In Solidarity with Gaza

Ranjini Basu

In 1994, Yasser Arafat
dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize to the children of Palestine ‘who have been
promised freedom, safety and security in a homeland free of the threats of
external occupation or internal exploitation’[i]. It was seen as the start of
the peace process between Palestine and Israel, amidst all the UN resolutions
and international accords. Since then a lot of water has flown down the river

Over the years, the peace process has fallen apart.
As this article is written, the Israel Defence Force’s ongoing Operation
Protective Edge – which has claimed over 1,000 lives, including scores of
children – continues to shatter the promise of a safe homeland to the children
of Palestine. Indeed, statistics show that the median age of Gaza today is 18;
and that on an average a Palestinian child is being killed every two hours
since the recent operation commenced. These numbers also show that every
seven-year-old child in the Gaza strip has lived their his/her entire life
under siege. In this short span, they have witnessed much horror, and are
currently bearing witness to the third major humanitarian catastrophe of their
little lives. The images of dead, bleeding children and howling parents in the
past days have been bloodcurdling and terrifying.

The Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, present in
Gaza and part of the humanitarian efforts penned the following words about the
horrific sights he has witnessed in past weeks: ‘scores and carloads with the maimed,
torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all
ages, all civilians, all innocent.’ In an interview to Democracy Now’s Amy
Goodman, he said: “Half of the 1,232 Gazans injured by July 14 were women and
children: 36 children and 24 women had been killed out of a total of 170. This
tells you that these attacks are not targeting the militarists but the whole
population, in order to intimidate them and to force them to give up their
resistance. Israel is doing their utmost to kill them and to make their life as
miserable as possible through these seven years of siege.”[ii]

That the Israeli missiles are continuing to
target hospitals, schools and refugee camps makes it amply clear that the
target of the Netanyahu regime is not the ‘Hamas terrorists’. Hollow as these official
claims are, statements by prominent Israeli members of parliament have only shown
the inhumane face of this illegal and unethical operation – an Israeli member
of parliament recently called for the ‘killing the mothers of the

The Gazan writer Hedaya Shamun wrote, “An entire
army directs its spines at Gaza: at her hair, at her chest, and even at her
face. An entire army, fully equipped, fights a Palestinian child in Gaza, whose
ancestors lost their land, their country, and their memories. An entire army
wants to remove the offspring of those who were killed, and whose land was

The current Israeli attacks was reportedly
sparked by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youth by unknown and
unestablished miscreants. The incident was used by the Zionist forces to incite
a blatant onslaught on the people of Gaza, blaming Hamas for the killings.
However no such link is established, in fact, official sources have Israel have
even gone on record stating that the Hamas was not behind the kidnappings. The
same forces, however, continue to justify their attacks on civilians saying
that the Hamas is using them as human shields. Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East
editor for the BBC, reporting from Gaza said that there was no evidence to show
that Hamas was using Palestinians as human shields. By now it is evident that these
are all part of Israeli propaganda, emanating from a well-oiled PR machinery
that seeks to rationalise these war crimes.

Israel’s claims of self defence also falls flat
on grounds of the Occupation laws and the ascribed UN Charters. Israel’s
actions have violated fundamental human rights and humanitarian law. The
Article 51 of the UN Charter specifically points that Israel cannot justify its
attack on Palestinian civilians based upon the right to self-defence. Therefore
its actions are an outright breach of international laws and should be booked
under the same. The United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Gaza
which calls for ‘immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout
the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ and ‘an end on attacks on all civilians’
was adopted by 17 countries, including the BRIC nations. The US was the only
country to vote against the resolution. The resolution strongly denounces the
war crimes committed by Israel and out rightly rejects its claims of ‘self defence’.

The Palestine –Israel conflict can be traced
back to the World War II, where the decadent colonial powers divided Palestine
into two states: Palestine and Israel. Since then, there have been numerous
armistices, wars and intifidas. Israel grew into an imperialist power occupying
regions of Palestine, and other neighbouring nations of Egypt, Syria, Jordan
and Lebanon. The Palestinians were concentrated into the West 
Bank and the Gaza Strip, resulting in large
number sof Palestinian Arab refugees, all ousted forcibly from their homeland.
The US backed Israel in all its imperialistic endeavours. Debunking all the international
treatises, Israel has constructed an illegal wall barrier, closing all the
entry points to the Palestinian territories turning the regions into a virtual
prison. Palestine has been shrunk to 12 per cent of its original historical

Ilan Pappe, the Israeli Marxist historian calls
Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip as an incremental genocide which has
been on since 2009 [vi]. He points that the idea of Israel is to ghettoize the geopolitically
important Gaza and obliterate the Palestinians living in it. It is also a way
to derail the process of coming together of the Hamas and the Fateh under a
Unity government. Robert Fisk in his unique satirical way writes that the
current attack on Gaza is a replay of the 2009 massacre.[vii]

It is a shame that amidst all the international
uproar against the Israeli genocide in Gaza, the Modi government decided to
keep mum stating ‘both the parties as good friends’. But as a nation can we forget
that the cause of Palestine’s freedom was something which was recognised
through our own anti colonial freedom movement. Ignorant and ill-informed posts
and tweets are doing the rounds on social networks these days, including
‘popular writers’ such as Chetan Bhagat, who have been quick to denounce the
entire population of Gaza as ‘terrorists’.

However, with the UNHRC resolution, the
propaganda of the Hindutva forces of claiming ‘Palestinian civilians as
terrorists’ stands discarded. Under no pretext can militaristic attacks on
defenceless people living under siege can be justified.

This complacent attitude of the Indian
government and the rising endorsement of Israel’s war crimes among sections of
its people have to be seen as a rightward shift and a growing closeness to the
US. In recent years India has become a prime importer of Israeli weapons.

The Palestine issue can only be resolved through
recognising it as an independent free state, and its right to self
determination. The charade of false ceasefires and Israel’s impunity has to
end. Progressive people have to come on to the streets to put pressure on their
governments to create international will to reconcile the Palestinian issue.

As poet Rafeef Ziadah wrote “We Palestinians
wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir.” We salute the
undying unwavering struggle of the people of Gaza and stand in solidarity with
the cause of Palestine’s freedom!


Full text of the Nobel Peace Prize Lecture is available at:
Full text of the letter and interview given by Dr. Gilbert is available at:
The translated piece written by Hedaya Shamun can be read at:
For a historical account of the Palestine- Israel conflict refer to : June
1967 War
Ranjini Basu is a research scholar at TISS, Mumbai.