Sunday 13 July 2014

The Reasons and Excuses

  The pounding of Gaza with bombs continues with the death toll now reaching over 150 men, women and children. Casualty inducing raids and army incursions are continuing in the West Bank on a daily basis. It’s a grim situation in this part of the world, especially if you’re a Palestinian.

  Here in Abu Dis, the army presence is becoming an almost habitual routine. Around the time of Iftar (breaking of the fast during Ramadan), the army will make its way to the University at the top of the main street. What follows is a tear gas, rubber bullet and stone throwing standoff for a few hours before the army move out. It’s become such a familiar sequence of events that the owner of one of the houses next to Dar Assadaqa that is taken over every evening for ‘strategic purposes’, suggested to the army that he and his family should just move out and make his home a new army base.

  These clashes are all too common but not without consequence. Last night, an 18 year old Palestinian student was shot in the head with a rubber bullet. As the ambulance was taking him to Ramallah hospital, they were stop but an Israeli flying checkpoint. What followed seems to just defy any logical sense to most human beings. The army and police held up the ambulance, took the keys, confiscated all identity cards and made them wait at the side of the road. It was only after half an hour of pressure from the paramedics, human rights groups and other organisations that the authorities finally let them pass. It’s hard to believe in any situation when there is a person with an injury as serious as a bullet wound to the head, would be denied medical treatment for half an hour by anyone, whether you regard them as an enemy or otherwise.

  To Gaza, where the constant bombing and deaths of hundreds of civilians is relentless. The moral high ground claimed by the Israeli government is one of self-defence and retaliation rather than attack and instigation. What is often not mentioned is that the instigation has been occurring for weeks, months and years before the recent events. Over the past month alone, well over 1000 Palestinians have been arrested or re-arrested with no charge and 8 people were killed. The constant barrage of news reports and word of mouth anecdotes of casualties in the West Bank and Gaza over the years must simply be unfathomable to foreigners. “What other nation would put up with rocket fire without retaliation?” is a phrase heard often in defence of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, but what nation would put up with constant occupation and human rights abuses from said occupiers?

  Targeting civilians is morally unjust in every scenario one can imagine. There’s never a valid excuse for it but there is always a reason. The rockets being fired from Gaza by Hamas and the reasons behind them are plain to see. Living under siege, no access to adequate resources, no freedom of movement, and the list goes on. The reasons for the assault on Gaza and the actions of the army in the West Bank, not just this past month but for decades past, are given by the Israeli government as self-defence of its population. This reason cannot and will never wash as any moral excuse for the treatment, occupation and death of so many innocent Palestinians.

Local youths prepare for the inevitable army incursion

Volunteers from the Red Crescent present to tend casualties

An IDF soldier takes position next to Al Quds University

Adam Eriqat was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during clashes in Adu Dis

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