This quick Q&A has been written in response to the outrageous lies of the Zionists and the abject failure of most of the so-called free press, especially since so few available introductory resources are worth reading. The questions are typical of what Zionists say and are based on a series of discussions and debates in the last few weeks.
Q. Israel didn’t want this war but has been forced to go into Gaza to confront terrorists who want to destroy Israel
This makes it sound like Israel is the victim rather than the aggressor, occupier, invader (initiator of violence, breaker of peace deals, violator of ceasefire agreements, ignorer of UN resolutions etc.) and that the Palestinians are somehow picking on Israel.
This often comes from not accepting two points:
- Israel occupies Palestine
- Resistance to occupation, aggression and invasion is always legitimate
The Israeli occupation of Palestine is the longest military occupation in modern history – 66 years of injustice. The Palestinians became refugees in their own land after Israel was formed in 1948 in a frenzy of ethnic cleansing and terrorism known as the Nakba (catastrophe). Palestinians were uprooted to make way for a Jewish state. As Israeli historian Benny Morris relates:
“A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on”.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth with a total area of 365 km2, a population of over 1.7 million and eight over-crowded, under-resourced refugee camps. Its economy is at a standstill, unemployment sky high, half of its children malnourished and people suffering from disease without access to adequate medical care. They depend on Israel for supplies to power their water and basic sanitation. Sewage overflows and over 90% of the water is undrinkable. In one simple example of how powerless Palestinians are, Israel admitted to calculating the number of calories Palestinians would need to avoid mass malnutrition under its blockade of Gaza. The documents use the chilling phrase ‘minimal subsistence’. Another is Israel admitting to incredible racism by giving Ethiopian Jews forced sterilisations without their consent and knowledge. Another even more outrageous example is that Swedish newspaper Aftonbladetexposed the fact thatIsrael harvests the organs of prisoners and may even have kidnapped and murdered some for that very purpose. After all that, why would anyone be surprised that Palestinians want to see an end to Israel? In any case, the people of Gaza are in no position to threaten Israel’s existence. It can manage a resistance at best.
Zionists complain about how the Palestinians choose to resist but it is important that we only discuss methods of resistance (bombs, rockets, bullets, stones etc.) once we have answered if the Palestinians have a right to resist in the first place. If they do have a right to resist then and only then we can discuss what means they have available to them.
Anyone with a heart would agree that people have a right to resist occupation, aggression and invasion. This right is enshrined in every set of laws ever made. No one would accept the same situation of occupation without the right of resistance for themselves. They would always want the right to fight back and nations regularly honour those who resisted aggression in the past. Look at how the Israelis continue to venerate the Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organisation) that fought in the Warsaw ghetto against the Nazis. The Palestinians are simply resisting occupation, aggression and invasion, which is always legitimate.
As a final point, it is ludicrous to suggest that Israel has been forced. Haven’t you realised by now that no one forces Israel to do anything?
Q. There is no occupation! Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. They shot thousands of rockets at us. If they had just left us alone there would have been peace.
No occupation? So why do the UN , UK, EU and global aid agencies still describe it as Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT)? It doesn’t matter how much clever legal language you use, Gaza and the West Bank are occupied by Israel. Everyone knows that even if the media neglects to mention it. Anyone who examines the control Israel exerts on Palestine will understand that Hamas has no sovereignty that is worth calling them a government or a ruling authority and will never receive it in any plan adopted by the quartet (UN, US, Russia and EU).
Israel did withdraw from Gaza in 2005 in the Hitnatkut (disengagement)but it did so having built a huge wall around it to seal it off from the world. The withdrawal did not free Gaza. It turned it into the world’s largest open-air prison  . The people of Gaza are trapped between Israel, Egypt and the sea without control of their borders, airspace, imports, exports, water, medical, fuel or energy supply and with nowhere to run to.
Even David Cameron stated in 2010:
“Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp…People in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison”.
The withdrawal meant Gaza would become a prison that Israel could bomb without any fear of hitting any Israel citizens. It also meant Palestinian groups like Hamas and Fatah could be played off against each other, as they would have to compete to look after the prison on behalf of the Israelis.
Israel has not left Gaza alone since then. It continued to bomb it, assassinate targets with drones and kidnap children so why should the Palestinians not continue to resist? The people of Gaza have also been under siege/blockade since 2007 as a punishment for electing Hamas.
