Today I read through a list of names, ages and circumstances. It was the Palestinians killed by Israel in its latest attack on Gaza. What we call ‘casualties’ are named here as ‘martyrs’.
The link came via social media. I judge social media links by the credibility of the source, and the content of the material. This link came via a trusted source; and its detail looked a lot like truth. I read on.
Although stomach turning, it felt like it would be a betrayal of the children of Gaza not to read through to the end. With every name and age recorded, I thought of my own children at that age, or of an aunty or other relative of the same generation as those killed. The post is heralded with the statement ‘Because they are people, not numbers’. This crucial fact is actively obscured by the monstering of Palestinians in Israel and much of the West.
Three years ago, I reached the appalling conclusion that Israel does not want peace. The obstructionist recalcitrance of the state in the face of any and every potential solution is rehearsed and successful. Since 1947 Israel has yielded nothing but the Sinai (over 40 years ago) and withdrawal from Gaza in 2005: and still points to these as evidence that Israel does indeed seek a resolution. Yet Gaza remains an ‘open-air prison’ and much of the Sinai remains a lawless no-go zone. Egypt is second only to Israel in its receipt of US ‘military aid’ – money and equipment for which to kill and torture people – Egypt gets US$2 billion per year to Israel’s $3 billion plus. This largely explains the geo-political status of the Sinai; its terrain explains the rest. The Sinai is not evidence of an Israel yearning for peace and resolution.
Meanwhile, the hideous and illegal separation wall marches over Palestinian villages and farmland and the Israeli military continue to bulldoze Palestinian homes in both east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Both areas are internationally recognised as the location for a reinstated Palestine. There is no indication that Israel will ever conform to international law; and ample counter-evidence. Galetz (Army Radio) refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, staking a chosen-people Old Testament-based claim to the land, which in any case is occupied by Israeli extremists who commandeer scarce resources, like water, backed by the force of Israeli troops.
It is impossible to run through all the arguments and evidence I found of Israeli expansionism and exceptionalism and the ‘Holocaust Holocaust Holocaust’ refrain captured so tellingly by Howard Jacobson in his award-winning novel The Finkler Question . Instead I am reproducing here two of the most appalling extracts I unearthed after a Palestinian-Australian friend told me that Israel fines a soldier 100 shekels (AUS$25) for killing a Palestinian child. I remember dropping my head and taking a deep breath before I could re-establish eye contact. He said ‘and they call us the barbarians’. It was such a small detail, yet so shockingly amoral, as to hit harder than the footage of bombs and planes. I was reminded of that conversation, over five years ago now, as I read through the lists and lists of dead in Gaza today. The work of Guardian reporter Chris Urquart and the tireless Electronic Intifada verify his account. Links below.
After Moshe returned to his paratroop unit, he said there were several incidents when children and teenagers were killed after bullets aimed at their legs hit their chests. The attitude was, he said, “so kids got killed. For a soldier it means nothing. An officer can get a 100 or 200 shekel [£12.50-£25] fine for such a thing.”
– Urquhart, C. (2005) Israeli Soldiers Tell of Indiscriminate Killings by Army and a Culture of Impunity: Whistleblowers’ testimony shows desire for revenge on Palestinians. The Guardian, 06 September, 2005: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/sep/06/israel
“So usually an officer gets fined 100 shekels for killing a child…”
– Kole (2004) Interview: What the IDF is doing in Nablus. Live from Palestine, 7 September 2004, Nablus, occupied Palestine: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3078.shtml