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On the 10th anniversary of ‘Cast Lead’ — Palestine’s Sharpeville massacre

Israel/Palestine
on 12 Comments

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the horror inflicted on the people of the Gaza Strip when Israeli war planes launched massive airstrikes on the besieged strip. Nothing has changed! To add insult to injury, and because the so-called “International Community” did absolutely nothing to put an end to Israel’s war crimes, the latter repeated the attacks in 2012 and in 2014 killing more than 4,000 civilians and injuring tens of thousands. During the 2008 massacre, an Israeli soldier was reported to have said in an interview: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him.” This is an expression of the mainstream ideology ruling Israel.

And now Gaza has returned to its state of siege, confronted with the same international apathy. Ten years after the Israeli assault that lasted 22 long days and dark nights, during which its brave people were left alone to face one of the strongest armies in the world, Gaza no longer makes the news. Its people die slowly, its children are malnourished, its water contaminated, and yet it is deprived even of a word of sympathy from the leaders of the “civilized world.” In fact, the dehumanization of the Palestinians of Gaza continues unabated. Almost 300 civilians have been killed by Israeli snipers stationed in ditches at the eastern fence on the strip since the eruption of a series of non-violent demonstrations as part of the Great March of Return in March 2018. And the international community is still blind and deaf.

Israel could not have carried out its brutal assault, preceded and followed by a punishing siege, without a green light from leading world powers. The urgent question is how to hold Israel accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights in order to forestall further escalation and a larger bloodbath now that Israelis are preparing themselves for new Knesset elections in April. We do know what that means: more Palestinian suffering as the competing Zionist parties will use that to guarantee more votes.

One way to begin holding Israel accountable is through direct witness and citizen solidarity. For example, a group of courageous Israeli citizens demonstrate on the other side of the fence in solidarity with the Great March of Return and to remind the world of the cruel consequences of the siege and the ongoing massacre.  It is one of the remarkable undertakings by very few conscientious Israeli individuals that have decided to take action into their own hand. But that is not enough to stop the “greater Shoah” we’ve been threatened with.

A member of the Hamas’s security forces inspects a building that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on December 27, 2008. Israel hammered Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 210 people in one of the bloodiest days of the decades-long Middle East conflict. (Photo: APAIMAGES PHOTO / NAAMAN OMAR)

The reaction of the international community has been very disappointing what with the American administration, followed by the Australian and the Brazilian governments, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The EU is paying lip service to Palestinian human rights without taking a single concrete step to penalize the perpetrator; both the US and the EU continue to strengthen ties with Israel. The Arab governments, those in the Gulf in particular, have increased their normalization with apartheid Israel regardless of the bloodbath in Gaza.

Once again, we need to refer to South Africa. The South African apartheid regime came under repeated pressure as the United Nations Security Council passed one resolution after another condemning its inhumane treatment of blacks. This gave much-needed succour to the oppressed, while we Palestinians, today, are bereft of even this tiny comfort because the right-wing American government continues to use its veto to ensure that Israel escapes censure.

Today, there is a growing grassroots struggle inside Palestine, much as there was inside apartheid South Africa. An intensified international solidarity movement with a common agenda can make the struggle for Palestine resonate in every country in the world. And this is exactly what the BDS movement is doing making apartheid Israel launching a war against it. In Gaza, our goal now, as civil society organizations, is to lift the genocidal siege as a first step towards implementing all basic rights guaranteed under international law. To accomplish this, many activists, Palestinian and international, have launched a boycott campaign modelled on the global South African anti-apartheid campaign. This campaign is a democratic movement based on the struggle for human rights and the implementation of international law. Our struggle is not religious, ethnic, nor racial, but rather universalist; it is a struggle that guarantees the humanization of our people in the face of a dreadful Israeli war machine. Hence the importance of relating BFDS with the Great March of Return.

In 2009, we argued that Gaza 2009, like the Sharpeville 1960 massacre, cannot be ignored. It demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity. We never thought that we would witness worse massacres! Now is the time to boycott the Apartheid Israeli state, to divest from its economy and to impose sanctions against it. It is high time that the world imposes a military embargo on Israel the same way it did against the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Bodies of Palestinians are seen at Shifa hospital in Gaza December 27, 2008. Israel’s air force fired about 30 missiles at targets in the Gaza Strip on that day, destroying several Hamas police compounds and killing more than 210 people, medical officials and witnesses said. (Photo: APAIMAGES PHOTO / NAAMAN OMAR)

Haidar Eid
About Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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12 Responses

  1. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    December 27, 2018, 4:25 pm

    The massacre of innocent people is a serious matter. It is not a thing to be easily forgotten. It is our duty to cherish their memory.
    Mahatma Gandhi

    I will not forget. I will not forgive.

  2. JustJessetr
    JustJessetr
    December 27, 2018, 9:31 pm

    Great essay. You had me until…

    “To accomplish this, many activists, Palestinian and international, have launched a boycott campaign modelled on the global South African anti-apartheid campaign…Now is the time to boycott the Apartheid Israeli state, to divest from its economy and to impose sanctions against it.”