Q. Hamas are terrorists that want the destruction of Israel. Do you deny that?
Before we decide if anyone is a terrorist we first have to define terrorism. I’m sure any half-decent definition means we can also define Israel and the USA as terrorist states. Hamas has certainly designated been as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, EU, Canada and Japan but this kind of designation is always politically motivated. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The UK and US labeled Mandela a terrorist and look at how strange that seems now. Western states label some groups freedom fighters and later label the same groups terrorists when it suits their cause, with the Taliban an obvious case-in-point.
Hamas was born out of principled resistance. It doesn’t hide it. In fact, its very name signifies that. HAMAS is actually an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya (Movement of Islamic Resistance) and it makes no apologies for it but the continuing mention of Hamas is a red herring. Israel wants to argue it is fighting Hamas when in fact it is fighting the Palestinian people as a whole. It focuses on demonising Hamas because it’s a lot easier to sell on Fox News than saying it wants to punish a civilian population. It is important to note that there are many other resistance groups in occupied Palestine firing rockets including Islamic Jihad. Israel knows full well it is not fighting Hamas alone; it is fighting the resistance.
Is it right to call resistance to occupation terrorism? Were the founding fathers terrorists when they led the American Revolution? The Declaration of Independence of 1776 makes it perfectly clear what the US was fighting for:
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States”.
How exactly is that any different to how the Palestinians view the Israelis? If the Founding Fathers were Palestinians then wouldn’t they be firing rockets too?
Hamas is often blamed for seeking the destruction of Israel. Its charter contains the following quote from Hassan al-Banna:
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it”
Is there something wrong with this belief? Hamas are certainly not alone in agreeing with that quote. All the other resistance groups as well as Islamic organisation around the world believe it too but this does not mean Israel seek peace and Hamas do not. The truth is that neither side wants peace on terms dictated by the other side.
Western audiences don’t understand Hamas at all. Israeli propaganda means most probably picture Hamas as a bunch of bloodthirsty mindless radicals and wonder how it is possible for a bunch of militants to be democratically elected and in charge of Gaza. This is particularly true in the US for older, better-educated and more politically active citizens.
The fact is that Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections but never wanted to be in power. It wanted to be the main opposition so it could account Fatah but Fatah deliberately lost those elections to place Hamas in a position where it would have to deal with the realities of administration. The International Crisis Group predicted before the elections that a Hamas victory would set the stage for ‘conditioning’ it, recommending that the Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia) “encourage the Islamists to focus on day-to-day matters and facilitate a process of potential political integration and gradual military decommissioning”. The outgoing Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia of Fatah, even conceded defeat before the electoral count had ended saying:
“This is the choice of the people. It should be respected”
Hamas are also accused of taking over Gaza by force in 2007. The truth is that Fatah worked in conjunction with Israel to give that impression. It attacked individual Hamas members repeatedly, gave numerous signals that it ended to strike Hamas first including evacuating their own families, provoked Hamas to rise in anticipation and then its leadership including the head of the Preventive Security Force, Mohammed Dahlan escaped to the West Bank before fighting began in earnest. Hamas thought they were fighting to defend themselves and were caught by surprise not realising the whole thing was a set-up to make it look like they were seeking power through violence. The world’s media has reported the lie that Hamas took over Gaza by force ever since.
Q. What do you expect Israel to do? No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.
Obama’s quote that no country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders is funny if you wonder why he can’t apply that to the drone attacks he has authorised in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc.
Also let me ask this: would any country on Earth tolerate the theft of their land, murder of their families, terrorism and regular ‘incursions’ (i.e. invasion) from an occupying force, their daily humiliation and brutalization from an apartheid state that controls their lives, kidnaps their children, tortures prisoners with impunity, starves and impoverishes them, destroys their olive groves and livelihoods, denies them medical treatment, restricts their movement? Would you? Clearly not.
The rockets are a response to Israel’s continuing oppression and 66 years of settler-colonialism. Why would anyone with any humanity deny the people of Gaza the right to resist?
Q. So why did Hamas reject the ceasefire then? They could have ended all of this ages ago
The ceasefire deal was brokered between Egypt and Israel. The Palestinians were not part of the consultations and Hamas said it only heard the details through the media. The deal that was presented to Hamas would not lift the siege, allow the crossings to open for aid to come in. It gave the Palestinians nothing, not even a restatement of the ceasefire conditions from 2012 agreement which Israel never honoured. It put Hamas in an impossible position. Accept and let the Palestinian people down and let all those deaths be in vain to be left in an even weaker position or refuse and let Israel spin this to the world that Hamas are bloodthirsty and not interested in peace.
Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada explained about the ceasefire offer:
“But it would mean no change to the reality for 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza living under crushing siege. In the immediate period, the bogus “ceasefire” initiative gives Israel the opportunity to spin headlines in its direction – claiming that Hamas are being irrational and unreasonable “terrorists.” Already, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “If Hamas rejects the ceasefire, we will have international legitimization to restore the needed quiet”.
Hamas do want a ceasefire which is expected to be in place imminently particularly as the Arab rulers don’t want the conflict to be ongoing during the ‘Eid ul-Fitr celebrations that mark the end of Ramadhan in case they face awkward public scrutiny for not intervening.
Khaled Meshaal of Hamas laid out his own side’s conditions for ceasefire as long as it doesn’t prejudice the demands of the Palestinians and made a speech on the 24th July, 2014 stating:
“We are not closing the door to a humanitarian truce … that would not manoeuvre around demands of the resistance”.
Q. Hamas can call for ceasefire but Israel has to destroy those Hamas rockets that are aimed indiscriminately at population centres with civilians. That is completely illegal under international law and can even be described as war crimes.
I have to ask if it is some kind of joke to mention international law when Israel is in violation of so many UN resolutions. Does Israel really care about international law when it targets civilians, builds more settlements, deliberately infects prisoners before release, tortures children or uses artillery shells with white phosphorus and flechette shells to hit residential areas in Gaza?
Gaza’s 83 UNRWA shelters are currently holding over 160,000 displaced people as a result of Israel’s aggression. Isn’t that aiming indiscriminately at population centres with civilians?
In military terms the Qassam rockets are primitive. They’re usually made from metal pipes made from scavenged steel, cast iron or aluminum, spot welded and fueled by a mixture of sugar and fertilizer. The fuel mixture is probably more combustible than the 8 to 18 pounds of explosive in the warhead, which leads to frequent injuries when producing propellant in makeshift workshops. Many of them land in Gaza. They cannot be compared to the IDF munitions much of which are sold to Israel by the UK. The ones that reach Israel aren’t likely to cause any damage, even if they avoid being shot down by the Iron Dome.
So, how can it be right that firing Qassam rockets is described as war crimes but Israel’s invasion of Gaza is described as possibly amounting to prohibited collective punishment? Anyone who makes a distinction that unfair and one-sided surely loses all credibility.
Arguments based on international law don’t work with me anyhow as I’m a Muslim and only refer to shari’ah.
Q. Israel has a right to self-defense
No, it doesn’t for two reasons.
The first is that an occupying force cannot claim the right to self-defense against people it occupies. It gave up that right when it occupied them. Noam Chomsky explained this back in 2004:
“When Israel, in the occupied territories now, claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population that they’re crushing… You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying somebody else’s land. It’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense”.
Think about this point carefully. As an analogy, wouldn’t it be perverse for a rapist to claim a right to self-defence if the victim fought back?
Why is the rapist not accounted for the initial aggression? Why do we focus on the response? Israel has thousands of troops outside of its borders for the sole purpose of occupying land and is the aggressor forcing people to live under the worst kind of tyranny in an apartheid state. The people of Gaza have every right to resist and Israel has absolutely no right (moral, legal or otherwise) to claim they are defending themselves.
Israel has tried to justify its attack on Gaza by twisting both the letter and the spirit of international law. Noura Erakat also explained this eloquently when she wrote:
“Israel’s ability to frame its assault against territory it occupies as a right of self-defense turns international law on its head. A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is “foreign” and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law”.
The second reason is that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist in the first place from an Islamic perspective so Muslims wouldn’t agree with its right to self-defence in any case.
Q. The rapist analogy is disgusting. This is a war between Israel and Hamas
No, it is not. Firstly, this is not a war. This is not a fair fight between two states. This is the most one-sided military conflict in the world.
It is best described as an occupying force punishing the civilians it occupies. Their occupiers allow them an internal police force but they have no army, navy or air force.
To illustrate just how one-sided this is Israel is amongst the most powerful and advanced military forces in the world. It is nuclear armed with an estimated $15 billion annual defence budget, 176,500 active frontline troops, 445,000 reserve troops, 3,870 tanks, 9,436 armoured fighting vehicles, 486 attack aircraft including F15, F15E and F16 fighters, 48 attack helicopters, 706 self-propelled guns, unmanned drones and 14 submarines.
Americans supporting Israel against Gaza often conveniently forget that the Second Amendment to their own constitution upholds “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” for their self-defence. Israel denies the occupied the right to keep and bear arms because it doesn’t want resistance. It wants to make this as one-sided as possible.
