestinians know well that their martyrs live on as per Quraanic ruling and that their blood is not in vain. Victory will with certainty come to them. Despite the tears and temporary mourning at the loss of a beloved child, every Palestinian mother knows with pride that the graves of her dead are victory’s foundations. Who are we to trample upon it.