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People power: The people against Israel’s occupation and genocide 

March 21, 2024 at 8:00 am

People in the Hands off Rafah manifestation participate in a protest procession through the city center of Rotterdam, Netherlands against Israel’s actions in Gaza, on February 25, 2024. [Mouneb Taim – Anadolu Agency]

On Sunday 25 February, 2024, Dyab Abou Jahjah was in his home with his family in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, when his doorbell rang. He opened the door to find three men standing at the doorstep. They were plain clothes police officers.

The short interview started and finished on Abou Jahjah’s doorstep as he did not invite the officers into his home since they did not have a warrant. They told him they had come to ask him to remove a post on X, formerly Twitter, talking about a Dutch citizens volunteering in the Israeli army – the IDF – and taking part in the “genocide in Gaza”. The officers, somewhat embarrassed, said they were acting upon a request from the Dutch authorities and the situation was not really clear to them, Abou Jahjah told MEMO.

The post was actually first published on a website belonging to the March 30 Movement (30-3) which was only a couple of months old. The movement’s website was registered under Abou Jahjah’s name as its co-founder.

30-3 Movement is a Gaza-centred grassroots anti-war organisation, which is  trying to launch legal actions against individuals from across Europe who are fighting for Israel in Gza and committing “war crimes as we speak” Abou Jahjah explained.

Though no further action has been taken against him since that visit, his lawyer has said the visit may have been a warning that something more serious is being “cooked up against him.”

Feeling empowered by the public support 30-3 has been getting and overwhelmed by his own enthusiasm to do something about Gaza, Abou Jahjah and his colleagues at the movement are planning their next “big” move: to contest European parliamentary and Brussels local elections which are being held in June and October respectively. The idea is to make Gaza a central theme in any political debate and elections whenever possible.

Neither Abu Jahjah nor other 30-3 Movement members are running for office but others “sympathising with the cause” are and they will have “our full support”, he explained. Abou Jahjah cites the success of George Galloway in the local elections in the UK, adding that the same experience can be “repeated at the heart of Europe.”

Read: Palestine taking centre stage in local elections is a warning to Israel and its friends

The fact that Gaza is a top theme in local and European elections is a big achievement for both the 30-3 Movement and other grassroots organisations across Europe who, for months now, have been mobilising against the Israeli army, the state of Israel and against their own governments who have been supporting Israel as it kills more Palestinians every day.

This is people power in action manifesting itself as strongly as possible to say no to genocide.

The movement, named after Palestinian Land Day, is devoted to one thing: prosecuting Dutch and Belgian citizens who are volunteering to fight within the ranks of the Israeli occupation army as it continues to humiliate, kill, maim and starve the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who are now on the brink of starvation and famine.

The 30-3 Movement appeared to have crossed a line by bringing to the surface the topic of mercenaries fighting for Israel which is hardly talked about by mainstream media and prosecute them for their actions in Gaza.

Israel continues its attacks on Gaza during Ramadan - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Israel continues its attacks on Gaza during Ramadan – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The world has heard many stories about mercenaries in Libya and Syria (2011), Mali (2021) Sudan and Ukraine (2022) but not Israel. After my article about the issue was published by MEMO last month, many people contacted me asking for more details.

The movement’s Dutch lawyer, Aroon Raza, told MEMO that he has already filed cases against at least two dozen Dutch citizens that have been identified, beyond reasonable doubt, fighting in Gaza and “committing crimes against humanity.” Furthermore Raza, who is working pro bono, is also filing cases with the International Criminal Court (ICC). He stressed the fact that the organisation is working day and night to “identify individuals” from across the EU in order to file charges against them in their own countries.

The movement has already scored its first big media hit by filing a criminal case against Israeli President, Issac Herzog, and calling for his arrest when he arrived in the Netherlands on 10 March to inaugurate a Holocaust Museum honouring the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany while his army is doing the same thing to the Palestinians in Gaza. No one was expecting “his arrest”, Raza said, but it is important that the 30-3 Movement says that we “are here and we mean business.” The usually stone-faced president is already the subject of other criminal complaints in Switzerland.

Read: Senator Chuck Schumer exposed just how fragile Israel is

Where such cases will end is hard to say but Raza appears hopeful that some of them will “end positively” as he puts it and the “very fact they have been filed” is an enormous boost to Palestine and its people.

Like the 30-3 Movement, many other grassroots organisations have sprung up all over the world for the purpose of helping end the genocide in Gaza and, in the process, putting the Palestinian issue centre stage in major countries including the US, UK and Spain after it had been neglected for so long. Most such organisations have been spontaneously demonstrating against the war and many of them are consolidating their activities into some legal setups to pursue the occupation state for the crimes it has been committing not only, now in Gaza, but in the whole of Palestine since Israel was created over seven decades ago.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.