You heard it. Media have decided that this attack was “unprovoked,” casually leaving out decades of occupation and oppression that have turned Gaza into the world’s largest concentration camp and open-air prison.
In fact, this attack was very much provoked. And the violence did not just start on October 7th.
To be clear, Israel and Gaza are not two countries at war. Gaza is a territory under siege, where Israel controls every aspect of life. Palestinians didn’t break through a “border” to enter Israel. They destroyed a fence separating them from the homes they were forced out of.
Over 75% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees and were forced out of their homes where illegal Israeli settlers now live in nearby settlements.
The 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza are besieged, living in a cage…literally in the world’s largest open-air prison, and are constantly surveilled from the sky by Israeli drones, harassed and terrorized by Israeli forces.
For over 15 years, the illegal Israeli blockade has stopped food, medicine and other critical goods from entering and prevents Gazans from leaving – even for lifesaving medical treatment. As a result, 97% of Gazans lack access to safe drinking water, 45% are unemployed, and nearly all children have suffered grave emotional damage from regular bombings.
Israel has even put Gaza on a strict diet, counting calories to limit food from entering Gaza during the blockade, effectively contributing to the starvation and malnourishment of the population.
And because 50% of Palestinians living in Gaza are children, the youngest have suffered the most.
In 2018, the United Nations declared Gaza “unlivable” after years of Israeli military operations destroying most of Gaza’s infrastructure with tons of bombs that targeted schools, hospitals, residential homes, rodes, electric grids, water treatment facilities and markets.
Now, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has declared his intention to suffocate Gaza totally.
On the first day alone, Israel dropped over 700 tons of bombs on the strip, flattening entire neighborhoods and massacring entire families. The assault has targeted mosques, hospitals, schools and other critical civilian infrastructure.
But further back, to the creation of Israel in 1948, when heavily armed Zionist militias ethnically cleansed three-quarters-of-a-million Palestinians from their homes, destroying nearly 600 Palestinian villages and cities, killing at least 15,000 Palestinians, and committing over 70 massacres.
Many living in southern Palestine fled to Gaza, where they have since been caged and blocked from leaving. Israeli settlers took over their towns and villages and stole their homes. Therefore, the action we saw this month was not Palestinians breaking through a border to enter Israel. Instead, they destroyed a fence separating them from the homes they were forced out of.
Since 1948, Israel has steadily occupied more Palestinian land, dispossessed more people of their homes, and imposed a brutal two-tier system, giving Jews more rights over Palestinian Muslims and Christians. It has also continually built settlements on stolen Palestinian land – explicitly illegal under international law, meaning that every Israeli settler is breaking the law.
During South African apartheid, the indigenous oppressed people fought back, often using violence, which was their right under international law. At that time, anti-Aaprtheid revolutionary leader Nelson Mandela, who is now celebrated, was deemed a terrorist.
The United Nations has affirmed what it says is the “legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
Gaza has always been a particular target of Israel.
In 2008, Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead”: a wanton, 3-week invasion of Gaza that killed over 1100 Palestinians.
Six years later, in 2014, it launched “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw Israel pummel civilian targets across the densely populated strip, turning schools and hospitals into rubble. Over 2,300 people were killed and more than 10,000 wounded.
When Gazans attempted to peacefully demonstrate against their imprisonment during the 2018 Great March of Return, Israeli snipers opened fire indiscriminately, targeting women, children and medical workers.
Israeli soldiers even come out admitting they were ordered to target the legs and ankles of the demonstrators so Palestinians are disabled.
During the Great March of Return, Israeli snipers shot and killed medic Razan Najjar and journalist Yasser Murtaja, whose names will not be forgotten.
Palestinians in Gaza have repeatedly tried non-violent resistance, only to be cut down in droves by Israeli snipers whenever they protest for the siege to be lifted.
Neighboring Egypt also works with Israel to control Palestinian movement in Gaza and ensure no one gets to leave.
Decolonization is not easy, and breaking the chains of oppression is rarely bloodless. Yet Western media and politicians only pay attention and feign outrage when Israelis are being killed.
Pundits often blame Palestinians for their own deaths.
When Israelis are killing Palestinians, it is just business as usual – and why would the media react any differently when the United States is pumping Israel with $3.8 Billion in military aid each year, fueling profits for weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon?
Far from being unprovoked, then, as the media claim, this current wave of violence was made all but inevitable.
In this light, then, the problem is not Hamas.
Instead, it’s a decades-long colonial apartheid project that Israel has subjected Palestine to, making a violent outburst inevitable.
Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh