The history of the Palestinian cause since the 1948 Nakba has been linked to a lengthy list of legal and moral violations against innocent people; a lot of their blood has been spilt. This has produced arguably the greatest level of human suffering of modern times, to which the international powers have contributed by harnessing the law in favour of rogue terrorist gangs. Having such powers behind them, those gangs were able to establish a country upon the remnants of a peaceful population of an ancient civilisation reflected in their land, identity and culture. The rest of the indigenous people were driven off the land at gunpoint, in a stark example of what we now call ethnic cleansing.
This is the first time in modern politics that we have ever witnessed such a “surrogate” state, which uprooted the existing population and has sought ever since to eradicate their existence and history. Israel has lived up to its stated intent to be an “outpost of [Western] civilisation against barbarism” having been planted in a region which shares the faiths, language and general culture of the Palestinians.
In order to accomplish the international conspiracy and criminal intent of this “surrogate” state, the process has been carried out regardless of the history and culture of the land in which it was established, against the wishes of the indigenous population it must be said. Since taking over 78 per cent of historic Palestine, the occupation state has shredded the remaining land, “in a way that prevents the achievement of its unity, and the construction of its independent political entity.”
Israel was built upon the terrorism of Zionist militias who held no red lines as sacred and proceeded to kill, displace and plunder the people and their resources. For the past 70 years, Israeli governments have continued in the same vein, preventing — by force when deemed necessary — the Palestinians from leading a peaceful and dignified life in their own land. In doing so, the occupation authorities have trampled on international laws and conventions, claiming an unprecedented degree of exceptionalism that allows Israel to act with impunity. Its war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to go unpunished; in this, its international backers in Washington, London and other Western capitals are complicit.
The establishment of the State of Israel was accompanied by systematic massacres in order to empty the land of its existing inhabitants. The massacre of Balad Al-Shaykh in 1948, for example, saw 600 Palestinians killed, most of them women and children; their corpses were found in their homes. The well-known massacre of Deir Yassin, also in 1948, reflected the extent to which the sanctity of human life was disregarded by the Zionist terrorists, and demonstrated their criminality and inherent hatred for the local people. Estimates differ of the number of casualties, but the International Red Cross reported that 150 corpses were found in one cistern alone, apart from the bodies on the streets, some of which had been badly mutilated. As was the case across Palestine, when the people were killed or driven out of their homes, whole villages were then demolished and wiped off the map.
Massacres by Israeli troops continued throughout 1948 and beyond. The village of Abu Shusha was “depopulated” the day before Israel was created, while Tantura was attacked by the nascent Israel Defence Forces (IDF) 10 days later, with dozens of the local people killed and hundreds more forced out of their homes. Similar attacks on Palestinians took place in Qabiya in 1953, and Qalqilya, Kafr Qasim and Khan Yunus in 1956, to name but a few.
The whole history of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is filled with massacres of the Palestinian people. In part, this is because the state ideology, Zionism, requires as much of the land to be taken as possible, with as few Arabs on it as possible, so that Jewish settlers can be moved in to colonise the occupied territories. Those Palestinians who stayed behind and refused to move off their land have faced systematic attacks over the decades, by the forces of the state as well as illegal settlers.
In 1990, a Jewish group calling itself the Temple Mount Faithful went to lay a cornerstone in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, where the group hopes one day to build a temple on the ruins of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Protected — as such incursions continue to be — by Israeli security forces, the settlers were met by Palestinian worshippers, 20 of whom were killed in the confrontation, with 150 more wounded. The Ibrahimi Mosque was attacked by a lone gunman wearing his IDF uniform in February 1994; settler Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Palestinians as they prayed in the mosque and injured dozens more. In 2002, the IDF surrounded the Jenin Refugee Camp before attacking the inhabitants. More than 50 Palestinians were killed, along with a number of Israel soldiers. Early claims put the number of those killed in the hundreds.
