If a Palestinian ran over & crushed to death an Israeli child, an “investigation” wouldn’t be opened, that Palestinian would be in jail or dead right now. On top of that, the Palestinian’s home would be raided, a few family members would be arrested & their community’s lives would be made a living hell. But because the dead child is a 5 year old Palestinian girl, there is no “flare up,” no “ceasefire shattered,” no “calm disrupted.” It is just ignored.
Saturday mornings in suburbia mean lawnmowers. Rainy season in the South means trucks spraying pesticide to kill the mosquitoes. To me, all of these mean terrifying sounds and moments of paralyzing fear. I survived Operation Protective Edge, a brutal Israeli-led massacre in the Gaza Strip, and it permanently changed my frame of reference.
The sound of thunder or a door slammed shut can take me from my normal, smiling self into a light-headed, pale-faced, paranoid shadow of myself. The first thunderstorm happened days after we made it back to the United States. It rattled my windows and made me shake like I did in Gaza when the shelling was close by. Once, a storm started during one of my classes and I bolted to the restroom to compose myself and remind myself that I was in a safe place. It is hard to come back to normalcy. It is almost as if normalcy doesn’t exist or cannot exist for people like me, people like those in Gaza who suffered through over 50 days of pure terror. You wonder when it is going to get better and when your mind will finally let you sleep through a thunderstorm.
It’s currently the season of the olive harvest in Palestine. So, of course, the Israeli Jews have taken it upon themselves to carry out campaigns of terror against the Palestinian farmers picking their crops by beating them and destroying their fields.
The incidents from this week:
Israeli settlers on Monday chopped down dozens of olive trees on Palestinian agricultural lands in the Nablus district, an official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that settlers from Tuffah chopped down around 100 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the village of Yasuf.
Settlers also destroyed trees in Burin and and Awarta, Daghlas said.
Dozens of Israeli settlers protected by soldiers burned and damaged olive trees on Palestinian lands in the Yasuf village near Salfit in the northern West Bank on Friday, the second suck attack in the last two days.
Settlers from the Kfar Tappuah settlement set fire to and damaged several olive trees on Friday while Israeli soldiers in the area stood by watching, eyewitnesses said.
The lands that were attacked reportedly belonged to Nafiz and Issam Ali Mansour.
Issam Abu Bakr, mayor of Salfit, warned farmers against the “settlers’ attacks” and recommended residents work in groups in the lands close to nearby Jewish-only settlements.
A large group of Israeli settlers on Saturday morning violently beat a young Palestinian woman while she was picking olives from trees in an orchard in the village of Yasuf in the Salfit district in the central West Bank, a Palestinian official said.
The assault is the third such attack on Palestinian olive pickers in three days, creating concern about unchecked settler violence as the olive harvest kicks off across the West Bank.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that 25-year-old Alaa Fathi Atiyani and her children were picking olives in a field in the al-Masamic area outside of Yasuf village at the time of the alleged assault.
He said that ten settlers arrived from the nearby Kfar Tappuah settlement and assaulted Atiyani, beating her “brutally.”
These incidents are unfortunately not at all uncommon. Palestinian farmers face a constant threat of violence from the Israeli Jews, both settler and soldier collaborating to make their lives miserable.
What makes this ironic is that “making the desert bloom” is one of the cornerstones of Israeli Jewish propaganda. They would have us believe that Palestine was a desert before the European Jews arrived in our land, that they have created an environmentalist paradise.
This is a lie not only because Palestinian farmers have been tilling the land for centuries but also because their own actions demonstrate the disrespect with which they view the land, its wildlife, and its native people.
The violent attacks from this week are a demonstration of the absolutely untenable situation that is thrust upon Palestinians. Israeli Jews make their lives a living hell. Remember these indignities and crimes when Palestinians choose to respond in self-defense.
It’s okay, I’m happy to explain to you, although brace yourself because this will be pretty long. Also just to let you know I do have a FAQ page which does address what has happened, and it also contains link to websites, and also contains a list of books and movies which you can watch and read in order to get a better understanding of what is happening in Palestine.
There is a large important pretext before 1948 which helps establish context, and I was going to skip that but I just realised how important those events are as they are the lead up to what happened in 1948. You can read more about them in detail if you’d like, I’ll just provide basic info. So Zionist Jews started immigrating to Palestine as early as the late 1800s. At the time, the Ottomans ruled, of course. As soon as the British took over in 1918 and established their mandate in Palestine, the Zionists started emigrating en masse. This was also the result of the signing of the Balfour Declaration which recognised and supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Palestinians who lived there largely objected to this, and viewed mass Zionist immigration as a “threat” (and they weren’t wrong). This led to revolts in the 1930s. The Zionists also had their own militia groups known as the Haganah, Stern, Lehi etc which went onto form the IDF in 1948.
