From Socialist Voice, January–February 2009

Gaza massacre a crime against humanity

It is difficult to find words to describe the barbarous attack launched by the Israeli military on Gaza on 27 December. What the Israeli media call an “operation” can only be defined as a massacre. At the time of writing, about a thousand people have died, a third of them children. More than two thousand children have been injured, many of them horribly mutilated. Decent people of all backgrounds the world over are horrified and are demanding an end to the killing.
     The Israelis are implementing a policy of taking no prisoners, attacking targets regardless of “collateral damage” to civilians, using Palestinian families as shields, bombarding densely populated areas, and using illegal weapons, such as phosphorus bombs.
     Massacres of civilian populations are not unknown, even in the twenty-first century; but what is different here is not only the scale of the slaughter but the fact that it is so public, and that there is not an iota of shame on the part of the perpetrators. Mass-murdering armies usually deny their crimes, or claim that they were a “mistake” or an “accident” or the work of a maverick commander. The Israeli “Defence Force” is proud of its work. This is possible only because of the racism that is endemic in Israeli society. The ratio of about a hundred Palestinian lives for every Israeli life lost since 27 December seems to raise no eyebrows in the Israeli state, except among a small and brave minority.
     The immediate task is to stop the savagery and to organise the broadest possible support towards that end.
     • Raise your voice in public and in private and protest against the Israeli campaign of death and destruction. Express your horror at the attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, shopping centres, places of worship, and public buildings. Demand the opening of the borders to allow emergency aid in and to permit the exit of seriously wounded patients to hospitals abroad.
     • Contact local TDs and MEPs. Support the positive humanitarian position shown by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mícheál Martin TD, and go on to demand that the Israeli ambassador be asked to leave. Insist also that the EU trade agreement with Israel be suspended. Support the ICTU’s call for economic sanctions against Israel.
     • Boycott Israeli goods. In particular look at the labels on fruit, vegetables, and herbs. (It says something about Irish agriculture that the potatoes in many supermarkets are Israeli!) Let the management of the shop know that you are boycotting Israeli goods.
     • Insist that the process of prosecution be initiated to bring Israeli political and military leaders to trial for their crimes.
     The people of Gaza—1½ million of them, tightly packed in an area about half the size of County Louth—are among the most defenceless people in the world. The present onslaught has been carefully planned over the past three years. During that period Israel besieged the enclave, allowed minimal access to outsiders, and only permitted inadequate supplies on an unpredictable day-to-day basis.
     The present atrocity is only one stage in a long conflict that will end only when the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and democracy is recognised and the Israeli state is divested of its racist and sectarian essence. The people of Gaza are mostly the survivors and the offspring of the populations of west and south Palestine who were “ethnically cleansed” in 1948. Most of them have never seen the outside world, except on television.
     The Gaza Strip, as it became known, was administered by Egypt between 1948 and 1967. Essential services, including schools, were run by the UN Works and Relief Agency.
     The West Bank and Gaza were occupied by Israel after the 1967 war. As occupations go, it was particularly vicious. There has been no economic development in Gaza in particular, and most adults are unemployed. During the same period the misnamed Israeli Defence Force launched numerous attacks on the area, including both “targeted assassinations” and acts of sheer terrorism against the population. Israel withdrew its land forces and eight thousand zionist colonists from Gaza in August 2005, partly because of local resistance and partly to facilitate the consolidation and expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, where an influx of twelve thousand additional planters followed the Gaza withdrawal.
     When the result of the Palestinian general election of January 2006 was not to the liking of the occupying power, the European Union—egged on by Israel and the United States—withdrew funding from the Palestinian Authority, which resulted in teachers, doctors and other public servants having to work for nothing. The machinations that followed created a partition within a partition, whereby Gaza was isolated politically as well as physically from the West Bank. All exits from the Strip were sealed. The description of Gaza as a prison became more apt than ever.
     Three years of this ghetto-like existence left the people of Gaza a soft target for the onslaught of the last three weeks. The daily pictures of corpses and destruction have been a cause of celebration in most Israeli circles and by zionist supporters abroad. But cheer as they may, the world has seen the true face of zionism, an ideology that is beyond reason, humanitarianism, morality, and law.

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