By Mamoon Alabbasi
The recent massacre that killed about eighteen people, mostly women and children, in Beit Hanoun as a result of a direct Israeli attack is nothing new, horrid as it is. Also expected were Israel’s explanations of the ‘tragic’ event.
Both Israeli officials and their apologists were quick to claim that the strike was an accident and that it was supposedly targeting militants who fired Qassam rockets from civilian areas in ‘no-longer-occupied’ Gaza into ‘no-longer-occupying’ Israel. Unsurprisingly, many of those apologists added that though they felt sad for the victims’ loss of life, they do, however, fully understand Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its concern for security.
What is truly astonishing, however, is the fact that Israel has managed to get away with what it did unpunished from most mainstream media outlets. Had it been done by any other state or organisation, the normally critical media would have not given the undertakers of the act the benefit of the doubt, while ignoring the whole context of the crisis.
Instead mainstream media has generally acted as an accomplice to Israel’s crimes by either abstaining from mentioning the context of the conflict or portraying a misleading context when reporting the Middle East conflict. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, the media has sponsored a number of fallacies and even myths when covering the recent massacre.
Israeli officials repeatedly claim that they no longer occupy Gaza. But what are we to understand from that claim? Is Gaza an independent sovereign state with full control of its borders, airspace and sea? The fact that the Israeli army (ironically called ‘Israeli Defence Force’) is no longer patrolling the streets of tiny but populated Gaza does not make the besieged strip free of occupation.
Retreating from inside the totally occupied area to surrounding positions, Israel has not ended its occupation of Gaza under any law including its own. About 1.5 million people living in a small area surrounded by a ruthless army that has ‘fully’ occupied them for over 38 years and can come back in whenever it feels like it to commit any inhuman action it pleases is not the concept of ‘no-longer-occupied’ that would spring to mind to the average Western observer. The fact is, the unholy Israeli presence has never left the God-tested strip.
As a follow up to their claim of no longer occupying Gaza, the Israeli authorities demand that Palestinians living in the strip should no longer engage in military action against Israel. But even if Gaza were suddenly (if not magically) to become an independent sovereign state with full control of its economy, borders, and the rest, such a demand should never escape the scrutiny of free objective media. It’s like Bin Laden asking the people of Texas not to antagonise al-Qaeda because his followers never targeted the southern state in the tragic terrorists’ attacks of 9/11.
Imagine if Nazi Germany had occupied London during World War II, would it be understandable if Hitler were to ask, say the people of Manchester not to help out the Londoners because his troops were not marching in the streets of Manchester?
What has also escaped the attention of many journalists, and a greater number of lawyers I might add, is the fact that ceasing to do a crime that you’ve been continuously doing for over 38 years does not give you immunity from punishment. Like the unforgivably monstrous sponsors of the Holocaust, the equally ugly mass murdering occupiers must be brought to justice and shame.
Rockets from Civilian Areas:
Another repeated claim that goes unnoticed is the idea that Palestinian militants are firing at the Israeli army or at Israel from civilian areas. Not many have bothered to point out that in a small land that has been occupied and severely controlled for over 38 years there is no such thing as a military area. It’s not a case of two countries at war. There is no Palestinian army. Those ‘militants’ are in effect civilians fighting occupation from their homes. Risky and unadvisable as it may be, they do not see a credible alternative way to obtain liberation.
However, if Israel acknowledges that it is ‘hitting back’ at civilian areas, why aren’t there cries of ‘terrorism’ in Western media? Is this a green light for terrorists that see it as acceptable to kill innocent civilians if there is a non-civilian among them?
Although they certainly are perusing counter-productive methods, Israel has the right to be concerned about its own security. However, to expect the Palestinians to give a hand is like anticipating invaded Poland to give a damn about Nazi Germany’s security phobia. From the perspective of his generals, Hitler had legitimate security concerns, too.
At the end of the day, invading or occupying powers are human too, even if their actions appear to be far from it. But shouldn’t people, or countries in this matter, be more concerned with the security of the invaded or occupied party instead? Do you go to the bullied child and ask him/her not to push back? Not for the concern that it would make matters worse for the bullied child, but because it might discomfort the bulling child.
‘If it wasn’t for the Qassam rockets,’ the Israelis would like us to believe, ’none of this would have happened.‘ But it did happen before. Countless number of times, throughout Israel’s 38-year long occupation, and certainly long before the invention of those so called rockets, Israel has committed one atrocity after another. But most journalists and editors fail to mention that. They just nod their heads as Israeli officials make their – what should be -unbelievable statements.
That’s probably why the people of Gaza (and the rest of Palestine) seem – and in some cases indeed are – suicidal. They can’t bank on international organisations or world media to save them. Even during those instances where the whole world appears to side with them, they have not been rescued from this torturing never-ending occupation. Here’s a word that would sum up the context of the whole Middle East conflict; occupation.
-Mamoon Alabbasi is a freelance journalist and editor for Middle-East-Online.com and AlarabOnline.org – He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org