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Muhammad Shehada

Israeli state terror will fail to pacify Gazans

Commercial and residential buildings in Gaza City have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2018

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Comment: Israel is attempting to intimidate and terrorise the civilian population of besieged Gaza for political gain, writes Muhammad Shehada.
Last Sunday, Israel botched a special forces intelligence gathering operation in the Gaza Strip City of Khan Younis, and triggered a wave of violent escalation.

The Israeli operation came at the worst and most inexcusable time possible - only few days after Hamas and Israel had reached an understanding to restore calm on both sides of the fence, and reintroduce progress to Gaza in the form of generous inflows of Qatari purchased fuel and financial support, to cover the salaries of local government employees.

Once the Israeli cover was blown, and more Hamas personnel were killed in a long exchange of fire bolstered by intensive aerial cover by Israeli drones and Apache helicopters, Hamas retaliated with a barrage of improvised projectiles, aiming to signal a red line of deterrence, and indicate that Israel's army cannot simply do as they please in the besieged enclave.

The US immediately green-lit an unconstrained Israeli retaliation, siding blindly with Israel and conjuring up the 'self-defense' cliché to provide impunity for whatever crimes Israel intended to unleash.

As
emphasised by Amnesty international on Tuesday, "Israel has a history of carrying out serious violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza, including war crimes, with impunity and displaying a shocking disregard for Palestinian lives."

Israel responded immediately to Gaza's loud refusal to be subjugated by what was clearly an act that followed the dictionary definition of terrorism - pounding, intimidating and terrorising Gaza's caged civilian population as an instrument to achieve political gains. In Israel's case, to send strong messages to Hamas and "exact a price from the other side," as put by a senior Israeli officer on Tuesday morning.

When people wake up and see destruction, rubble and funerals, they will, presumably, be terrorised back into passivity

In one evening alone, Israel struck twice as many high-rise central civilian facilities around Gaza, as it had in the entire 51-day-long Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

A senior Israeli Air Force officer said Tuesday morning that Monday's airstrikes were "completely different from anything we've known in the past. These are targets of high-rise buildings in city centres."

The bombed civilian buildings were predesignated targets, carefully calibrated to inflict Gaza with the desired magnitude of pain, in order to 'teach its population a lesson'. When people wake up and see destruction, rubble and funerals, they will, presumably, be terrorised back into passivity.

The gross nature of Israeli targeting in the last 24 hours capitalises on the pain and trauma of Gaza's civilian population, who are already caged in an unlivable toxic slum from birth to death, and plays a political game against Hamas.

First, the al-Aqsa press compound was obliterated by more than seven airstrikes, then Israel similarly wiped out al-Rahma residential tower, al-Amal hotel, several homes, a kindergarten, restaurant, pharmacy and similar constructions which Gaza's civilians use on a daily basis.

And if those scenes of vast destruction weren't enough, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories - who is supposedly responsible for the welfare of the occupied Palestinian population – tweeted in two languages a horrendous message to terrorize Gazans back into passivity, by recalling past horrors from earlier violent events:

"Gazan residents, have a good look at those images, taken from the 2014 'Protective Edge' operation: A picture that is worth a thousand words."

Finally, Israel's last major target in Gaza on Tuesday morning was particularly disgraceful. People in al-Yazji residential tower in the very centre of Gaza were reportedly woken at 4:30 am by a phone call giving them one minute to leave their homes, or die inside.

The Israeli army seeks to put lipstick on a pig, saying that throughout this latest wave of violence it sent warnings or lethal missiles, and evacuation orders through phone calls to the inhabitants of targeted civilian facilities before they were struck, in order to minimize human casualties.

But this tactic is grossly unfair, as it gives Gazan civilians a choice between losing their homes, or their lives, and issues last minute warning and order to evacuate, essentially to a blockaded enclave where nothing is safe and there's nowhere to run.

Gazans are already caged in an unliveable toxic slum from birth to death

In sum, Israel is trying to teach Gazans a lesson: Do not walk out of line, or complain about the slow death inflicted by the most traumatic pain imaginable, sanctioned by America's green light.

If Israel was really looking for peace, it would work to restore calm and assuage existing "security" problems by allowing Gazans the basics of human dignity, and letting them be without regular bombings, intimidation and bullying of the civilian population.


Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab. 

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