By Natalie Abou Shakra – Gaza City
There is a limit to the sea, and there is a limit to the land. To a Palestinian’s life in Gaza, there is a limit that is not determined by natural death or an unfortunate accident. The harvest seasons forcibly altered, and the fishing boats from their routes blocked. Tanks and bulldozers have plucked the roots of citrus fruits and olive trees kilometers away from the northern and eastern borders of the strip, pushing the borderlines further in, and forcing the inhabitants around these areas out of their homes and into other areas within. The population is already strangled with an Apartheid wall and a suffocating siege and the rope around its neck continues to tighten with the encroachment of the occupation forces from the boundaries inwards by weapons no one is supposed to defy.
Local economy, currency, basic resources, medication, technology, academic development and material, are entirely dependent on the Occupier and the allowance of equipment and supplies in through the crossings in a process of importation only, as exporting to the outer world has been prohibited ever since the blockade was enforced on the population in Gaza. A few days before Valentine’s, and at the demand of the farmers and the Dutch government, 25,000 Carnation flowers were allowed to be exported to Europe, which is one of the few exceptions. But, exceptions… are merely exceptions; no rule from the oppressive codes imposed by the occupation has been altered in favor of the Palestinians in the Strip.
Acres of land across the borders are lost simply because the farmers are targeted by the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) bullets if approached. It is not only about the monetary value from produce that the land composes to the farmer, it more than that: the farmer’s or the peasant’s life is the land. It embodies symbol and existence. The farmer’s existence, in all its aspects, is the land on which s/he finds a reason to live for. Alienated from him/herself and those around him/her, the farmer, the peasant, this individual finds no way for the expression of self. Adding on to the six million Palestinians in exile, are the ones who are exiled on their own land, in their own homes, with their own people.
When we, non-local activists, accompany the farmers to their lands for a day of harvest and work in the fields, the farmers feel safe. However, they are aware of the falsity of this sense of security. The IOF soldiers in their jeeps and hummers gather around the area moments later and begin to strike their bullets towards all individuals present on the other side. Despite this awareness, the farmers insist to be on their lands, in their fields to harvest, reap, and plough. During one of the accompaniments that took place around a week ago, a farmer’s leg was injured in the shooting episode. But, this did not prevent us or the farmers from attending action, again. These strikes target unarmed civilians that are not violating rules or trespassing. But, to the occupier, in their jeeps, in their hummers, with their snipers, with their guns, they have a license to kill in the name of a supposed threat to a security.
In the logic of the oppressor’s sense of security, yes, the will of the oppressed, the will of a people to exist despite the oppression, unarmed, peacefully, is a threat to the occupier’s security of maintaining their oppression, their repression and colonialism, and thus existence as a colonizing and occupying force. Any form that resistance takes is an ultimate threat to their destructive subjugation of the colonized. So, the farmers and activists’ insistence to be present on the land is a successful act of resistance, non-violent civil resistance, in the face of the occupier. And the occupier in targeting unarmed, harmless civilians, engage in a failing, weak act to defy a will. After all, a bullet cannot kill the will, determination, insistence, persistence and resistance of a people; neither can F16, F35, F15, and Apache rockets along with White Phosphorous, tanks, gunboats and snipers.
What the last genocidal war against the Palestinians brought was a louder and wider condemnation from the international community, the intensification and radicalization of the boycotting movement, the increased awareness of the morality and justice of the Palestinian cause, and a stronger choice for civil resistance against the Israeli Apartheid state in its policies, acts and government.
Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise, Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise, I rise, I rise (M. Angelou)
– Natalie Abu Shakra is from Lebanon and is affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement. She defied Israeli orders for Lebanese citizens not to go to Gaza and was able to get in with the Free Gaza movement. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.