    Haidar, when even Gaza is set to assist in the manufacture of Sodastream, it’s time to stop making unhelpful comparisons to the South African model. Nothing happens in the Gaza Strip without the blessing of Hamas, so who really stands for boycotting anymore? Not that it ever helped a single Palestinian anyway get the land, water, money or rights you deserve.

    https://www.haaretz.com/amp/israel-news/sodastream-plans-to-build-factory-in-gaza-ceo-says-1.6766347

    • pgtl10
      pgtl10
      December 28, 2018, 12:55 pm

      No hasbara troll, we should allow boycotts as a method to improve relations. Israel follows a South African style of governing by throwing enough smoke to make one believe there is a democracy when its just apartheid.

      • JustJessetr
        JustJessetr
        December 28, 2018, 2:46 pm

        Ok. How do you square boycotting SodaStream when Hamas allows it to operate in the Gaza Strip and will employ Palestinians?

        By the way, I mention nothing about allowing or not allowing boycotts. I merely implied that they are useless.

      • pgtl10
        pgtl10
        December 29, 2018, 2:57 pm

        Of course you think they’re useless. It allows you to justify oppression.

        Hamas is not all Palestinians. Stop using them as an excuse to keep pushing your agenda. Palestinians who are desperate and have calorie restrictions cannot be held responsible when they are put in a position to accept some factory or else.

      • JustJessetr
        JustJessetr
        December 30, 2018, 8:05 pm

        Not sure I accept your reasoning. Hamas controls everything in the Strip even if there was no blockade. It’s Hamas’ decision to allow the factory and there are certainly other businesses they could allow besides Sodastream. They don’t strike me as doing anything at a point of a gun. So I wonder what their reasons are.

    • JustJessetr
      JustJessetr
      December 30, 2018, 7:01 pm

      Not sure I accept your reasoning. Hamas controls everything in the Strip even if there was no blockade. It’s Hamas’ decision to allow the factory and there are certainly other businesses they could allow besides Sodastream. They don’t strike me as doing anything at a point of a gun. So I wonder what their reasons are.

  3. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    December 27, 2018, 10:16 pm

    > JustJessetr (corrected)

    Nothing happens in the Gaza Strip without the blessing of Hamas, Israel, so who really stands for boycotting anymore? Not that it ever helped a single Palestinian anyway get the land, water, money or rights stolen by Israel.
    Not to mention the thousands of Palestinian lives stolen/snuffed out by Israel.

  4. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    December 27, 2018, 10:24 pm

    > JustJessetr (corrected)

    Nothing happens in the Gaza Strip without the blessing of Hamas Israel, so who really stands for boycotting anymore? Not that it ever helped a single Palestinian anyway get the land, water, money or rights stolen by Israel.
    Not to mention the thousands of Palestinian lives stolen/snuffed out by Israel.

  5. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    December 28, 2018, 9:55 am

    Of note:

    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/12/19/israel-furious-after-hamas-leader-haniyeh-invited-to-russia

    “Israel ‘furious’ after Hamas leader Haniyeh invited to Russia”
    The New Arab, Dec. 19/18

    EXCERPT:
    “Israel has slammed Russia for inviting Hamas’s chief Ismail Haniyeh to visit Moscow later this month.

    “According to a TV report by Israel’s Channel 10, complaints from Israel were voiced by Israel’s embassy in Moscow and also communicated to the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv.

    “But the Kremlin snubbed Israel’s comments, saying Israel itself is in talks with Hamas, which the government in Tel Aviv regards as a terrorist organisation.

    “Last month, Haniyeh received an invitation to make an official visit to Moscow and is expected to arrive in late December.

    “Haniyeh’s office said the invitation was delivered on Wednesday by a visiting Russian diplomat. Its statement did not elaborate on the purpose of the visit but reports suggest the talks will focus on reconciliation with Fatah and Gaza.

    “Russia maintains high-level contact with Hamas, which Israel, the US and the European Union classify as a terrorist group.”
    ________________________________________________________________________

    https://apnews.com/020967dd6d01449c97f478a4b8fc9567

    “Poll shows Hamas leaders would win Palestinian elections”
    AP News, Dec. Dec. 18/19

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — “A public opinion poll shows that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would lose to the leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas if elections were held today.

    “The poll conducted by prominent pollster Khalil Shikaki and released Tuesday shows that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win with 49 percent to Abbas’ 42 percent.

    “Shikaki links the results to what’s perceived as a Hamas win in its latest confrontation with Israel and dissatisfaction with Abbas’ government, particularly over a new social security law.

    “The poll interviewed 1,200 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and had a 3 percent margin of error.

    “Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas are bitter rivals. Palestinian elections were last held in 2006 and have been repeatedly delayed since.”

  6. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw
    December 28, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Did the Blacks of Sharpsville have Grad rockets?

    No, I don’t think they did.

    • John O
      John O
      December 29, 2018, 7:29 am

      @Pheasant – Do the people mown down by the IDF at the Gaza fence have grad rockets?

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