These massacres are well known, but are not the only Israeli crimes. What has been called “Jewish terrorism” was killing Palestinians (and British Mandate personnel, by the way) in the decade before the establishment of the state of Israel. Terrorist groups such as the Irgun and Stern Gang are infamous for their crimes. An estimated 7,000 Palestinians are believed to have been killed by such gangs.
Furthermore, Israel has not been content with attacking and killing Palestinians in the occupied territories alone. Its armed forces and agents have killed Palestinian individuals around the world, and facilitated the massacre of civilians in the Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camps in Beirut in 1982. Up to 3,500 Palestinian women, children and elderly people were slaughtered by a Lebanese Christian militia let into the camps by the IDF. Israeli soldiers actually lit the scene with flares and stood by while the massacre ensued. The victims lay in the streets for several days because the killers closed the entrances of the camps until they finished their crime. As on other occasions, bodies were mutilated and personal belongings were stolen.
The Israeli mindset appears to be one of territorial conquest and bloodlust. The IDF shows no mercy, even when the Palestinians protest against their virtual imprisonment by the occupation. In 1987, when the First Intifada (Uprising) erupted, stone-throwing youths were met with live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets; if caught, they often had their arms and legs broken by the Israeli troops. When the Second Intifada broke out in 2000 in response to Israel’s assassination of key Palestinian individuals and other violations, the occupation security forces shed the blood of more than 4,000 people; a further 38,000 were wounded.
More than 1 million Palestinians were displaced in 1948
Relive the journey of Nakba refugees
The Third Intifada began as a wave of protests by Palestinian youths in response to the criminal acts of the occupation authorities and extremist settler groups, the most notorious of which was the 2015 Duma arson attack against the house of the Dawabsheh family in Nablus. Most of the family were burnt alive, including an 18-month-old baby, Ali. A year earlier, in July 2014, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was burnt alive by Jewish settlers in Jerusalem.
CCTV and the cameras of human rights groups have recorded the cold-blooded killing of young Palestinians on the pretext that they were trying to stab soldiers and police officers. The evidence in many of the cases, though, suggests that these claims were false and the victims were actually unarmed. In one case, the victim was already seriously wounded and motionless on the ground when a soldier approached and shot
him in the head, killing him instantly. The soldier in question served just nine months in prison for manslaughter.
Since 2008, Israel has launched three major military offensives on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing thousands in the process, including hundreds of children. Military incursions occur on a regular basis, often for no reason other than that the IDF can do what it wants to do, when it wants to do it. Israel has also imposed an immoral and illegal siege on Gaza for 12 years, an act of collective punishment that is a crime against humanity. Human rights organisations agree that these are acts of genocide, with whole families wiped out and buried in the rubble of their homes.
Gaza’s infrastructure was already weakened by the siege when the Israeli offensives destroyed much of it altogether. The IDF killing machine did not distinguish between combatants and civilians. The statistics collated by international organisations confirm that the majority of the victims in Israel’s 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 offensives were civilians including elderly people, children and women.
Israel’s contempt for international law and human life has been witnessed again this week, with snipers shooting dead more than 60 Palestinians demonstrating for their legitimate right to return to their land within Israel. Since the Great March of Return protest started last month, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis — many of them shot in the back, hundreds of metres from the border fence and posing no risk to anyone — while thousands more have been wounded, often in life-changing ways.
This lust for killing is appalling, and has been condemned by the international community, although to their shame the US and others have sought to shift the blame onto the Palestinians themselves. The sight of Israeli soldiers and civilians celebrating and cheering whenever another Palestinian fell to the ground mortally wounded is sickening. Such behaviour can only be fuelled by their racism and hatred of all things Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and Christian.
Such is the demonic nature of the Zionist mindset, which rejects the Other, especially when that Other is a Palestinian standing up for his or her rights. The tyranny of the Israeli occupation of Palestine is unacceptable in the 21st Century and should be both condemned and ended by right-minded people the world over.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.