Apr 30, 2018
For five weeks, Palestinians have protested every Friday at the fence separating Gaza from Israel. And for five weeks Israel has responded with deadly force. At least 45 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,000 have been wounded. Israel has suffered no casualties.
The militant Islamist group Hamas has organized these demonstrations. Over the years, Hamas has organized rocket attacks and suicide bombings within Israel, and Israel has repeatedly bombed and invaded Gaza seeking to kill Hamas leaders – in the process killing thousands of Palestinian civilians. Hamas has run Gaza since it was elected in 2006. In that time, Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority that controls the West Bank, the other major area of Palestinian settlement, have all increasingly strangled Gaza.
Whatever the motives of Hamas in calling for these demonstrations, they have clearly found an echo in the population. Gazans are trapped in an open-air prison, unable to leave their narrow strip of land caught between Israel and Egypt. There are almost no jobs so people rely on food aid. The water is undrinkable and many die every day from a lack of basic medical resources. Most people get only four hours of electricity a day. An Al-Jazeera reporter explained that “people have lost their fear” because “their situation is so miserable in Gaza.”
These protests are organized to culminate on May 15, known as Nakba Day, marking the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the creation of Israel. The majority of Gazans are the descendants of these refugees. The protestors are demanding “the right of return” to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.
The people who founded Israel said that they were creating a refuge for the Jews after six million were killed in the Holocaust. This might seem reasonable. But by trying to create a state that would be for Jews alone, allied with the imperialist powers that dominate the region, they recreated the problem they were trying to escape. The Israelis may have become the guards, using lethal force to keep unarmed civilians locked in, but they are still caught in the prison camp of nationalism.