Death has permeated into every pore of Gaza. Eman Basher, an inhabitant of the Palestinian enclave, says, "We spend the day not believing we’re still alive and in the night we wait for our death." The subjugation of the colonized population’s life to the power of death is a core feature of Zionist strategy. This has again been made clear in the recent bombing campaigns which have killed 230 Palestinians over 11 days, including 65 children and 39 women. Nearly 450 buildings in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged and more than 52,000 people have fled their homes.
Israel tries to spread pure terror among the Palestinian population through the targeting of children. On May 15, 2021, Hamza – a 14-year-old Palestinian child – committed suicide by throwing himself from the 8th floor. Hamza had lost his entire family in the recent Israeli assaults on Gaza. In 2009, his little brother was killed by an Israeli missile while playing football. In the 2012, his older brother was killed. In 2014, his father was killed. Due to this severe trauma, Hamza became very close to his mother, his last surviving family member, who was killed in the current Israeli bombardments.
On May 18, 2021, the settler state bombed the office of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a charity in Gaza that provides free medical care for Palestinian children in need. On the same day, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) confirmed that 11 of all the children killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza were participating in its psycho-social program aimed at helping them deal with trauma.
"We are devastated to learn that 11 children we were helping with trauma were bombarded while they were at home and thought they were safe," said NRC’s Secretary General Jan Egeland. "They are now gone, killed with their families, buried with their dreams and the nightmares that haunted them. We call on Israel to stop this madness: children must be protected. Their homes must not be targets. Schools must not be targets. Spare these children and their families. Stop bombing them now."
Despite the barefaced barbarism of Israel in Gaza, many Zionist ideologues continue to justify the massacre in the name of Israel’s right to self-defense. On top of being illegal, this discourse about self-defense ignores the glaring presence of a colonial context. Israel is a technologically advanced, economically strong, US-supported, nuclear-armed regional superpower, perennially brutalizing Palestinians to expand its project of settler-colonialism.
Western media outlets raise their eyebrows when Hamas’ crude rockets thud into the Negev or Judean desert, or are intercepted by the "Iron dome" missile defense system, forgetting that these miserable weapons – which fly erratically and scare their adversaries, but kill very few, destroy very little – pose no genuine "security threat" to Israel. Nevertheless, the narrative of Israeli vulnerability has to be endlessly pushed if the macabre genocide of Palestinians is to continue.
In the words of the poet Remi Kanazi, "Israel never ‘defends itself’. Israel has bombed hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, shelters, UN buildings, media outlets, residential housing, electrical plants, kids playing on the beach & families in their sleep. It’s cold, premeditated violence, none of it self defense". This time, too, Israel has bombed civilian infrastructures – Gaza’s only Coronavirus testing lab, cafes, residential buildings, schools, mosques, health facilities, and buildings of news organizations.
In a Tel Aviv briefing held for a group of foreign ambassadors on May 19, 2021, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "There are only two ways that you can deal with them [Hamas]…You can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say we don’t rule out anything." On the same day, Netanyahu, shortly after speaking with US President Joe Biden, declared that he is "determined to continue in this operation until its objective is achieved – to bring back the quiet and security to…citizens of Israel."
Netanyahu’s desensitized statements are aiding the ideological entrenchment of colonialism within the Israeli populace. Mobs of settlers, with the approval and protection of Israeli police, have conducted pogroms against Palestinian citizens of Israel. From Gaza to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem to the West Bank and Lydd near Tel Aviv, Israel is escalating its brutal attacks against all Palestinians. However, Palestinians have not remained quiet and have initiated what many have labeled as the "Third Intifada".
According to Ramzy Baroud, "a strong Palestinian voice is now piercing through the international silence, compelling the world to hear a single chant for freedom… Netanyahu may have hoped to use [the ethnic cleansing of] Sheikh Jarrah as a way to mobilize his right-wing constituency, while intending to form an emergency government or increase his chances of winning a fifth election. His rash behavior, initially compelled by entirely selfish reasons, has ignited a popular rebellion among Palestinians, exposing Israel for the violent, racist and apartheid state it is and always has been." Hope never dies in Palestine.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at yanisiqbal@.com. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey and several countries of Latin America.