Whats going on in Gaza?
By Jude Batayneh
"This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!... If solid, uninterrupted Arab occupation for nearly 1,300 years does not make a country 'Arab', what does?" (King Abdullah I)
List of facts:
- Palestinians live their lives with no nation and no citizenship. Their power over their own lives is stripped from them.
- The state of Israel, a product of European Jewish colonialism, came into existence through the 1947-49 war.
- It was created on 78% of the land previously called Palestine, which had been populated by (10%) Christian, (4%) Jewish, and (86%) Muslim Arabs living in peace.
- 750,000 Palestinian Arabs were violently pushed out in order to create this Jewish state.
- They have never been allowed to return to their homes
- In 1967, Israel simply conquered the final 22% of the set "Palestine". Since then, Palestinian lived under occupation.
- Despite there being a Palestinian autonomous entity which was able to continue with public functions (i.e. health care, education, policing…), there is no doubt that Israel maintained overall power.
- International law states that an occupying power has the responsibility of the civilians that are under its control. It seems that either Israel did not understand this requirement or simply preferred to ignore it.
- In an effort to guarantee that civilians do not suffer as they did in World War II, several principles were instituted in what is known as the Geneva Conventions.
- One of the world's leading violators of these set principles would be Israel which on a regular basis imprison possibly innocent civilians (children as well), confiscate privately owned land and abuse inhabitants in numerous ways.
- Palestinians are not allowed to leave the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, nor enter it, without permission from Israel. It is not uncommon for Israel to refuse.
- There is a small, but nevertheless determined minority of Israelis who happen to oppose the occupation.
- They are known as "internationals" and often perform peaceful marches and try to help Palestinians with harvesting their crops and also live in refugee camps in an effort to prevent shelling with the hope that their presence will save Palestinians from the invasion.
- These individuals are often beaten and sometimes shot to death.
- Some Israeli soldiers are refusing to serve in the West Bank or Gaza, stating: “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.”
- During the summer of 2005, Israel “disengaged” from the Gaza Strip,
- In reality, though, Israel’s occupation of Gaza did not end.
- Israel controlled all exits and entrances, its air space, and its sea ports.
- In 2006, in what was universally hailed as a free, democratic election, members of Hamas, a Palestinian political party with a militant wing, were elected to a majority of the seats in the Palestinian legislature and a unity government was formed.
- Israel was not happy with this result and worked to undermine it.
- Western powers declared a boycott of the Palestinian Authority as long as Hamas was included in the government.
- In 2007, this pressure caused the government to splinter, with Hamas in charge in Gaza, and Fatah (the party that had been in power for decades) in control in the West Bank.
- During this time, Israel continued to invade Gaza, killing over 713 Gazans in 2007 and 2008 (prior to the launch of their major assault on Dec 27, 2008).
- Resistance groups in Gaza attempted to violently resist these attacks, killing 8 of the invading soldiers.
- Some Palestinian fighters also launched rockets. Often described in the media as a significant threat to Israeli security, most of these rockets are small, homemade projectiles that normally kill no one and only rarely cause damage. Since 2001 these have killed a total of 18 Israelis.
- On June 19, 2008 a 6-month truce went into effect between Palestinian fighters in Gaza and Israel.
- The terms of the truce were that Israel stop all invasions into Gaza, reduce its blockade on Gaza, and that the Palestinians stop all rocket attacks on Israel.
- Israel never fulfilled its obligation to ease the siege of Gaza, which had created, according to numerous relief organizations, “catastrophic” humanitarian conditions.
- Christian Aid stated that Israel was using food and medicine as weapons against Gaza's 1.5 million men, women, and children.
- Five months later, on November 4th, the truce ended when Israel invaded Gaza, killing 6 Palestinians.
- Only after this did Hamas resume rocket fire.
- On December 27th, Israel began a premeditated air, land, and sea assault on Gaza.
- In three weeks Israeli forces killed 1,380 Palestinians – 431 of them children – and injured 5,380.
- Palestinians killed 9 Israelis during this time. Israeli strikes damaged and destroyed huge numbers of homes, causing a third of all Gazans to be displaced at some point during the assault.
- 35-60% of the agriculture industry was damaged, electricity is still only intermittently available to most in Gaza, and the water network sustained major damage as well.
- After ignoring calls for a ceasefire for 3 weeks, Israel finally declared what it called a “unilateral ceasefire” on January 18th.
- Palestinian factions called a ceasefire as well a few hours later.
- It was widely reported by the media that this ceasefire was first breached by Palestinians on Jan 27th.
- In reality, however, Israel had already violated the ceasefire at least seven times, including killing two farmers – the first only a few hours after the ceasefire went into effect – and shooting a child.
- American taxpayers give Israel $7 million per day – far more than to all the starving countries of Africa put together.
