Tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets in Rabat on Sunday 20 July in protest against the massacres of civilians in Gaza by a ruthless Israeli military. The scenes broadcast through TV channels showed Israeli missiles targeting homes of civilians without prior notice wreaking death and destruction on a population already suffering from a prolonged and unjust siege, and lacking the basic conditions of life.
Over the last decade, successive Israeli governments have waged war against the people of Gaza hoping to prevent Hamas fighters from launching rockets against Israeli towns. During the 2008-9 campaign Israeli army killed over 1400 Palestinians using lethal weapons such as white phosphorus munitions, and shelling down residential areas of Gaza city from air, land and sea in total violation of international humanitarian laws.
Gaza is a tiny strip of land on the Mediterranean, bordered from the east and south by Israel and from the west by Egypt. Given its limited surface estimated at 139 Square kilometers and a population of nearly 2 million people, it is one of the poorest and most densely areas on the planet.
The population of Gaza includes tens of thousands of descendants of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes in what has now become the land of Israel during the 1948 and 1967 wars. In 2005 Ariel Sharon pulled out Israeli army from Gaza and evicted a number of Jewish settlements as part of a unilateral disengagement plan. Israel, however, has continued to control Gaza’s airspace, waters, and crossings making living conditions in the strip almost impossible and forcing Palestinians to search for other, less dignified alternatives of subsistence.
The recent Israeli aggression against Gaza apparently comes as a reaction to allegations against Hamas for kidnapping and killing three young Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Hamas denied the accusations, but that obviously did not prevent Israeli authorities from raiding homes and arresting numerous activists from Hamas and other organizations and confiscating their properties. On July 2, a Palestinian teenager, Mohamed Abu Khdeir was reported missing. Later Israeli police discovered his dead body and arrested 3 suspects who confessed to the crime.
The ongoing assault against Gaza’s people has revealed once more the little regard that Israel’s political and military establishment have for peace with Palestinians on just and equitable terms. Gaza under Hamas’s authority represents a veritable challenge for Israel. The last peace agreement between Hamas and Fatah leading to a Palestinian unity government was a real setback to Israeli policy of weakening Palestinians. The unity which should have been hailed by the international community as a step toward building a Palestinian state was denounced by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and dismissed by so many regional and international governments. The people in Gaza pay the price of the unconditional support of the United States and the European Union for Israeli’s policies of aggression and collective punishment against the Palestinians. They also reap the fruits of aborted democratic change in the Arab World notably in neighboring Egypt, where the new regime, in striking similarity with that of ousted Mubarak, refuses to allow food and medical aid into Gaza via Rafah crossing. Egyptian media which ought to cover the news of the daily massacres of hundreds of innocent civilians through missiles, bombs and tank shells poured indiscriminately against residential areas, have engaged into an ugly campaign of hate and instigation against Palestinians and their supporters among the Qataris, Tunisians, Moroccans and Turks.
The toll of the Israeli aggression against Gaza to is mounting every hour. To this moment horrendous scenes of killings, of dismembered bodies of children are broadcast on satellite channels demonstrating the lengths to which Israeli politicians and military officials can go to destroy Palestinian hopes for independence and a life of dignity. Hamas military brigades meanwhile continue to launch their rockets and attack Israeli soldiers. In the eyes of their enemy they are terrorists who threaten the lives of Israeli citizens and must be eliminated. Certainly since August 1997, Hamas and several other armed organizations: Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF) have been listed as terrorist organizations by US government. The American decision provided cover for Israeli intelligence apparatus to launch a series of assassinations of Palestinian leaders including Hamas current leader, Khaled Mashaal who miraculously survived a poisoning attempt staged by two Mossad agents. Yasser Arafat was less fortunate. He died in 2004 in a French hospital after his health deteriorated quickly due to food poisoning. After a decade of futile peace talks with Israel which began in Oslo in 1993, Arafat refused the unjust terms of peace settlements dictated by Israel that deprived the Palestinian refugees from the right of return to their homeland and claiming East Jerusalem as capital of the Palestinian state.
Although Palestinian authorities during the mandates of Yasser Arafat and Abbas Abu Mazen engaged in peace talks and expressed willingness to make enormous concessions, they have been unable to convince their Israeli counterparts to halt the building of a separation barrier of nearly 700 kilometers isolating the West bank and creating yet another ghetto only a little bigger than that of Gaza. Nor have they been able to convince the international community to exert pressure on various Israeli governments to freeze their systematic settlement projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
What we are witnessing today is a real human tragedy that speaks to our conscience. If the innocent blood that is being shed now in Gaza by Israeli tanks and missiles makes no difference to us, we are sure to have crossed the last line that defines us, all of us, peoples of the world as one human community.