…introduction by Jonas E. Alexis, VT Editor
Norman Finkelstein made the point a few years ago that “Israel has to suffer a major defeat” in order to join the civilized world. Why did he say that? Well, Israel has never followed international and universal laws when it comes to politics and wars. Israel does whatever it pleases when it comes to wiping out civilians and innocent people. This is exactly what we are currently witnessing.
In his recent work Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, which is published by the University of California Press, Finkelstein takes the Israeli project in Gaza by the balls by producing one document after another showing that Israel has committed crimes in Gaza—crimes that would put people like Ted Bundy or Ted Kaczynski to shame.
“The Gaza Strip is among the most densely populated places in the world. More than two-thirds of its inhabitants are refugees, and more than half are under eighteen years of age.
…‘operations’ against Gaza’s largely defenseless population. Thousands have perished, and tens of thousands have been left homeless. In the meantime, Israel has subjected Gaza to a merciless illegal blockade. What has befallen Gaza is a man-made humanitarian disaster.”
Gaza, Finkelstein writes in the preface of the book, “is a distinctly evil crime,” and “the documentary record bears it out.”
Finkelstein takes all of Israel’s arguments with respect to its operation and Gaza and scholarly tears them to shred. Israel continues to act in ways that are incompatible with the moral and political order largely because Israel has been getting away with its evil deeds without any repercussions from the West. Enough is enough.
By Yanis Iqbal
Israel is again conducting bloody attacks on Gaza. Interminable rounds of shelling by Israeli terrorists – known as Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – have left in their wake infant corpses and blood-stained rubble of residential buildings. Every attempt is being made to decapitate the present and disembowel any hope for a better future. The current massacre campaigns by the Zionist state have followed the well-established pattern of colonial aggressions, characterized by an unconscionable logic of inhumanity.
1) Israeli state & Zionist settlers tried to illegally displace Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
2) Palestinians resisted.
3) Israeli troops brutally cracked down on Palestinians, storming one of the holiest sites, Al-Aqsa Mosque, on one of the holiest nights, Laylat-al Qadr, of the holiest month, Ramadan, in one of the holiest cities, Jerusalem, while Muslims prayed peacefully. Israeli raids continued for two days, injuring hundreds.
4) Palestinians fired rockets in retaliation.
5) Israel ruthlessly bombed Gaza, killing 24 Palestinians, including 9 children, and wounding more than 100 others.
The US – instead of denouncing the child-murdering bombing of Gaza- hypocritically decried the rockets fired by Palestine on Israel, saying it recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself. Speaking at his daily press briefing, US State of Department spokesperson Ned Price glibly said:
“Let me start by saying that the United States condemns in the strongest terms the barrage of rocket attacks fired into Israel in recent hours. This is an unacceptable escalation.” “While we urge de-escalation on all sides, we also recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and to defend its people and its territory.”
This is pure doublespeak, modeled after US President Joe Biden’s statement that “Israelis wake up every morning facing an existential threat. That’s why we always have to be adamant that Israel must be able to defend itself.” Price well knows that the situation in Palestine can’t be “de-escalated” as long as Israel vilely uses the principle of “self-defense” to rent the Gazan air with cries of agony.
While USA was engaged in verbal skullduggery, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said all IDF units must prepare for a wider campaign of an “indefinite” duration. He ordered that attacks continue on Hamas facilities for weapons manufacturing and storage – and for the onslaught to be expanded to additional targets. In other words, bloodbath on a larger scale.
The bombing of Gaza can continue because powerful countries like USA shamelessly invert the roles of Israelis and Palestinians: the Israeli aggressor once again becomes the persecuted victim, as per the Exodus story, while the Palestinians, strangled, wounded and immobilized in the open air prison that is Gaza, enclosed within electrified walls and fences, are transformed into terrorists, relentlessly and heartlessly persecuting the innocent Israeli victims. This inversion has real effects: it serves to reinforce the image of the Palestinian as enemy, as sub-human, an entity not entitled to any dignity.
When the inversion schema is formalized, we are presented with the concept of Israel’s “right to self-defense”. The issue is framed as Hamas shooting rockets into Israel and Israel retaliating to defend itself. Here, the context – Israel’s murderous occupation of and continuing war crimes against the Palestinian people – disappears into thin air. It is also forgotten that the resistance of democratically elected Hamas to Gaza’s illegal occupation is just and according to international law.
First, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip since 1967 in violation of international law. While Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment. As long as Israel continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, it cannot use force in “self-defense” from resistance attacks coming from Gaza.
The issue of legality was neatly summed up by international jurist John Dugard in 2014: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s…assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”
Second, under UN Resolution 3246, the Palestinians have the right to liberate themselves from foreign occupation through “armed struggle”. In fact, the resolution reaffirmed”the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means”.
It is pertinent to note that Hamas’s weapons are no match for Israel’s military might. Its limited rockets are miserable devices. They fly erratically and scare their adversaries, but kill very few, destroy very little. They are almost like sling shots, compared to Israel’s over 90% effective anti-rocket protective Iron Dome, and land, sea and air power.
And while Israel attacks on-the-ground, from the sea and in the air with far superior weapons, Hamas’s only other recourse is underground, using tunnels to fight back. Considering all this, it becomes clear that moral outrage over Palestinian resistance is a part of propaganda efforts to portray Israelis as vulnerable, terrified victims of Hamas rockets.
As is evident, the terrorist bombing of Gaza is completely untenable. No amount of obfuscation can conceal the fact that Israel’s occupation of the enclave is entirely synonymous with the endless dehumanization of Palestinians. The settler-colonial state of Israel has to be dismantled; the occupation has to end.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at [email protected]. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
 Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018), preface.