Secondly, this is not Israel versus Hamas. This is the Israeli state versus the civilians of Gaza. Hamas may be the democratically elected party in Gaza but no one watching the footage can possibly believe that the Israelis are only engaging Hamas. These are war crimes (or collective punishment if you’re scared of upsetting Israel like the UN and Human Rights Watch) with civilians in the front line.
Q. Israel has given fair warning unlike Hamas with its rockets. No one else would do that? They can leave if they don’t like it. Furthermore, the IDF deserve a Noble Peace Prize for showing ‘unimaginable restraint’.
Israel is not giving fair warning if it blocks escape. Those with dual nationality had a short window to escape but many of them are still trapped in Gaza as the borders were sealed. A common analogy would be to describe Operation Protective Edge as shooting fish in a barrel or slaughter in an abattoir. The Israeli army dropped 120 bombs weighing one tonne each on Shujaya on one day alone. This is an organised military massacre of civilians.
Phoning a hospital to promise to bomb them later that day and order staff to evacuate is of no use if those patients mobile enough to leave have nowhere else to go but into the streets were snipers can hit them or other buildings where they’ll be buried under rubble from airstrikes. The same goes for phoning a home with a warning or dropping leaflets. Israel also uses a controversial tactic called roof knocking where a dummy bomb hits a home scant minutes or seconds before a real bomb lands. The warning is therefore actually a tactic of modern psychological warfare. It is designed to cause mass panic and fear to break the will of innocent civilians.
This helps us to see the lie of the IDF earning the ‘admiration of the international community’ for its caution and showing ‘unimaginable restraint’ as Israeli ambassador to the U.S, Ron Dermer said recently.
Anyway, no one takes Noble Peace prizes seriously since Obama won one in 2009 while bombing half the world, spying on the other half and keeping Guantanamo Bay open. To compound matters his acceptance speech was actually a stern defence of war. Its credibility was already shot to pieces when it awarded Nobel Peace prizes to Henry Kissinger in 1973, in the wake of his war crimes against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and then to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994 for their efforts to bring peace to the Holy Land. If the IDF win it this year then we might as well give up political satire.
Q. Hamas are terrorists and cowards hiding behind civilians with weapons in schools, ambulances and hospitals. They want us to kill those civilians to win propaganda points. That’s why they use human shields.
This makes no sense. What possible justification could there be for Israel to bomb and shoot innocents even if it were true that Hamas hid amongst civilians?
The logic is twisted, as if accusing Hamas of hiding behind civilians justifies murdering and injuring those civilians in the thousands. Richard Seymour pointed out the sickening hypocrisy:
“They hid at the El-Wafa hospital. They hid at the Al-Aqsa hospital. They hid at the beach, where children played football. They hid at the yard of 75-year-old Muhammad Hamad. They hid among the residential quarters of Shujaya. They hid in the neighbourhoods of Zaytoun and Toffah. They hid in Rafah and Khan Younis. They hid in the home of the Qassan family. They hid in the home of the poet, Othman Hussein. They hid in the village of Khuzaa. They hid in the thousands of houses damaged or destroyed. They hid in 84 schools and 23 medical facilities. They hid in a cafe, where Gazans were watching the World Cup. They hid in the ambulances trying to retrieve the injured. They hid themselves in 24 corpses, buried under rubble. They hid themselves in a young woman in pink household slippers, sprawled on the pavement, taken down while fleeing. They hid themselves in two brothers, eight and four, lying in the intensive burn care unit in Al-Shifa. They hid themselves in the little boy whose parts were carried away by his father in a plastic shopping bag. They hid themselves in the “incomparable chaos of bodies” arriving at Gaza hospitals. They hid themselves in an elderly woman, lying in a pool of blood on a stone floor. Hamas, they tell us, is cowardly and cynical”.
Where is the evidence of these human shields? At best we have a call from Hamas for people to stand firm against the bombing of their own homes but no evidence that Hamas are forcing people to do so in any way, shape or form. Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor contradicted the Israeli position:
“But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu’s. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields”.
The opposite is true. The only evidence we have is of Israel using Palestinian civilians as human shields.
There hasn’t been any proof of any weapons being found where the airstrikes took place whether in homes, schools, masjids, hospitals or other buildings. Ironically the only places weapons have been found to date, in two UNRWA schools, were not targets of bombing.
However, if we agree that people have a right to resist occupation they will need weapons to do so. They won’t leave them in plain sight. They’ll hide them. That’s what occupied people do. The slur that Palestinians hide them in places to get their own people killed is a really nasty Zionist attempt to dehumanise the enemy.
