Since when did innocent civilians, fuel storages, mosques, police and universities become military targets? And how do incessant attacks make any room for compromise and negotiations? The numbers continue to rise as 507 people have been killed and 2,400 injured since the Israeli bombardment over the tiny 360 square-kilometers of the Gaza strip that started on Dec. 27 in Palestine. In the same period of time, Palestinian rockets killed four Israelis.
Over the weekend, on day eight of the operation, the Israeli government launched a ground offensive. Israel claims that the assault on Gaza is aimed at ending persistent Hamas rocket attacks from the strip, but its offensive has sparked international condemnation and protests around the world.
Most of the 1.5 million people in the densely populated space have no means of finding shelter from the raids, and humanitarian groups say supplies of food and fuel are running dangerously low. Israel has also made it increasingly difficult for journalists to cover the situation in Gaza, making it reminiscent of the Myanmar military regime and North Korea’s state-sponsored censorship.
So why can’t the two sides just get along? Why didn’t India just accept the British colonists who implemented racist institutions designed to make Indians feel inferior? Why can’t the world’s superpower, the United States, simply win in the crippled and impoverished countries of Afghanistan and Iraq?
Well, the failed attempts at peace via the Arab Peace Plan and the Annapolis Conference prove there is no solution to apartheid and occupation. Before the ongoing massacre in the Gaza Strip, Israel had continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased in the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699. The policies of the Israeli government toward the Palestinian people seem to be designed to perpetuate behaviors that will provide justification for the disposal of the Palestinian people. Of course, they never expected Palestinian resilience and resistance, for the Palestinians were a land without a people and a people without a land, right? Wrong.
So, why Gaza? Hamas is an alternative to the mistrusted and corrupt U.S.-supported opposition party of Fatah. The United Nations-monitored, democratic election of Hamas in June 2006 led to the Israeli siege of Gaza, punishing a population for the government they elected into power. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities, such as cooking or heating oil and medication. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe, which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.
Israel is the largest military force in the region, largely supported by the United States. They are the fourth largest exporter of arms. By claiming self-defense, Israel seeks to redefine terror and militancy in the region, averting numerous calls from human rights organizations to stop violating international law. Terrorism is defined as unlawful violence intended to frighten or coerce a people or government in order to achieve a political or ideological agenda. Zionism transformed the beautiful religion of Judaism into a racial and nationalized movement in order to serve a political agenda, namely the creation of the artificial Jewish-majority state of Israel. It is a political ideology, and Hamas symbolizes a movement that threatens this ideology. The state of Israel could care less about what religion has to say about detonating bombs in Gaza. And what about the international community? Where is the authority of the U.N. Charter? As the old saying goes, silence is consent.
With the hope of creating anarchy in the strip by removing the mainstay of law and order, what are the prospects for peace in a state that has its origins in brutality and dispossession? Where is peace without justice and respect for human rights? Nowhere. With such a violent beginning, Israel must continue to act violently in order to sustain its very existence, for it knows that it is trying to rewrite history by deleting the narrative of the Palestinian tragedy in order to avoid an ugly irony about the people it has been subjugating for the past 60 years who refuse to be bullied in their own homes.
Underneath the death and destruction, it is a profound paranoia disguised by military might and pure arrogance. You cannot humiliate and denigrate a people and then force them into submission. The massacres currently taking place have taught the world a lesson that it will soon forget: You can break the resistors, but you cannot break the resistance. And that is why the people of Gaza have to suffer, for it is a reminder of what Israel seeks to eliminate, a people with a land and a land with a people.
Yasmin Nouh is a third-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at email@example.com.