“What it feels like
to live here you ask? It’s like being a shadow of your own, caught on the
ground, not being able to break out and you see yourself lying there, but you
cannot fill the shadow with life”.
- The words of a 17 year-old Palestinian boy in an Israeli prison camp.
Unlike any prison camp or Concentration Camp, Gaza is the largest, most crowded and inhumane “open air” prison camp on earth. For nearly a decade, the Camp has been under Israeli military siege. Periodically, the Camp comes under barbaric attacks by the Israeli army to terrorise the Palestinian population and instil fear in the Camp.
There are some 1.7 million (Muslim and Christian) Palestinians crammed into the 1.40 square miles Camp. Most of the Palestinians (51% are younger than 18 years) are refugees who have been ethnically cleansed from their land by the Israeli fascist regime. The Camp is under Israeli military blockade from land, sea, and air. In addition to an electronic fence and remote-controlled guns mounted on Israeli watch towers around the camp, the Israeli army enforces a 300 to 500-meter-wide “no-go zone” or “buffer zone” inside the full length of the Camp. Palestinians cannot enter the zone, but the Israeli army is in-and-out of the zone as often as they like murdering Palestinians and destroying homes, schools water and sanitation facilities, sewage pumping station and agricultural crops.
The entire population of the Camp is on the verge of starvation. Thanks to a vicious policy of collective punishment imposed by the Israeli fascist regime and unconditionally supported and financed by the U.S. and the European governments (EU) in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention The policy of “putting the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger” is criminal even by the Nazis’ standard. Some prominent Jews have likened the Camp to the Warsaw Ghetto under the Nazis. It is worse than a Concentration Camp under the Nazi; it is a normalised (in Western conscience) Concentration Camp.
A recent report by the UN, Gaza in 2020, argues that the Camp will no longer be ‘a liveable place’ in 2020. Another report, Gaza’s Children: Falling Behind by the UK-based charities, Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that, “anaemia [a dietary iron deficiency] is widespread in the Camp, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 per cent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers”. In addition, more than ten per cent of Palestinian children under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the most serious consequences of anaemia, including “poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults. Anaemia contributes to 20 per cent of all maternal deaths”. As Anne McClintock, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes; “Death by siege is like death by cancer; it is slow and invisible. Death by siege wreaks its havoc over generations. What is called “slow violence” is the “attrition devastation” of society that takes place gradually over time and space. “Slow violence may be less visible, less media-sensational but enacts a toll no less lethal and lasting for being slow and out of sight”. Like the policy of Nazi Germany, “Israel's policy is that of a monstrous sadist, a sadist who finds hideous pleasure in subjecting its victims to pain that lasts a lifetime … This is evil of an unusual kind, evil that delights in its own cruelty, evil that seeks no end other than the satisfaction of watching its victims suffer for years on end, with a glimmer of hope offered now and then -- but solely for the purpose of making the suffering to come even more painful”, writes Arthur Silber.
In his recent visit to the prison camp, Noam Chomsky, a long-time supporter on the state of Israeli and a well-known critique of U.S.-Israel terror against the Palestinians observed: "It’s kind of amazing and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive, as essentially caged animals, and subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment only to humiliate them". To add to the daily suffering and misery of life in the Camp, Israeli forces often turn the Camp into a war zone, committing massacres of Palestinian civilians in broad daylight.
The Camp is constantly and savagely bombed by the Israeli army and air force. Attacks were generally indiscriminate by U.S.-made fighter jets (F-16s bombers), Apache helicopter gunships, unmanned drones and tanks throughout the Camp even in the very densely populated areas of the Camp. The Camp remains devastated by these attacks.
On 14 November 2012 the Camp came under indiscriminate and savage Israeli bombardments. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed and wounded in the one week of the barbaric attacks. The Israeli army started the massacre by killing three Palestinians, including a 20-year old mentally-ill young Palestinian man, Ahmed al-Nabaheen, a 13-year old boy, Hamid Younis Abu Daqqa, who was playing football in his Real Madrid shirt inside the Camp, and the unprovoked assassination of the Palestinian leader Ahmed al-Jabari. It was one of countless cease fire violations by Israel to perpetuate violence. At least 160 Palestinians were massacred, including 40 children in a week of indiscriminate and barbaric attacks. “We’re seeing the killing of pregnant women, elderly men, and children. It’s very, very grave situation here in Gaza, with practically every part of the Gaza strip receiving either Israeli airstrikes or naval shelling. We’re seeing tanks amassing on the border”, said Harry Fear, an activist and filmmaker in Gaza (Full interview on Press TV, 17/11/2012). When the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) starts indicting Israeli criminals?
