Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip has become a normalised regular occurrence. Since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the Israeli government has warned continuously of another large-scale assault to be waged against the enclave, while carrying out regular military incursions which inflict permanent damage upon Gaza and its civilian population, but produce little cause for concern within the international community.
The latter was demonstrated by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, who tweeted a condemnation of “the continuing launching of rockets from Gaza.” The same lack of concern about Israel’s occupation and stranglehold on Gaza was shown by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who limited himself to condemning “in the strongest terms, the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centres.” Israel, we are told, “retaliated” with air strikes. As far as the UN is concerned, blaming Palestinians is the only available strategy.
The UN also embarked on another blatant fabrication regarding the Palestinian Great March of Return protests. According to the international organisation, it is the illegal blockade enforced by Israel which triggered the ongoing protests at the Gaza border. This intentional misrepresentation must be pointed out every time the UN seeks to impose its political aims upon the Palestinians. The Great March of Return was and remains a direct and legitimate call by Palestinians to return to their land in what is now called Israel.
If the UN thinks that the protests are limited to Israel’s actions, it is mistaken. There is an international web of complicity which has provided Israel with the ability to act with impunity to colonise Palestine and murder, maim and otherwise destroy its indigenous population. The UN is at the helm of this complicity and, as evidenced since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, its officials are no longer seeking to conceal or downplay the organisation’s involvement.
If Gaza’s rockets have scared Israelis temporarily, the UN would do well to remember that the Palestinian Nakba is an ongoing violation from which Palestinians have had no respite since it began more than 70 years ago. Israel has just destroyed and partially destroyed over 800 homes in three days, yet the UN is condemning and exaggerating the legitimate self-defence by the Palestinians in Gaza against the Zionist state’s colonial violence.
There will come a time where the UN will be seen universally as the prime facilitator of the ongoing Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Until that happens, the obligation rests upon all of us to point out how the organisation aids Israel by attributing carefully selective narratives to the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. To speak of the illegal Israeli blockade without mentioning the colonial context is nothing but intentional manipulation which perpetuates only the humanitarian aspect of Palestinian suffering.
Guterres and Mladenov are spinning a convenient tale with significant omissions. In its rhetoric and purported concern for human rights, the UN will not distinguish between wilful, premeditated violence by Israel and the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to defend themselves from colonial aggression and domination. It is also worth remembering that throughout Operation Protective Edge, the UN was careful to include Israel’s propaganda about the assault taking place as an act of “self-defence”, even though it cannot be claimed or justified in law by an occupying power. While the implications remain, the UN has now endorsed the rocket rhetoric as the premise to defend Israel’s air strikes as “responses” and, yet again, “self-defence”.
Israel, meanwhile, seems to have settled on a strategy of regular bombing and announced ceasefires over which it has complete control, contrary to what Guterres and Mladenov claim. The UN’s overt support for Israel will not be diminishing any time soon, even as the organisation maintains considerable manipulation of the colonisation process.
With this in mind, it is imperative that the Palestinians refrain from making the UN a perpetual reference point in their struggle, and instead derive the legitimacy of their cause from within themselves. The UN will never uphold the liberation of Palestine, so the people of Palestine must only uphold obligations that emanate from their own ideals and politics.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.