- Americans are therefore considered by much of the world as responsible for Israeli violations of human rights, creating escalating enmity toward our country.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The facts shown above show us a lot of important facts surrounding the Gaza/Israeli conflict. However, it is very important to question the possible biased approaches and limitations or uncertainties in the information that we have. First of all, the information gathered can be mostly backed up by other sources considering that they are mainly stating facts and not opinion. Some of them were gathered from a website directed to Americans. This website's aim is to help Americans understand the "truth", a very important point to take into consideration. Also, since it wants to keep them interested rather than offended, it was not too offensive against either side.
The same can be said for another one of the sources which shows a speech written by the late King Abdullah the first. It is a message of truth for the Americans, written specifically to show that it is unbiased and it simply states facts. He says "If you suggest that I am biased, I invite you to read any sound history of the period and verify the facts."
Another source we have is a documentary. The film was made by a dance group from Palestine itself. Of course, from that fact alone we have reason to believe that there are a lot of biased viewpoints and facts. However, the film does not focus on portraying Palestinians as victims, but rather as people with the very same needs and interests, but are simply stuck within a box. It is a creative piece of art that portrays the matter in little words; mainly in movement and images. This in my belief is the least biased form of fact sharing.
A woman runs across a lamp and rubs it. A genie comes out and offers her one wish, anything she wants. She says "I wish I can find a man that doesn't lie, cheat, drink, play mind games, is a good family man, works hard, and knows the value of a woman!" The genie shakes his head and says "I'm sorry, but I don't believe there can be such a person in the male species". Disappointed, she tries to think of something more worthwhile and says "I wish there will be lasting peace in the Palestinian territory". The genie looks at her for a minute then says "I think I know a guy…"
One of the most vital problems that have to be dealt with would probably be the ignorance of most of the Western world and its vulnerability to the media. Clearly the solution to that is more effort on the media world needs to be put by the Arabs. King Abdullah the first tells us "There are many reasons for this. You have many millions of Jewish citizens interested in this question. They are highly vocal and wise in the ways of publicity. There are few Arab citizens in America, and we are as yet unskilled in the technique of modern propaganda." As they say "if you can't beat them, join them"; seeing as defense and protests fail to have much of an effect, in order to get through effectively, we need to play with their game, the media. That would definitely be an important first step as it could change the minds of many citizens and seeing the most Western countries, including the USA which is one of the main countries in question, are democratic, the opinion of the nation is vital in the policy of the country.
"Israel actions will only breed extremism for generations to come, and extremism is a threat to all of us, regardless of our nationality, religion or political beliefs… We urge you, to give a voice to those who have been silenced… for the sake of Gaza, for the sake of its children and for the sake of humanity please do not be silent" (Queen Rania)
Another clear problem would be the significant differentiation appearing which is in the race and religious beliefs of the people. It seems that the liberation of the African Americans did not properly teach its lesson. Unless it becomes a universal understanding that we are all equal, peace shall never be within grasp. It is not only wrong to assume that an entire religion or race is wrong based on what a minority of them does, but it is insane. A mistake that gets no one anywhere. This message needs to be delivered across. Muslims cannot be accused of being extremists and closed minded when it is the others who won't give them a chance to express their views.
In return, we as Arabs should be able to see the difference between Israeli politics and some Israeli civilians. As the well-known and respected peaceful leader Gandhi said, an eye for an eye leaves the world blind. We cannot hate or discriminate against them for simply carrying a certain nationality. As we read in the facts above, a small minority risked their lives for the sake of fighting for what they believed was right, risked their lives to protect many Palestinian children.
It cannot be said that the Palestinians that are residing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have any of the luxuries that the rest of us take for granted almost every day. They live in a cruel and abnormal, rather inhuman, limbo. This cannot continue at this state or else an entire nation, if not two, will be destroyed. The whole basis of this would be the fact that the Jews faced similar treatment during World War II, and found refugee in the small and resistant country of Palestine. "And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. "We have hurt these people terribly," cries the West to the East. "Won’t you please take care of them for us?""
Faced with this problem, there is possibly a way out.
That would be giving the Israeli people themselves the opportunity to choose where they want to go. It seems unlikely that they would’ve wanted little Palestine had it not been the only option. A simple poll or survey is in order. Once that is done, the results should be peacefully discussed (as if such a concept exists in politics) in the United Nations. From there, we can liberate Palestine from the invasion of Israel, seeing as the land is not rightfully theirs. How can we persuade them of such? Well, considering this path was actually taken, the world would have reached a mature stage where logic is finally an element in dealing with one nation and another, rather then the constant play in arms race and propaganda.
- McDowall, David. "A Synopsis of the Current Situation in Israel/Palestine". If Americans Knew. <>
- "Understanding the Crisis in Gaza" If Americans Knew. February 19 2009. <>
- Emotional Rescue. Waldmann, Helena. Majari, Fareed C. Film. El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe. 2009.
- Williams, Gillian. "Gaza homework." Jude Batayneh. 2/10/2009 7:39 am.