In winter 2008/2009, the Camp came under heavy and indiscriminate barbaric attacks by the Israeli army and air force. Entire neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, universities, mosques, civilian buildings, important archives, humanitarian foundations, civilian infrastructure, including sport facilities, libraries and cinemas were destroyed. At least 1,400 Palestinians were murdered during the 3-week aerial and ground attacks. More than 300 were children. The death ratio was 111 dead Palestinians to one dead Israeli Jew. Over 6000 Palestinians were injured, including 1,500 children. There “is no immunity for anyone in Gaza” every prisoner, men, women and children, is a target, said one of Israel’s fascist henchmen, Yitzhak Aharonovitch. Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai warned that the Palestinian prisoners were “bringing on themselves a bigger Shoah [Holocaust], because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate”. According to Amnesty International, “Israel had committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law” and its leaders should be held accountable for war crimes.
The deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians has nothing to do with Israel false propaganda of “self-defence”. The deliberate attacks on Palestinian civilians intended to generate mass public pressure on the HAMAS government. The strategy has failed because of Palestinian Sumud. Israel’s pretext of “self-defence” is outright immoral and criminal and cannot be justified as one of self-defence. Israel is an occupying power and has no right to self-defence whatsoever. The best self-defence strategy for Israel is to end its brutal oppression and murderous occupation of the Palestinian people and their land. The Palestinian people have a legitimate right to resistance to defend themselves in response to repeated Israeli criminal aggression. In fact, the Palestinians left with no choice but to engage in armed resistance despite the disproportion between the Israeli army and the Palestinians.
For its war crimes against the Palestinians, Israel is rewarded handsomely. The U.S. taxpayers provide Israel with more than $3 billion to upgrade Israel’s military and develop its industry while millions (50 million depend on food stamps) of Americans cannot afford to buy food. The EU governments pay for the building of illegal Jewish colonies (settlements) on stolen Palestinian land and investing heavily in Israeli projects and Israeli industries. Europe is Israel’s largest export market for products produced on illegally occupied Palestinian land. Furthermore, major imperialist organisations like the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the World Bank, etc. have always endorsed and defended Israel’s aggression and brutal treatments of the Palestinian people.
People often compare Israel with Nazi Germany. The comparison is inaccurate and benefits Israel. Unlike Israel, Germany was involved in war against formidable armies, including the world’s greatest army, the Red Army. By contrast, Israel’s war has always been between a major military power and a defenceless people, mostly unarmed men, women and children. The idea that “the mighty Israeli army has defeated the Arab/Muslim army” is outright Zionist propaganda. There isn’t an “Arab/Muslim army” and there has never been one. In 1973, Israel was on the brink of complete annihilation by the Egyptian army. It was only saved by the U.S. and its allies. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel possesses an arsenal of several hundred nuclear bombs, biological and chemical weapons. According to the recent Global Militarisation Index (GMI) released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Israel tops the list of the world's most militarized nations today. Israel has the world’s fourth or fifth largest army and the most criminal army. In addition, Israel is unconditionally supported and armed by the world’s most violent “superpower”, the United States and European governments. While Nazi Germany had committed heinous war crimes, it is also true that Nazis’ crimes have been amplified and exaggerated to justify the creation of Israel and Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people.
