In the last weeks, Israeli bombs and guns killed nearly a thousand people in the Gaza strip. The list of atrocities keeps expanding. Hospitals and schools are being blown up. Nearly one child per hour was killed during the height of the attacks. People taking refuge in a United Nations facility were bombed. Are we supposed to accept that this mass slaughter is an act of self-defense by Israel? Only those who are blind and deaf to the suffering of ordinary people could believe such a thing.
How did this latest round of violence start? It supposedly began with the murder of three Israeli teenagers. The murders were carried out by two Palestinians. These men kidnapped the teenagers who were hitchhiking in the occupied territories. The teenagers were able to call the police who listened as the panicking kidnappers shot them. This was without a doubt a horrific tragedy, but what came next was cold-blooded political manipulation.
In the following days, the Israeli intelligence agency, Shin Bet, placed a gag order on the Israeli media, censoring the facts as they emerged. Then, Israeli politicians, knowing that the teenagers had been killed, called for a massive manhunt and rescue mission. They told the teens’ parents that they were possibly still alive and brought the boys’ mothers before the United Nations to call for international support. Meanwhile, the Israeli Minister of Defense called for village after village in Gaza to be flattened in revenge. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned all Palestinians, saying “They are not like us. We sanctify life, they sanctify death!”
The Israeli public, manipulated by the politicians was overtaken by a horrific racist attitude. Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated calling for revenge. And, in an act of unspeakable violence, six Israeli men captured and murdered a 16-year old Palestinian boy, forcing him to drink gasoline and burning his body. By that time, the politicians had done their work. The murder of children was used to launch an even greater atrocity in Gaza.
As of July 28th, 1058 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured. More than 1,134 Palestinian homes have been torn down. There have been nearly 100 schools destroyed and three hospitals. More than 100,000 people have fled their homes, looking for shelter. Imagine if this sort of destruction took place in the Bay Area. Gaza is smaller than San Jose with twice as many people!
This is not the first time that the Palestinians have suffered military assault. For half a century the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been occupied by the Israeli military. Israel controls every aspect of daily life from the borders, to the water supply, to the power supply. A blockade has been imposed, depriving Gaza of food, medicine, and building materials. Israel measures the food sent into Gaza, keeping 1.8 million people barely alive. In addition, every day the Palestinians face military violence including invasions in 2006, 2009, and 2012.
Some Palestinian groups have responded to Israeli violence with improvised rockets fired across the border into Israeli towns. These attacks have resulted in the death of 26 people since 2004. More than ten times as many people died in automobile accidents in Israel just last year. This is hardly a threat to the existence of the state of Israel as American and Israeli politicians claim.
The blood of Palestinians and innocent Israelis is not only on the hands of the Israeli government. The U.S. has supported Israel militarily and politically since its founding. In 1948 the state of Israel was established, displacing 750,000 Palestinians and seizing 78 percent of the land of Palestine. The U.S. has supported Israel in return for Israel’s support of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.
The oppression of the Palestinian people is a historic crime just like slavery in the American South, apartheid in South Africa, the genocide of the Native Americans, or the oppression of Jews in Europe. But this crime is taking place in front of our eyes, not in the history books.
It is up to us to say loud and clear – END U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE NOW!