In Part 2 of a two-part article on Palestine, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin looks at the context around Palestinian resistance and the hypocrisy of Western leaders in selectively supporting the right to resist. Part 1 is available here.
“Gaza won’t return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything.”
– Yoav Gallant, Israeli Defence Minister
The Health Ministry in Gaza said yesterday that 2,808 people have been killed and more than 9,700 wounded. These are only the ones we know of – there are likely to be many more buried beneath the rubble in Gaza. MSF doctor Christos Christou reports that, “the situation is horrific and catastrophic. Those hospitals and clinics that have not been evacuated are overwhelmed and are barely functioning. No electricity, no medical supplies. Surgeons in Al-Shifa hospital are now operating without painkillers.”
Even if you didn’t think Palestinians have the right to resist, what has been happening is barbaric. Countless war crimes are being committed. Israel has escalated its assault on Palestinians into what could become an all out genocide.
But of course, it’s not just that. The clock didn’t just start on Saturday October 7th, when Hamas militants and others broke out of Gaza, attacking Israeli settlements and IDF military bases. A 2015 UN report predicted that Gaza could become unlivable by 2020. Three years on, the region is now in its 17th year of siege. Water and electricity were already at a trickle before the Israeli State destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure over the past week. 47% of the population is under the age of 18. Children suffering from cancer have died waiting for an exit permit to leave for treatment which is unavailable in Gaza.
Between the everyday thirst, starvation and lack of healthcare, come the bombings and ground invasions, referred to by Israeli military strategists as “mowing the grass”. These are inflicted every few years. Israel launched major assaults on Gaza in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014, and have gone on to bomb again intermittently in 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
A report from 2021 found that 91% of children were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Others have argued that the situation in Gaza is such that people cannot reach the “post” trauma stage while the root cause of their trauma persists, and that a more fitting term to describe their experience would be “present-traumatic stress disorder”.
None of this seems to matter now Israel’s cheerleaders or to many in the media. People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett was pilloried on RTE’s DriveTime last week for quoting Israeli journalist Gideon Levy’s piece saying that “Israel can’t imprison two million Gazans without paying a cruel price”. Presenter Sarah McInerney accused him of “justifying murder”.
This is not about justifying murder. It is a simple fact, as old as human society, that people under the boot of oppression will resist. They will fight back, and they have every right to do so, using arms if necessary. This is enshrined in the Geneva Convention. More importantly, it is a fact of humanity.
Can the Hungry Go On Hunger Strike?
“Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48”
– Ariel Kallner, Israeli parliamentarian
“Can the hungry go on a hunger strike?” asks Indian author Arundhati Roy. “Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have a right to resist annihilation.”
The simple fact is that the Palestinian have had no audience in the corridors of power for decades now. They had no audience when the Nakba began in 1948 and Israeli paramilitaries killed thousands of Palestinians and forced 750,000 people from their homes. The Nakba never stopped, and Palestinians had no audience for decades as the State of Israel continued its ethnic cleansing and annexation of Palestinian land.
They had no audience when Israel annexed the Palestinian Territories in 1967. Nor when Israel ignored the Oslo Accords which enshrined the Two-State Solution. This was an unjust solution in the first instance, as it copper fastened the loss of 78% of Palestinian land. Now, it has been made a mockery of as Israel continues its expansion.
They had no audience in 2018 during the Great March of Return, when Palestinians peacefully marched to the Gaza border to demand their right to return to their ancestral homes. They will certainly have no audience as Israel cuts the internet in Gaza and prepares to send in troops.
“Save their tongues for last, so we can enjoy his screams, his ears so he can hear his own screams, and his eyes so he can see us smiling.”
– Tsipi Navon, advisor and office manager for Netanyahu’s wife
The United States, the EU and Britain have made a song and dance for over a year and a half about the right of people to resist imperialism, oppression and annexation.
“Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially electricity, are war crimes”, declared Ursula von der Leyen just over a year ago. “Cutting off men, women, children of water, electricity and heating with winter coming – these are acts of pure terror. And we have to call it as such”.
“We rallied the world to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their liberty and their sovereignty with incredible dignity”, said Joe Biden a mere three months ago.
All of this is forgotten now, as the West reiterates Israel’s right to defend its settler-colonial, apartheid, garrison state, arms it to the teeth, and cheers on its genocidal assault on the Palestinians. Palestinians are not asking for tanks, fighter jets or howitzer missiles from the West. They are simply seeking the withdrawal of its support for Israel. Instead, they are expected to lie down and die. They will not do so.
Two-State Fig Leaf
“We will exact a price that will be remembered by them and Israel’s other enemies decades to come.”
– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
For decades now, the West has hidden behind the fig leaf of a Two-State Solution. Utterances like “I support the Two-State Solution”, “I believe in a Two-State Solution”, and “We remain committed to a Two-State Solution”, are repeated like a mantra by the likes of Biden, von der Leyen, Macron, Sunak and Starmer. In Ireland, it’s Varadkar, Martin, and even Sinn Féin – regardless of what some of their membership might think about the contradictions of supporting a United Ireland at home, but partition in Palestine.
The annexation of the vast majority of Palestinian land in favour of the creation of a racist ethnostate was never just or acceptable. But it has been clear for years that this idea is dead in the water – it is simply being used as cover to facilitate Israeli expansion. The mantra is repeated like an article of faith, the funding and the arms keep coming, and more and more Palestinian land is stolen. Not a single eyelid bats among the West’s leaders as this continues, not as Israeli expansion continues, not even when Netanyahu appears at a UN General Assembly with a map of Israel that shows the total erasure of Palestine.
We are now at a crucial juncture, where Israeli leaders are openly declaring their intent to do away with Gaza. Israeli settlers are being armed to the teeth by Minister of National Security Ben Gvir and told to go forth and murder even more Palestinians. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there are mass arrests of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship happening.
This is not business as usual – the everyday displacement, imprisonment, torture and murder of Palestinians. This is the beginning of a genocide, if it is not stopped. The blood on the hands of Western leaders who have facilitated this will not wash off, nor will the stench of shame lift.
Palestine Will Be Free
“We prefer to die and not be humiliated”
– Chants by protesters in Gaza this week
While the West’s leaders cheer on genocide, ordinary people all over the world are standing up in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their heroic resistance. Thousands marched across Ireland’s cities over the past week, defied bans in Germany and France, and marched across the United States. Extraordinary numbers turned out across the Arab world.
It is with these people – and with the Palestinian resistance – that lies the hope that Israel can be forced to back down from its genocidal assault. It is with these people that rests the hope for a liberated Palestine, from the river to the sea. While the world’s leaders stand by – or openly support – Israel’s crimes, we must step up our efforts and force an end to this barbarism.