By NYU SJP Members Samantha Wischnia and Alaa Yousef | WSN News
Supporters of the Israeli assault on the people of Gaza have placed a disproportionate focus on the rockets fired into Israel and have demonstrated a willful blindness to the tragedy on the other side. The Palestinian death count stands at 167. In total, the Israeli military injured over 1,200 Palestinians. Compared to the six Israeli deaths, one can see that this is not a war between two equal adversaries; it is an ongoing massacre by a military powerhouse against a relatively defenseless population.
Those who support Israel’s aggression, including the U.S. government and media outlets, emphasize Israeli casualties and insistently label attacks from Gaza as acts of terror. Put into context, however, it is clear that Gaza’s missiles are the desperate attempts at resistance by a people who were made refugees in 1948 and have been systematically oppressed ever since, with U.S. taxpayers helping foot the bill.
In defense of Israel’s attack on Gaza, some observers have cited Hamas’ rocket attacks, as if the matter were clear-cut and the slightest incursion were reason enough to justify an outright invasion. But these rockets, which have killed far fewer civilians over the past decade than Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense killed in a few days, cannot be discussed outside the context of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The blockade began in 2006 and has rendered the strip of land an “open-air prison” according to Noam Chomsky, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Israel controls everything that goes in and out of Gaza, including essentials such as food and medical supplies. Between 2007 and 2010, Israel calculated the bare minimum caloric intake that Gazans would need to qualify as “nourished” and has only allowed this amount since the blockade.
This is only part of the picture of oppression left undiscussed by popular media, the extent of which would make it much harder to dismiss Gaza’s missiles as offensive or terrorist. One fact of particular interest for WSN readers is that Israel’s occupation is made possible by U.S. political and economic aid, including $3.1 billion in military assistance this year alone.
Beyond their primary failure to acknowledge the siege and occupation of Gaza, supporters of the Israeli assault have also misconstrued the conflict’s timeline. Gaza’s rockets are not the decisive factor that forced Israel to respond. In fact, they were preceded by Israeli offensives, such as the shooting of 13-year-old Hameed Abu Daqqa while he played soccer in Khan Yunis, the murder of an unarmed and mentally disabled man who unknowingly approached a border fence, and the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the leader of Hamas’s military wing, who was working on a truce agreement at the time of his extra-judicial murder. Despite Israel’s clear initiation of this bloody conflict, the U.S. government maintains that Israel’s assault is merely self-defense, and media coverage has thus far obliged in repeating this fiction. But as Chomsky stated, “When Israelis … 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 they are crushing … That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense.”
Israel broke the recent ceasefire Saturday morning, killing an unarmed protester and injuring 19 people. We hope Israel will permit the re-establishment of a ceasefire soon. But even if that holds, the suffering of the Palestinians will not end as long as Israel, with full U.S. government backing, persists in its illegal blockade and occupation — the true source of the violence.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 26 print edition. Samantha Wischnia and Alaa Yousef are contributing writers. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.