‘Operation Guardian of the Walls’ Will Not Fix Israel’s Apartheid Walls

An Israeli airstrike on Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Jamal Juma

Israel has once again gone on a killing spree. Over 83 Palestinians, including 17 children, have already been killed in Israel’s bombings of Gaza as of today, 13 May 2021. Israeli forces have escalated their repression and attacked the Al Aqsa Mosque four times this week. Over one thousand Palestinians are wounded.

The numbers are rising as you read. In an unprecedented act, Israel has redeployed their military troops normally stationed in the occupied West Bank, called ‘Border Police,’ inside the Green Line.

We are in pain for the losses of lives, our wounded, our prisoners, the destruction of our homes and our holy sites.

We are in urgent need of maximum global mobilization to pressure Israel to stop this onslaught now. More importantly, we need for the international community to recognize Israel’s regime as the system of apartheid, settler-colonialism and occupation that it is. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes for the crimes to end.

We Just Will Not Accept Apartheid

As Palestinians, we call for support but we are not passive victims. We would not have withstood 73 years of ethnic cleansing, dispossession and Israeli attempts to destroy our presence at all levels, including the systematic suppression of our national identity, our social relations and cultural expressions.

What we are witnessing today follows a month of relentless attempts by Israel to stop Palestinians from doing what they have always done: to celebrate Ramadan in Jerusalem, filling the al Aqsa Mosque and the streets of Jerusalem at night.

Palestinians haven’t budged. They won a number of small victories against Israel’s attempts to exclude them from their city of Jerusalem. They have achieved the removal of ‘security’ barriers at Damascus Gate, which blocked access to the Old City. The displacement of the Palestinian families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah has been postponed up to this point. When Israel tried to stop Palestinian citizens of Israel from coming to Jerusalem for the end of Ramadan, Palestinians from Jerusalem came out in mass, simultaneously bringing to a complete standstill Israel’s main highway leading to Tel Aviv as they welcomed and accompanied Palestinians on their way to the holy city. In the end, the annual march of Israeli settlers to the al Aqsa Mosque had to be canceled.

The reaction from Gaza to the ongoing Israeli aggression on the al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem may have been predictable. What caught the Israeli establishment by surprise was the explosion of protests in Israel’s so-called ‘mixed’ cities. The real meaning of what Israel calls ‘coexistence’ has been laid bare. These cities are – Israeli society is – a system of apartheid. There is Sun City and there is Sharpeville and Palestinians just won’t have it.

Today Palestinians are demanding their rights on the streets everywhere.

The walls of Israeli apartheid are crumbling.

Guarding the Cracks in Their Apartheid Walls

Israel has called its current military onslaught “Operation Guardian of the Walls”. It is a name of chilling honesty. Israel will do everything it can to subdue Palestinians, to at least momentarily close the cracks in their walls of oppression.

Israel thought it had Gazans besieged behind walls, confined in an unlivable environment and crushed under the trauma of repeated massacres in 2006, 2009 and 2014 to keep them suffering in silence. They believed Palestinians in the West Bank were trapped within the confines of its apartheid Wall that encircles their villages and towns.

Maybe even worse, Israel imagined the West Bank compliant with a Palestinian Authority that currently uses its security forces as substitutes for the Israeli Border Police, which have been deployed beyond in the Green Line, in order to protect illegal Israeli military checkpoints, its equally illegal Wall and other places of protest. Palestinians in Jerusalem were supposedly leaderless and busy with their basic survival.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, so they thought, had grown used to living as third-class citizens under apartheid and happy just to cast a vote once in a while for a political system in which they will never actually have a say.

Palestinian refugees should have simply stayed forgotten amidst the flurry of normalization deals with Arab dictatorships.

Israel developed an elaborate system to fragment the Palestinian people in differentiated, oppressive regimes.

A perfect fortress to defend Israeli apartheid.

All of a sudden, the walls of this fortress are showing cracks. Some walls have simply crumbled as protests have rocked cities from Nazareth in the north to Rahat in the Naqab.

Today we are all united once again. Today we reaffirm together that we won’t leave and that we will struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

No one knows what will happen next. Yet one thing is sure: No Operation, however brutal, will fix these cracks in the Wall.

– Jamal Juma is the general coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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