The Zionists wanted to get the British out of Palestine so they can create their own state and they did this using terror tactics like bombings, hanging British soldiers etc. They also had another plan. They wanted to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its Arab inhabitants to make way for new Jewish immigrants, and to create a Jewish majority where one hadn’t existed before. In 1947, the British began thinking about withdrawal, and hence took the issue to the United Nations where a partition plan was drawn up. This partition plan partitioned 52% of the land to Jews and 49% to the Arabs, even though Jews were a minority at the time. The Palestinians rejected because of course you’d reject when more than half of your land is offered to foreigners.
This led to the Zionist militias attacking the Arab militias but also Palestinian civilians in aim to ethnically cleanse them. This went from November 1947 until May 1948 when the Zionist militias defeated the Arab militias and the state of Israel was declared on 14 May, 1948. This became known as the Nakba, or “catastrophe”. During those short months, many atrocities were committed such as the Deir Yassin Massacre, and this was the beginning of the refugees fleeing. Anyway, shortly after that, surrounding Arab armies intervened but their attempt was very futile at best. However, Jordan managed to take the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took Gaza. The refugees were declared “absentees” and were not allowed to return. If they attempted to, they were most often than not shot at the border for being “infiltrators”.
It wasn’t peace and quiet from 1948 until 1967 as some people would have you believe. From 1948 until 1966, Israeli Jews lived with full rights and security in their new state which as Israel, Palestinian citizens of Israel which became “Arab Israelis” (to anyone, please never refer to them as that. It’s something that is state enforced, and they don’t identify as that) were under martial law so basically the same military occupation Palestinians in the West Bank are subjected to. There were also the massacres of Palestinians in Rafah and Khan Younis in 1956 by Israel. This was at a time when Egypt controlled Gaza, mind you.
Skip to 1967. Israel fought in what they call the six-day war and defeated the Arab countries it fought which led it to occupy the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. Once Israel had occupied these territories, it started building Israeli settlements, planting Jewish settlers, the lot. That’s where and when the situation had gotten worse than it had been before. 1967 also saw the reunification of Jerusalem, however the statuses of East and West Jerusalem remained, Israel had annexed East Jerusalem as part of its state and Jews started living there again. Israel had already begun its ethnic cleansing process in Jerusalem, which it is still doing to this day. Many Palestinians are under risk of eviction, so that the city can have as little Arabs as possible. This is all part of Israel’s ‘Judaisation’ process.
Palestinian land started shrinking more and more, Palestinian houses were getting demolished, Palestinians were getting killed etc and the Palestinians thought it was time to resist. Although, Palestinians began resisting beforehand, and this is also what led to the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1964, and these groups began taking resistance into their own hands, however I’ll expand on that a little later because it’s going to be relevant to what I’m talking about. Anyway Palestinians began resisting as civilians, as people, rather than as something like a militia group so they began organising themselves and this is what led to the first intifada.
The first intifada just led to a mass amount of deaths amongst Palestinians. However, it did push the US and Israel into negotiations with the PLO. The Oslo Accords were signed as some kind of ~peace process~. The Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin was hailed as a “hero” although he really wasn’t for many reasons. The Oslo Accords led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority. It did not liberate the Palestinians however. The PA had some control over how things were run, however that control wasn’t much. The PA are also largely under Israeli control, in the sense that they answer to Israel, and are Israel’s stooges when it comes to the occupation. The Oslo Accords also led to the division of the West Bank into three areas. Area A which is under full Palestinian control, Area B which is under joint Palestinian-Israeli control and Area C which is under full Israel control.
Fast forward to the second intifada. It began in 2000 and went until about 2005. The second intifada saw the deaths of around 4, 000 Palestinians. Here is where the relevancy of the Palestinian resistance groups come in. The PLO was created in 1964 as a result of the Israeli occupation (1948), and Hamas was created in 1984 also a result of the Israeli occupation. While such groups had been conducting operations otherwise also known as armed resistance inside Israel before the second intifada, a lot of these operations pushed Israel to take “security measures” including building the apartheid wall, besieging Gaza, and generally just increasing physical force in the West Bank. We’re talking collective punishment, on a larger scale.
After the second intifada, there have been several attempts at “peace negotiations” however in that same time, Israel has increased its settlements and settlers, its land grab, killed more Palestinians and has made life worse for them. To this day, such policy continues.
Tldr; Palestinians are kicked out, killed, dehumanised, killed again, and if they try to resist, they get punished. All in the meanwhile while having land stolen.
So 2014, and where are we at? Israel just killed yet again another 2, 000 people in Gaza and destroyed its infrastructure. Gaza is still besieged. It let the killers of a brutal death of a Palestinian boy called Muhammed Abu Khadeir get away. Palestinians in the West Bank are still getting killed by the IOF. The West Bank is still occupied. Palestinians still have no rights, and even where they do, they’re discriminated against. There is a severe lack of adequate supplies in certain places We’re nowhere near peace OR justice and Mahmoud Abbas is still the leader of the Palestinian authority.
There is honestly so much more, but I tried to explain it as best as I could.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
You can find more resources in my #reference tag, #books tag and even #to read tag. Here are a few links to get you started:
Reading recommendations (list compiled by Palfest)