Unemployment in the Gaza Strip now stands at more than 50 per cent. Enforced joblessness is “as high as 69 per cent in the under-26 age bracket,” according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
These shocking statistics tell you a lot about the truly desperate state of affairs in the coastal enclave. Israel, in alliance with the Egyptian military dictatorship, has kept Gaza under full military siege for 12 years.
Almost 2 million people, mostly refugees, are kept caged there. They are not allowed to return to the homes from which they were expelled by the Zionist militias and later by Israel between 1947 and 1949 – purely and simply because they are not Jewish.
Any attempt by Palestinians to escape these prison walls and return to their ancestral homes is met by Israeli snipers, who gun down even children.
Non-violent resistance or violent resistance, it does not matter – the summary death penalty enacted by the Israeli army is the same. What Israel wants is for Palestinians to disappear from the face of the earth.
Reporting on the issue of Palestine, and advocating for the human rights of Palestinians, often feels like you are drowning in statistics, numbers and factoids. The rate of poverty in Gaza. The vast disparity between Palestinian casualties compared to the number of Israeli casualties during each “round of fighting”.
While it’s important to inform people of about such facts, this data often misses the point; numbers are frequently divorced from the simple reality of the injustices done to the Palestinians.
The cause of Palestine is not a humanitarian issue alone. It is not a “conflict” between two “sides” which needs to be “resolved” by a “settlement”. It’s a massive historical injustice, in which the UK government played a primary role, and which has never ended.
The Zionist project which led to the foundation of Israel, is, and always has been, a settler-colonial project in the classically imperialist mode. It has many similarities with South Africa, Australia and the United States.
It is not some unique, eternal, intractable conflict between “two tribes”. Such mythologies are often based on particular religious interpretations of Biblical texts – but there is no historical substance to them.
The causes of the systemic injustices against the Palestinians are political, historic and ideological, and have their origins in the rooting of the Zionist movement within Palestine by the British Empire.
This is the legacy which makes the continuation of violence in all of historic Palestine inevitable until decolonisation is achieved. The violence of Israeli colonisation means Palestinians will continue to resist it, by any means necessary.
This explains the continued resistance of the Palestinians within the Gaza Strip to Israeli occupation and why they continue to use all methods to fight. Since March last year, the population has heroically engaged in unarmed resistance, week after week, protesting against their dispossession by Israel since 1948 – even though it often means their deaths.
The sheer violence and oppression of the Israeli siege on Gaza means that Palestinian fighters continue to respond with armed resistance measures, including rockets.
The poverty, desperation and unemployment in Gaza is not some inevitable situation somehow endemic to Palestinians, as racists would have it. The conditions there are deliberately manufactured by Israel, with the help of the Egyptian dictatorship.
In a very calculated fashion, Gaza is purposely being kept forever on the brink of devastation and disaster. Medicines are in short supply. Cancer patients often cannot receive the treatments they so desperately need. Power cuts and electricity shortages are endemic. Emergency fuel supplies for hospitals are constantly threatened.
Israel keeps the Gaza Strip as its largest open air prison. It strictly controls the entrances and exits. Airspace and the coasts and seas are often limited, restricted or closed.
Collective punishment is forced upon the civilian population in revenge for armed resistance. Most recently, in June, Israel imposed a period of full maritime closure on Gaza, prohibiting fishermen from making a living entirely.
Even the unjust Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) 25 years ago permitted fishing access up to 20 nautical miles out from Gaza – but Israel has always violated this provision, having never allowed Palestinians beyond 15 nautical miles.
This is a violent, racist regime. If there is to be any hope of peace in historic Palestine, this regime must end. Decolonisation, equality and democracy are the logical solutions to Zionism.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.