On November 14, Israel launched a violent military attack against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Supposedly this attack was in response to the launching of rockets towards Israel by Palestinian military groups. Israel’s brutal attack was presented to the world by the media and politicians as a necessary retaliation. President Obama was quick to say that Israel has the right to defend itself. But this has nothing to do with reality. The fact is that Israel and its military occupy the Palestinian territories, subjecting people to daily humiliation and deprivation. Israel’s attack was meant to maintain that occupation and to reinforce Israel’s control.
In fact, the assault on Gaza began with the Israeli assassination of Ahmad al-Jabari, a Palestinian military official who had been responsible for negotiating a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian military groups. Nothing could be clearer – Israel wanted this conflict to take place in order to carry out it’s brutal attack. In this attack, 163 people were killed. At least half of them were civilians and 37 of them were children. The attack destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza, destroying houses, schools, hospitals, and water treatment facilities.
This is not the first time Israel has launched such an assault. In late December 2008, Israel launched an invasion on Gaza, also supposedly to stop attacks. In this invasion, over 1,000 Palestinians were killed including 320 children. This time, everyone feared that Israel would seek to carry out this kind of bloodshed once again. For now there is a cease-fire, but Israel’s bombs are a clear reminder of what kind of violence Israel can launch.
Israel has been a force of violence and occupation in the Middle East for over half a century. Israel was established in 1948 in the territory of Palestine. Immediately, the Israeli military carried out a massive expulsion of the Arab population. Since 1948, Israel has fought wars against every one of the surrounding countries. Israel has attacked Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. All of these wars have resulted in more territory being taken.
In 1967, Israel took control of the West Bank, and Gaza Strip – territories inhabited by over three million Palestinian people.
In the Gaza Strip, conditions are particularly harsh. In Gaza, 1.5 million people live together in the space of 141 square miles. They are subjected to searches at checkpoints, deprived of the right to travel and to work, and constantly subjected to military violence by the state of Israel. To add insult to injury, the Israeli government supports the policy of settlements – building Israeli cities inside of the Palestinians’ occupied territories. The U.S. government has supported Israel in all of this, with an average of $3.1 billion dollars in military aid every year. The bullets and the bombs that kill Palestinian men, women and children are bought and paid for by American tax dollars.
The occupied territories have seen major uprisings, or intifadas against the occupations. In 1987 a mass movement against the occupation took place, and again in 2000 a major series of demonstrations broke out in the Occupied territories. Each time the Palestinians protested they were met with brutal violence. The politicians from Israel to the United States talk about a solution. But the next day the occupation continues as usual. What’s worse, since 2006 Gaza has been under economic blockade, with no food, medicine, fuel or building materials to enter the territory.
Some individuals and groups in the Palestinian territories turn in frustration to launching attacks, including rockets towards Israeli cities. Israel portrays these attacks as a real threat. But the numbers speak for themselves – only 23 Israeli civilians have been killed by rocket attacks in the last ten years. Meanwhile 4,660 Palestinians in the Gaza strip have been killed in the last ten years, including over 1,000 children.
Israel’s latest attack on the people of Gaza was one more act of brutal violence by an occupying power. In order to maintain its military occupation of the Palestinian people, Israel is willing to kill families with children, blow up homes and schools, and make life intolerable for 1.5 million people. This has nothing to do with the rockets that were fired from Gaza. There can be no real peace until Israel ends its occupation of the Palestinian people.