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why i stand with gaza

July 25, 2014

I think it’s hard to deny that this current round of violence between Israel and Hamas began when Israel accused Hamas of abducting and murdering three Israelis in the West Bank and started its crackdown of Hamas. Many were skeptical that Hamas had anything to do with it, and Hamas itself denied any involvement, which has recently been confirmed by an Israeli police spokesman who said that “a lone cell not operating under Hamas leadership was responsible for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens last month.” Nevertheless, Netanyahu was quick to place the blame squarely on Hamas, saying, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”

So despite Hamas’ denial of involvement, and little-to-no proof that they were involved, Israel initiated a crackdown of Hamas anyway, with Netanyahu declaring that they “knew ‘for a fact’ that the kidnapping was Hamas’ work.” Numerous arrests of Hamas members took place (including members released during the 2011 prisoner exchange), and both commercial and pedestrian crossings into Gaza were closed. As the crackdowns were intensifying, Hamas began firing homemade rockets into Israel in retaliation. Israel responded in turn with 6 airstrikes in Gaza, followed by the shooting death of 15 year-old Mohammad Dudin by the IDF during a search of his home for three other teens in the West Bank, further intensifying outrage.

The violence escalated from there, with more rocket fire from Hamas, more Israeli airstrikes, and the murder of a 16 year-old Palestinian boy, who was found “burned alive in a Jerusalem forest, the day after the burial of the three Israeli teens,” presumably in revenge. Cue more rocket fire from Hamas (which the US condemned), hundreds of airstrikes by the IDF (which the US said nothing about, of course), and an eventual ground invasion of Gaza by the IDF, culminating thus far in 850 Palestinian casualties — mostly civilians according to the UN — and 5,200 injured (again mostly civilians).

In addition to instigating this round of violence, Israel claims it’s not intentionally targeting civilians despite the vast majority of casualties being noncombatants, that they’re warning people to leave before attacks come and blaming Hamas for hiding behind civilians. But Gaza in an open-air prison, and there’s nowhere for people to go. Israel has bombed almost every part of Gaza, including beaches, hospitals, mosques, sports arenas, fishing boats, and schools, many without any warning at all, like the UN Relief and Works Agency school that was converted into a make-shift shelter for Palestinian families. They’re basically shooting fish in a barrel with Gaza. Yes, there have been Israeli casualties as well, approximately 35 soldiers and 3 civilians (one of which was delivering provisions to soldiers), which are just as tragic as those killed by Israeli forces. But I have a hard time feeling sympathy for Israel’s position.

What’s happening, and has been happening, to the people of Gaza is a horrible crime—it has to be condemned as well as discouraged, especially by the US, Israel’s closest ally. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen; and I can only conclude from the recent unanimous Senate vote in support of Israel that our politicians are so blinded by money, political ambition, and/or a clearly one-sided narrative that not one is willing to stand up and say this is wrong and that we need to immediately withdraw our monetary, diplomatic, and military support until Israel ceases this carnage, halts its continued settlement expansions, and ends its apartheid-style treatment of Palestinians.

That, plus the fact that Israel is essentially an occupying power, is why I stand with the people of Gaza and the West Bank. We need to put pressure on Congress and the President to actively put pressure on Israel to loosen its chokehold of Gaza and the West Bank and negotiate a one-state solution, seeing as how I don’t think a two-state solution will work given the history and logic of settler states. Our fervent support of Israel and its policies (including monetary and military support), as well as our fairly aggressive foreign policy in the region over the past 60+ years is part of the problem, and I think both of those things need to change for there to be any hope of a peaceful end to these conflicts in the foreseeable future.

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