Two weeks into the current Israeli assault on Gaza, known as Operation Protective Edge, and it seems much of Israel’s rationale has been recycled.
The war on Gaza, one aspect of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, has been reduced to catchy, convincing one-liners that are played on repeat as Israel brutally attacks for the third time in six years.
Earlier this week, Israeli forces targeted the third hospital since the ground invasion began almost a week ago, another war crime to add to the growing list according to human rights groups.
Meanwhile, media reports have described Sunday’s shelling of the neighbourhood of Shujaiya as so severe that ambulances couldn’t access the streets where the dead lay and the injured waited for assistance.
As you might expect, to match the might of this ground offensive, Israel has launched a media campaign in an attempt to justify the atrocities of the past few weeks.
You need look no further than mainstream media for the many examples of disingenuous coverage allowing Israel’s narrative to dominate. But the pervasiveness of social media has proven useful, giving rise to alternative (news) sources and different voices.
Certainly this is as much a war of words and wits as it is of weapons.
So while the lean, mean Israeli propaganda machine continues to churn out slogans, the humanising of Palestinians living this occupation allows us to debunk the Israeli myths and slowly, but surely, piece the puzzle together.
‘Israel has the right to self-defence’
This is Israel’s first line of PR defence for every unlawful action it takes.
But a cursory glance beyond such a simplistic slogan shows that Israel has existed many, many years before Hamas was ever even created, and will continue to do so probably long after Hamas is gone.
More than 1.5 million Palestinians are crammed into 140 square miles. Even the simplest “Humans of Gaza” type portrayal would show the majority are refugees living in dire poverty. Life under Israel’s effective control means there is little food, water, electricity, medical supplies and worst of all – there is no way out.
Israel controls the airspace, waters, and borders of Gaza (with the exception of Rafah, the border with Egypt), dictating what and who and leaves, giving it almost total control over the economy.
Serious double standards are at play when decades of Israeli policies of displacement, repression and violence towards Palestinians are omitted in everyday coverage of the conflict.
Israel is Goliath – militarily and economically superior. Its claims of being on the defensive simply don’t hold while it purposely and successfully continues subjugating an entire people and crippling their infrastructure.
Don’t Palestinians also have a right to self-defence? Or at least to exist – albeit just barely?
Israel’s right to exist is not in question. It never could have been.
Can Israel exist beyond its self-prescribed, discriminatory disclaimer of ‘state for Jews only’? (Tell me again how Israel is meant to be the “only democracy in the Middle East”.)
‘Hamas is a terrorist organisation’
Labelling Hamas as ‘terrorist’ is far too easy. It’s simply a narrow 30-second sound byte.
Such a deflective device absolves us of our duty to dig a little deeper and humanise the “other”.
But if ever a cliché were to apply, it would be here. One man’s terrorist is another man's freedom fighter – context is everything.
Hamas is a symptom, not cause, of Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation. Love or hate them, Hamas was democratically elected by a population besieged and desperate – who saw defiance as the only way forward after more than 45 years of degradation, humiliation and collective punishment.
The only purpose this ‘terrorist’ rhetoric serves is to break the will of the Palestinians, taking away the legitimacy of their right to resistance and struggle against oppression.
We should not forget that Nelson Mandela was once branded a ‘terrorist’. Thirty years later, Mandela’s resistance to apartheid South Africa has been judged kindly by history.
So let's not get distracted by the symptoms in this case – Hamas – and look at the cause – Israel (which, incidentally, has also been accused of state terrorism on many occasions).
If Hamas stopped the rockets, there would be no war; If Hamas stopped using people as human shields, there would be no war; … and other variations on the theme 'Hamas is to blame'
Israel has repeatedly broken truces in the lead up to each of the past attacks on Gaza, before rockets came into the picture.
Was Hamas hiding under the sand when the four children were killed on the beach, or in the hospitals that Israel targeted? For all the precision weaponry the fourth most powerful army in the world has, it seems to be missing its targets quite a bit.
Israel continues to point fingers and stir justifications despite no evidence that Hamas uses the civilian population as human shields. Just last month, a report by the United Nations accused Israeli forces of using Palestinian children as human shields.
If Hamas ever were to do this, Israel is obliged under international law as the occupying power to help civilians leave.
It’s now open season in Gaza, with close to 600 dead, the majority women and children, and more than 3,600 injured.
Israel’s assault has already left 15,000 homeless and more than a million innocent civilians with no sanitary water, sewage services and electricity, according to the UN.
Palestinians have nowhere to run due to Israel’s ongoing blockade, and nowhere to hide from Israel’s most current invasion.
The international community is against Israel
The greatest trick Israel ever pulled is convincing the world it was a victim in this so-called “conflict”.
This “conflict” is a one-sided war by one of the world’s most advanced armies on the innocent civilians of Gaza.
This “conflict” has seen Israel indiscriminately drop over 1,500 tonnes of bombs on a densely populated, open-air prison. And it is happening with the full support of United States weaponry and money.
This is not between two warring parties on an equal level playing field. Civilian casualties, injuries, the destruction of infrastructure, the imbalance in power and the overall control are all telling.
The use of vague, watered down language in media reports only obscures the underlying causes of the conflict. Media reports that describe this as “another cycle of violence” risk (wrongly) implying that both sides have equal power and are equally responsible for the current situation.
This is an occupation under any definition of international law. This is between Occupier and Occupied, Coloniser and Colonised, Oppressor and Oppressed.
If you still don’t know the story of David and Goliath – now is the time.
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