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Israel itself is in Palestinian territory

MALAIKA MAHLATSI | Israel aggression recipe for reciprocal attacks

An aerial view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday.
An aerial view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday.

On October 7, Hamas, a Palestinian liberation movement, launched an unprecedented attack in Israel, killing hundreds of people and capturing many others.

The attack came in the midst of rising tensions between Israel and Palestine. This year has been the deadliest year on record for Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank, an area which, along with Gaza, are known as Palestinian territories.

In reality, Israel itself, a state that was formed in 1948, is in Palestinian territory. The formation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine had been the goal of Zionists since as far back as the 19th century, and was endorsed by the British government.

But it was during World War II that the Jews, fleeing persecution from the Nazi regime(s) in Europe, would set the stage for the establishment of Israel. In 1948, the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, saw the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians.

Thousands of Palestinians lost their land, and their way of life. The Nakba continues to this day. More than half of the Palestinians in the Diaspora are stateless. Since 1948, the UN has been calling upon Israel to facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees and provide reparations, to no avail.

The Israeli apartheid state remains committed to the persecution and further dispossession of Palestinians, and achieves this with the support of the US, the EU and the United Kingdom.

Over the past few days, these trusted allies of Israel have been referring to Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation. This language has been used by some media in SA as well. It is reflective of the disregard for Palestinian lives, which have been under attack from the Israeli apartheid state for decades.

In the Gaza Strip, which Human Rights Watch describes as “the world’s largest open-air prison”, nearly 2-million Palestinians are almost completely cut off from the world and are under siege by Israel and Egypt.

Two-thirds of the population of Gaza is below the age of 25. This generation of Palestinians is faced with a lack of security, work, medical services, adequate food and water, freedom of movement and basic essentials.

The recent attack on the Israeli apartheid state by Hamas is motivated by two interlinked factors. The first, as indicated, is a response to the growing levels of Israeli aggression that have seen escalating violence in Palestinian territories.

The second is to compel Israel to release the thousands of Palestinian prisoners who are held in Israeli prisons where they’re subjected to torture and killings. The retaliatory attack by Hamas has shocked the West not because Palestinians, who have been living under dehumanising occupation for 75 years, are not expected to resist but also because it has demonstrated that no force is strong enough to crush an oppressed people’s spirit of resilience.

Israel has one of the most extensive and well-funded intelligence services in the world. Its military and intelligence weaponry is sophisticated. Along the border fence between Gaza and Israel, there are advanced ground motion sensors and cameras, as well as highly armed military personnel patrolling along the barbed-wire fence.

And yet, Hamas was able to enter through holes cut in the barbed wire and with the use of paragliders. While this tells the story of failures and the limitations of Israeli intelligence, the bigger story it tells is of the resilience of an oppressed people.

When a human being has been under the yolk of oppression for so long, enduring the level of violence that Palestinians have, this kind of response is inevitable. We know this because when it was black South Africans who had the boot of apartheid on our necks, we too developed creative ways to resist and to fight back.

It is not terrorism to resist the violence and persecution orchestrated by a settler colonialist apartheid state. Hamas is not the terrorist – Israel is.

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