Israeli atrocities are the extension of Nakba
The slogans like Day of Freedom and Day of Victory started circulating in the mainstream media right after the ceasefire was called between Israel and Hamas, halting the deadly violence and horrendous atrocities committed by the Israeli forces in Gaza. The ceasefire put a temporary stop to the physical attacks on Palestinians. Still, the international media calling it a “victory for both parties involved” mercilessly undermines the loss of life and life-long trauma suffered by the people of Palestine.
The people of Gaza displayed exemplary resilience by celebrating in the streets where their loved ones had been slaughtered by Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Despite teargas shelling in Al Aqsa mosque and continuous hovering rocket fire even after the ceasefire.
The ceasefire came as a sigh of relief for the masses protesting worldwide, in cyber and physical spaces, supporting the suffering Palestinians. Many felt jolted looking at the commemoration visuals. The realisation hit hard that even a benign pause in violence and destruction, without any indication of long-term freedom and justice, gave these people hope and spark.
This situation has placed an even greater onus on the international community to not see the ceasefire as a solution. A temporary ceasefire must not be taken to be the end of the Zionist mission of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians or the colonisation of Palestine.
The international community, especially the US and the European Union, has acted irresponsibly and with insensitivity since the beginning of the crisis. The first evidence of such behaviour comes from the Balfour Declaration of 1917, when the United Kingdom sowed the seeds for the displacement of Palestinians. Since 1948, over a hundred and fifty-five massacres have occurred in the region leading to the world’s most prominent human rights and refugee crisis. The western world’s unabashed support of Israel’s xenophobic rhetoric and radicalised policies undermines its credibility as a protector of human rights and democratic virtues. The world leaders can no longer condemn Israel’s aggression through some flowery tweets only. They have to recognize the intensity of settler oppression and take practical measures to fix the crisis.
The western countries’ unabashed support of Israel’s xenophobic rhetoric and radicalised policies question their credibility as protector of human rights and democratic virtues.
First, the international community must recognise that the recent violence in Sheikh Jarrah, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and acts of terrorism by Israel are an extension of the Nakba. The international media must learn to draw a clear distinction between an anti-Semitic stance and criticism of Israel’s violent policies. There is a dire need to understand that being pro-Palestine does not mean being anti-Jewish.
Secondly, the United Nations has to present itself as an absolute and neutral international authority by acting as the enforcer of international law. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, regarding war crimes by Israel, said, “ If found to be discriminate and disproportionate in their impact on civilians and civilian objects, such attacks may constitute war crimes.” The statement is indicative of the power dynamics at play. There is live footage and personal accounts of the victims all over social media. These include extreme torture and killing of women and children, attacks on residential buildings, media outlets, hospitals and even Red Cross personnel. Moreover, the legality of war itself is perfidy under the disguise of self-defence. The resistance of the UN to call out all these war crimes supports the notion of Israel being powerful enough to be above the law.
Citizen journalism holds great promise as a tool to report oppression. Live reports and personal experiences of people helplessly watching their houses being bombed and families murdered have made the crisis more real for an outsider than ever before. Public opinion has primarily swayed in favour of putting an end to long-standing oppression of Palestinians. Public protests worldwide equate the ethnic cleansing in Palestine with the apartheid in South Africa. Protestors from several countries have added boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in their formal demand to pressure their governments.
The social media activism by the masses has shaken Israel. A proof of this was the resort to digital apartheid. All possible attempts were made to censor pro-Palestine voices by distorting the social media algorithms. Internet towers and electricity supply to the region were attacked. All these efforts have proved futile.
The masses protesting for freedom, decolonisation, and right to life and land for Palestinians are seeing the reality more closely and freely than ever before. The ceasefire is only the first step. The real solution lies in addressing injustice, illegal blockade, forced settlements and systematic acts of terrorism committed by Israel over the decades.
The writer works for Department of Governance and Global Studies at Information Technology University