In addition, mainstream media (Western capitalist media), including the Internet, print media (e.g. the Murdoch Press, New York Times and the Washington Post) and TV channels are owned and controlled by wealthy pro-Israel Zionist Jews. The pro-Israel propaganda today is unique in the history of propaganda. Every Western propaganda organ (BBC, ABC, CNN, New York Times, Fox News, etc.) is fiercely pro-Israel and anti-Palestinians. For decades, Israel is portrayed as a victim “defending itself” from (defenceless) Palestinians who have been depicted as “militants”, dehumanised and stripped of their basic human rights and identity. Today’s pro-Israel Western propaganda is far more sophisticated and brutal than Nazi propaganda. Indeed, the Nazis learnt the art of propaganda from the Americans. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany Minister of Propaganda was fascinated by American propaganda. There are thousands of Goebbels-like (or better) propagandists working for Israel today. You never hear or read that the Israeli army forced Palestinian children to act as human shield in war against Palestinian fighters. The BBC will never tell the British public that the Israeli army provokes children to run, so they can practice shooting (murdering) them. Indeed, British viewers of BBC news believe the Palestinians are the oppressors and illegal occupiers of their own country, observed John Pilger. It is the publicly-funded most vicious and false propaganda organ in history.
The primary aim of Western propaganda is to manipulate public opinions and deflect attention away from Israel’s war crime. At the same time demonising and blaming the Palestinian resistance for the suffering of the Palestinian people. The long finger is always pointed at the Palestinians and Arabs in general – never at Israelis and Jews. Western politicians, pundits and journalists have always backed Israel’s war crimes and Israel’s (religio-fascist) Zionist ideology. A case in point is the Dutch fascist Leon de Winter who proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population. If some western politicians, pundits and journalists don’t support Israel, they remain silent and indifferent to Israel’s war crimes. In other words, they are complicit in Israel’s war crimes.
Furthermore, Israel can count on the support it received from the major powerful and wealthy Jewish organisations, the pro-Israel Jewish Lobby. From the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s attack dog in the U.S to the Brooking Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations, Israel is fiercely defended. The submission to Israel must be total. Congressmen have a duty to put the interests of Israel before U.S. interests. Anyone, even the President, who dares to utter a single word critical of Israel’s terror, will commit political suicide. Israel demands and gets blind obedience, nothing else.
What Israel calls “peace”, is a smokescreen used by Israeli leaders to manipulate public opinions and justify violence. They have been fooling the world into thinking that Israel wants peace “without conditions”, but with Zionist conditions. In reality, real peace is Israel’s worst nightmare. History has shown that Israel is the enemy of peace and has sabotaged every hope for peaceful settlement. For Israelis, peace means: “We will demolish you homes, destroy your farm, kill or imprison you children and take your land and water to build colonies for Jews and you should remain silent. You have no right to protest”. In fact most people who have been murdered by the Israeli fascist regime were known to have advocated peace with Israel, including the murder of Ahmed al-Jabari. He was killed as an act of provocation two days after he had negotiated a truce in Cairo on behalf of the resistance movement, HAMAS. Truce means diplomatic process with HAMAS which is against Israel’s violent ideology. Furthermore, the so-called “Palestinian Authority” – installed and financed by the U.S., EU governments and Israel – is not about peace; it is serving Israeli propaganda. The PA or the “Vichy Regime” has always been about managing the Israeli occupation on behalf of Israel and the U.S. It has no power to negotiate peace on equal terms and the PA depends on Israel for survival.
Gaza is a reminder of fascism a foretaste of war crimes. “… Gaza is something of a laboratory for observing an obscene of dignity … The constant surveillance from the sky, collective punishment through blockade and isolation, the intrusion into homes and communications, and restrictions on those trying to travel, or marry, or work make it difficult to live a dignified life in Gaza”, writes Ranjaie Batniji, a physician at Stanford University (The Lancet, 380, August 2012).
Finally, in March 2010, Martin Van Crevel, professor of military history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an adviser to the Israeli military declared: “We [Jews] possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets … most European capitals are targets of our air force … The Palestinians should all be deported ...Two years ago, only 7 or 8 per cent of Israelis were of the opinion that this would be the best solution, two months ago [January 2010] it was 33 per cent, and now, according to a Gallup poll, the figure is 44 per cent”. The Israeli threat is against the world in general and Arab nations in particular.
From its inception more than six decades ago, Israel has employed a fascist ideology in its occupation of Palestine and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Today, Israel is the greatest threat to world’s peace. Israel’s aim is to dominate the region by violence, turning Arab nations into prison camps and depriving them of life and dignity. Arabs leaders are wrong to concede defeat. They should make serious efforts to develop robust deterrence capabilities against Israeli aggression. Only the defeat of Israel will advance world’s peace and regional stability.
Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.