“But Fadi, is there anywhere safe to go?”
“In fact, no”.
This is what the BBC journalist asked Fadi Abu Shammalah, an Outreach Associate of Just Vision, after an Israeli strike hit very close to Fadi’s home in Gaza, interrupting their interview.
Fadi’s response, as he tries to calm down his children, is a painful summary of what options people in Gaza have when Israeli bombings begin, captured on live radio.
As I write this, Israeli attacks have already killed 140 Palestinians, including 39 children. A strike was reported in a refugee camp, killing eight children.
Residential buildings are being bombed, press offices, commercial objects.
The horrors of bombings the results of which are indiscriminate, no matter how the Israeli state officials might describe them, are being captured all over social media.
If this is self-defence of any country, you should question it.
If this is self-defence of an occupying power responding to rockets from a territory it is holding under siege for 14 years, you should also question it.
If this is self-defence of an occupying power responding to rockets from a territory it is holding under siege for 14 years, after raids of Al Aqsa, expulsions of Palestinians from their homes (historically: again), and brutal suppressions of protestors all around historic Palestine, you should most definitely question it.
Let me correct myself: you should condemn it.
This is where you might ask:
But doesn’t Israel have its right to feel safe?
Of course. But let me go deeper: why might it not feel safe?
A hint: when you’re occupying and denying human rights to several million people, they will be resisting.
This is NOT a chicken-or-egg dilemma for you. The direction is very clear here. I have even chosen to talk about that direction in the very first episode in my podcast series on Palestine.
And it is NOT a conflict of “two equals”.
As Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning journalist, reminds us in his article,
The U.S. position is that Israel has the right to self-defense, but the Palestinian people do not. Yet anyone who speaks of the horrors meted out against the overwhelmingly defenseless Palestinians is presented with a demand to denounce the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel. It is an effort to “both sides” what is an asymmetric campaign of terror waged by a nuclear power against a people who have no state, no army, no air force, no navy, and an almost nonexistent civilian infrastructure.
The last time Israel invaded Gaza, in 2014, it killed over 500 children.
Please read that again, slowly.
If you’re interested, you can find documented examples of International Humanitarian Law violations here.
If you had to guess, which one do you think followed:
Military officials and soldiers were prosecuted for this not great – for such a sophisticated army – level of military precision, or was what followed impunity?
I think you know the answer (but you can check it here).
It also answers the question why the International Criminal Court now being able to investigate Israel is such a big deal.
Meanwhile, Gaza is being bombed.
I’d like to encourage you all to raise your voice more loudly this time.