This week, the news media appeared to notice Gaza again, reporting a deadly Israeli incursion and air strikes, as well as retaliatory missile-firings by Palestinian Resistance fighters. In the public mind, the news would have created an impression of violence ‘once more’ erupting in Gaza and disturbing a period of ‘relative calm’. Nothing could be further from the reality of Israel’s determined, relentless, day-to-day (and nightly) persecution of Gaza.
The election early in 2006, that saw Hamas winning 74 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), is almost always ignored by the mainstream news media, which usually refer to Hamas as having simply ‘seized power’. Even more obfuscating is the total lack of reporting on Israel’s daily acts of aggression against the population of Gaza. The inhumane Gaza blockade aside, Palestinian fishing boats and agriculture are under constant attack, and those who merely try to publicly protest invite death by Israeli Army sniper fire. There have been, in addition, four devastating Israeli blitzes on Gaza in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014. In 2008, Operation Cast Lead, according to independent Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, killed between 1,385 and 1,419 Palestinians and a UN-appointed fact-finding mission found strong evidence of war crimes. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch supported the mission’s findings. The malevolence of Israel’s purpose was obvious, with 3,540 housing units completely destroyed, as well as electricity infrastructure. Water supply, businesses and even kindergartens (at least 270) were targeted. Human Rights Watch accused the Israeli military of violating the Fourth Geneva Convention’s criminalisation of “wanton destruction”.
The month of November – what was not reported
As this latest news media re-discovery of Gaza occurred this month, and to show how there is never peace in Gaza, we will look at what has happened from the first of the month until the tenth. Up until 11 November, no missiles were fired from Gaza but 50 or so were launched that day. Between 1 and 10 November, the Israeli Army opened fire on Gaza farmland on eight occasions (even opening fire on shepherds) and, equipped with bulldozers, made two incursions. Over the same period, the Israeli Army killed three people, including a 17-year-old youth, and wounded 51. On 7 November another person in Gaza died of wounds sustained on 26 October this year. The Israeli Navy opened fire on scores of Palestinian fishing boats up until, and including, 10 November. In short, there were 46 Israeli ceasefire violations against Gaza before any Palestinian missiles were fired.
Israel’s blockade physically isolates the embattled enclave but those living there (over 60% are refugees from elsewhere) are one with the rest of Palestine. They do not, and will not, ignore the daily terror of population control meted out to Palestinians in the Israeli Occupied West Bank – even if the mainstream news media do. In addition to their own anguish, the people of Gaza hurt whenever and wherever Israel takes its malicious toll of Palestinian life, limb, liberty and property. During the days of November that led to the latest news media interest in Gaza, Israel was maintaining its never-ending contemptuous, population-control methods in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Zionist population control in East Jerusalem and West Bank
In the first ten days of November, the Israeli Army carried out 74 night peace disruption and/or home invasion raids on Palestinian communities, including seven on UN refugee camps. During these night home invasions, seven children and other minors, aged 14 to 17, were abducted. Over the same period, the Israeli Army destroyed 13 Palestinian homes, including an apartment building, and ordered the destruction of four more. In Kafr Qallil village, following a home invasion, the Israeli Army stayed all night, setting up a sniper post on the roof and taking prisoner two family members.
Through population control, Israel shows those whom it wishes to dominate that they are beneath contempt and must learn to obey. During this period at the beginning of November, in the district of Jenin, Israeli forces prevented the Ya’bad municipality from building a family public service centre in Imray village. The centre was needed to accommodate kindergartens and a centre for expectant mothers and mothers with children. The Israeli Army destroyed the building’s foundations and prevented construction workers from reaching the site. And so it continued. Israeli forces invaded Khirbeit Ibziq village, raided a school and destroyed a tent used as an office in the school grounds. The soldiers then made off with an agricultural tractor and another vehicle.
Near Bethlehem, the Israeli Army took prisoner a farmer, Ramzi Riziq Salah, for farming his own land, defying an Israeli Army order to abandon it. Israel is keen to target Palestinian agriculture in both Gaza and in the Occupied West Bank. During the first ten days of November, Israeli forces raided the al-Mafqarat area in east Yatta and ordered a farmer, Ahmad Mahmoud Al-Hamadat, off his land, never to return.
This malevolence towards Palestinian farmers is, of course, inspired by the Zionist regime’s desire to colonise Palestinian land. The Israeli Army and settlers often join forces and, early in November, the Israeli Army opened fire with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters on villagers trying to protect their crops from Occupation settlers who were invading Orif village farmland. In Bardala village, raiding Israeli forces, accompanying Mekorot Water Company employees, surveilled the village’s wells and ordered the uprooting of approximately 260 olive trees, claiming that the land belonged to Israel.
Children and schools
In Hebron, the Israeli Army ordered the destruction of the Khilat Al-Daba Secondary School and three mobile homes in the eastern districts of Yatta, as well as accommodation sheltering international peace activists. In support of Israeli Occupation settlers who were invading Orif village farmland, the Israeli Army opened fire, with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters, on villagers trying to protect their crops. The violence took place near the the village’s main school and two youngsters, Louay Adel Saadeh (16) and Ahmed Yousef Shehadeh (17), were among the wounded. A gang of Israeli settlers, yelling racist abuse and threatening to kill people in Hebron, attacked homes in the Tel al-Rumeida neighbourhood, injuring a 12-year-old boy, as well as his father: Salah Imad Abu Shamasnat. And in Qalqiliya, militants from the Ahavat Gilad Israeli Occupation settlement outpost stoned passing vehicles, damaging a vehicle and injuring the infant daughter of the driver of the vehicle, Ali Shahawna. The four-month-old child was hospitalised. At 2am, settler militants invaded Deir Dibwan village and spray-painted racist graffiti. One morning in early November, militants from the Sha’arei Tikva Israeli Occupation settlement pumped raw sewage onto the Beit Amin Secondary School’s playground in Azun Atma.
Israeli Army and Palestinian children
Besides abducting children, Israeli soldiers in the West Bank also find other ways to terrorise them. In the days leading up to the latest Israeli incursion and air strikes on Gaza, they seized an eight-year-old child, Omar Rabi’ Saber Abu Ayash, at the entrance to Beit Ummar, holding the terrified boy captive for some time. And on 10 November, Israeli forces, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters, raided Jib al-Dib village and stole children’s toys and playground equipment from a local park. Surely no other state-sponsored military spends so much time ill-treating and terrorising children as does the Israeli Army. Videos of them in action can be seen online. Here’s one example, showing Israeli soldiers forcing an eight-year-old child in the Aida UN refugee camp to accompany them. Another video shows Israeli soldiers forcing another eight-year-old boy, Sufian Abu Hitah, to walk from house to house after catching him looking for a lost toy. The soldiers have no regard for the shoeless child’s crying and, as the video shows, it takes around 15 of them to feel safe enough to terrorise him.
Although this is far from all, we will end with the following: Hebron’s Tel al-Rumeida neighbourhood, where Israeli Occupation settlers beat up a resident; al-Eisawiya village, where raiding Israeli forces order a halt to rehabilitation work being carried out on a village football ground; and Ras Kar Kar village, where Israeli troops open live-fire on an ambulance, wounding the driver, Firas Samara. This is everyday life for Palestinians, for them there is nothing unusual about what happened over the first ten days of November. But where is our outrage? Failing to report these inhumanities is making it easier for Israel to achieve its racist, territorial ambition. We are all responsible.