Flotilla in Context: Rise People, Rise

By Rich Wiles

Through the recent murderous events in international waters Israel has once again shown its true colours and its total disregard for humanity. From the global reaction over the last week it seems, that for once, a huge majority of people around the world have seen these attacks in a clear light. Let us call a massacre a massacre. Whilst these atrocities have clearly appalled millions of people, the inhumanity of the Zionist regime should have come as no surprise, for this is nothing new.

What happened to the dedicated human rights activists about the flotilla in the early hours of Monday May 31st was yet another example of Israel’s barbarity against innocent human beings, yet by the following afternoon it could not even be called ‘the latest’ attack. As people around the world took to the streets to call for an end to Israel’s impunity, people in Palestine continued to resist all the way from the southern Palestinian town of Rafah in Gaza, north and across the Palestinian towns of 1948 Palestine, and yet further around the ‘West Bank’. At Kalandia Checkpoint near Ramallah, Palestinians gathered to demonstrate against the massacre at sea. The IOF response was violent as is the norm, and this led to more bloodshed. A 21 year old American photographer was shot in the eye by what is thought to have been a high-velocity tear-gas canister. Emily Henochowicz was immediately rushed to hospital; she now has only one eye…

On Tuesday, three Palestinians were killed in Gaza including a 65 year old woman who was shot in the legs in the area of the Kerem Shalom crossing. In the following days, Zionist settlers, who are supported by the Israeli government in their colonization of Palestinian land through financial incentives and ideology (let us not forget that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is himself a Settler living in a ‘West Bank’ colony near Bethlehem), have continued their violent campaigns against Palestine and its people. In the northern West Bank, settlers from the Yitzhar colony torched around 100 dunums of Palestinian almond and olive groves on Wednesday. On the same day, in al-Khalil (Hebron in English), a Palestinian was killed by Settlers in a car crash. Thursday morning brought yet more Palestinian blood; this time is was the blood of two schoolboys. As children from Al-Aroub refugee camp crossed a road on their way to class a car stopped and an armed Settler stepped out of the vehicle. According to witnesses, the Settler then proceeded to open fire on the schoolboys. This incident happened in full view of the permanently manned IOF watchtowers that dominate the entrance to Al-Aroub Camp. Two boys were shot; one was hit in the thigh, whilst the second boy is still in critical condition after being shot through his stomach. Doctors are as yet still unsure if this boy will survive. Following the shooting the Settler got back in his car and drove away.

People around the world are expressing their anger at the massacre carried out against the flotilla, and rightly so, but nobody should lose sight of the wider context. The activists onboard those ships were demonstrating their support for justice, and their refusal to remain silent. The exact details of injuries and deaths is still unclear, but what is abundantly clear is that they died in defense of Palestine. As those people died, so other innocent people are continuing to die much as they have done for over 62 years under the black clouds of Zionism.

It seems that at last, huge numbers of people around the world are taking notice of events in Palestine, and more widely against Palestinian people and their supporters. Israel’s continued and developing disregard for life and the rule of law is being clearly seen globally by people who would not consider themselves to be activists. These actions are no longer only known by those who choose to find out for themselves; the truth is becoming so very clear for so many people. What happened in international waters in the early hours of Monday morning was grotesque and inhumane, as were the events in the following days which must also be recognized internationally.

The 1948 massacres in Deir Yassin, Tantura, and other villages; the massacre in Kufr Qassem in 1956; the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Shabra and Shatila in 1982; the massacres in Qana in 1996 and again in 2006; the massacre in Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002; the massacres in Gaza through 2008 and 2009; the ongoing external and internal displacement of millions of Palestinians, and more than 60 years of ongoing colonization of Palestinian lands and all-encompassing denial of rights – this is the context in which this most recent massacre is inextricably rooted.

The Israeli propaganda machine is working harder than it has ever had to work before, but its wheels are falling off. Netanyahu and his fellow war criminals are on the back foot as their lies are becoming more and more desperate, and more and more transparent.

People of the world, you can see what is happening. You are taking to the streets. You are rightly angry at this inhumanity. For the sake of your fellow human beings this barbarity must be stopped for ever. All inalienable rights must be enforced, and all occupied lands must be liberated. Now must be our time; Rise people, rise…

– Rich Wiles is an artist, writer, and activist based in Palestine. His latest book is ‘Behind the Wall: Life, Love & Struggle in Palestine’ (Potomac Books). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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