The real question should be why Israel is occupying and bombing them. One answer from Daniel Levy, the Middle East director of the European Council for Foreign Relations is that:
“It is the same goal as 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defence, and 2008-09’s Operation Cast Lead: to contain Hamas but not obliterate it. Israel knows that eliminating Hamas, even if possible, could leave a vacuum filled by organisations more militant, more radical and less palatable. “It’s a fine calibration between weakening Hamas enough and not weakening it too much. Netanyahu still wants Hamas as the address in Gaza, otherwise there will be chaos and mayhem…”.
I believe a ceasefire will soon be in place and Israel will push for a buffer zone around Gaza to contain it further. This will also enable it to extract the huge amount of natural gas off the Gaza coast worth $4 billion. This might provide some insight into the name of the Israeli operation. Tzuk Eitan can be translated as ‘protective edge’ but more accurately as ‘firm cliff’ perhaps indicating a buffer zone Israel seeks from the offensive that means it can move freely around Gaza to access the gas.
The rockets fired from Gaza are merely an excuse. Israel moved into Gaza to break the spirit of the people and their legitimate resistance to occupation. Israel wants to punish the people for fighting back and build a buffer between it and Gaza. Nothing less.
Q. Israel didn’t want this fight. Hamas started this by murdering those three teenagers.
The deaths of those three teenagers were used as a pretext for aggression as exposed by J.J. Goldberg:
“The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations…For public consumption, the official word was that Israel was “acting on the assumption that they’re alive.” It was, simply put, a lie…Nor was that the only fib. It was clear from the beginning that the kidnappers weren’t acting on orders from Hamas leadership in Gaza or Damascus. Hamas’ Hebron branch — more a crime family than a clandestine organization — had a history of acting without the leaders’ knowledge, sometimes against their interests. Yet Netanyahu repeatedly insisted Hamas was responsible for the crime and would pay for it”.
This gave Israel the green light and the public support to hit Hamas hard. This was especially true when the Israeli public learnt it had been lied to about the deaths of the teenagers. Israeli forces swept up hundreds in raids across the West Bank and whipped up hysteria that led to brutality from the Israeli public such as the horrific execution of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, kidnapped, beaten and burned to death having been doused with gasoline and then forced to ingest it.
The escalation in violence that has taken place since are due in large part to Israel’s attempts to provoke this fight. What often escapes mention is that Hamas formed a ‘national consensus’ government with Fatah in early June. The New York Times reported:
“Seeing a region swept by popular protests against leaders who couldn’t provide for their citizens’ basic needs, Hamas opted to give up official control of Gaza rather than risk being overthrown. Despite having won the last elections, in 2006, Hamas decided to transfer formal authority to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. That decision led to a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on terms set almost entirely by the P.L.O. chairman and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas”.
Israel set out to deliberately obstruct the implementation of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement by blocking the two key benefits of the deal; namely keeping the borders closed and preventing Gaza’s 43,000 civil servants to receive their salaries.
Hamas were always unlikely perpetrators as they knew an act like this kidnapping would destroy the reconciliation agreement with Abbas. Blaming Hamas for the kidnapping and carrying out the subsequent IDF invasion plainly serves the Israeli objectives of preventing a unity government, further isolating Gaza and stealing more land in the West Bank.
Q. Are you saying you don’t want peace?
Peace on whose terms? Peace while Palestinians exist in poverty in a prison without control of their affairs? Peace while Israel still stands on stolen land while refugees have no right to return to their homes? Peace without justice for all the terror and suffering? That’s not peace.
Israel often calls for peace then Israeli settlers steal some more land then Israel calls for peace again before an Israeli ‘incursion’ then Israel calls for peace before the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shoots a pregnant women in the belly then Israel calls for peace then Israel steals some more land. Israel consistently violates ceasefires it agrees to, provokes a response then cries that it is under fire.
We understand the tactic now. It works for naïve Western audiences but doesn’t fool anyone else. Israel is not interested in peace. It wants everything it can get.
Q. What do you want?
I want justice. I want security. I want peace. I want dignity. I want honour. I want al-Aqsa free of Israeli violation.
I don’t want Western states dictating the roadmap for peace. I want the Muslims to unite and liberate the land.
I don’t want to boycott Israel. I want Israel invaded.
I don’t want a two-state solution. I want Israel gone.
I don’t want to oppress the innocent. I want the Jews to live with the Muslims under the shari’ah.
I don’t want a free Palestine. I want the Khilafah.
By Hassan Chowdhury
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent that of the Siyasah Press editorial board.