News is coming in that Israeli shells have killed 19 Palestinian civilians, most of them children, as they slept this morning, Wednesday 8th November. This follows a week-long attack on the Gaza town of Beit Hanun in which 60 Palestinians were killed. Many of those were civilians too, but most were young men carrying guns. I must say that I don’t consider young men fighting to liberate their land as equal to occupation troops, who seem to me to be fair military targets. All Beit Hanun men aged between 16 and 45 have been rounded up and taken off to join the Israeli gulag. There are already nearly 10,000 Palestinian prisoners (or hostages – that’s what the Western media would call them if they were Israelis) in Israeli jails.
This week a 700-year-old mosque was destroyed in Beit Hanun. Destruction of Palestinian heritage, of the environment, of sewage and irrigation systems, and of residential buildings, continues unabated. None of this is new to Gaza. Most of the population are refugees from the lands stolen in 1948, from the villages of central Palestine that were ethnically cleansed and bulldozed then. The Gazan refugee camps have witnessed sporadic massacres ever since.
More have been killed in the past week than in the London tube bombings. Gaza is now worse than any pre-Nazi Jewish ghetto in Europe, and perhaps as bad as a Nazi-era ghetto. It’s closed from the land and sea – when fishermen try to fish they are shot at by Israeli boats. There are continual sonic booms from the air, which smash windows and traumatise children. The power is still intermittent at best – the only power station was bombed a few months ago. Even without major incursions, the average number of Gazans murdered by Israel since the summer has been eight a day. I don’t notice expressions of horror from the ‘international community.’ I don’t notice Bush or Blair frothing about ‘civilisation’ and ‘barbarism.’ In fact the ‘international community’ – meaning the US and the EU and the client Arab regimes – is directly participating in the throttling of Gaza by imposing extreme sanctions on the already impoverished Palestinian territories because the Palestinians voted for a resistance government. Most of the weaponry used to murder in Gaza is American built and supplied. Bush describes Israeli killing sprees as ‘self-defence.’ After all, one Israeli soldier was killed this week, and the crap Qassam rockets have killed 8 people over the last six years.
Is anybody still surprised when Arabs and Muslims scorn official Western bleatings about law for the farce that they are? Is anybody surprised that many Muslims believe this kind of violence must be met by violence?
There is plenty that needs to be negotiated between Israelis and Arabs, such as the future of the millions of refugees who live in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, and how European Jews can be integrated peacefully into the region while keeping their cultural and religious rights intact. Whether there will be a Palestinian state or a unitary state, and what kind of unitary state, needs to be negotiated. But on the brute fact of the brutal occupation, there is nothing to negotiate. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is every bit as unlawful and criminal as Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait. If this occupation was imposed on Western Europeans or Americans for even a day there would be an outcry. There must be (but won’t be) an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces, and an immediate end to the siege.
The slogan says, No Justice No Peace. This is not a threat but a statement of what is obvious and inevitable. Oppression breeds hatred, and reaction. Of course, the people in charge, in every country, are far more interested in in conquest and wealth than in peace and justice. There has to be change from below. Real change. Swapping Democrat for Republican imperialists won’t make any difference.