“Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts.” —Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey.
Erdogan said this in reaction to the treatment of Gaza citizens, especially children, during the latest standoff between Israel and Palestine. And I have to agree with him.
In reaction to the killing of a Hamas military leader, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets towards Israel. Israel responded by bombing the Gaza strip, amassing troops on the border, and threatening a land invasion. Rockets and bombs were launched on both sides for several days. Palestinian casualties numbered in the dozens, while Israeli’s causalities could be counted on two hands.
The two sides are not evenly matched, which was made painfully clear during the latest bout of rocket fire. The majority of the rockets Palestinians launched were destroyed before they had a chance to hit their targets due to Israel’s advanced missile defense system known as the Iron Dome. Israel’s bombs and rockets struck homes for the most part, in one case killing three generations of Palestinians while they were in their home.
Rocket fire and the worry of full-out warfare seem to be a constant state of life in the region. And since Israel’s creation in 1948 there have been a number of full-scale wars, with casualties numbering in the thousands. The main cause of these wars was, to begin with, anger from the Palestinians who had inhabited the area before 1948. They were angry that their homeland had been given to someone else, with no thought of the people who already lived there and called it home.
Of course, both sides do claim ownership and rights to the land, and have for thousands of years. Jerusalem, for instance, is the holy city for three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There have been wars in the area for thousands of years, and from the looks of it, peace will be hard to find in the coming years.
The latest incident is much like the others, but also different. To me, the whole thing felt staged. Israel obviously has the military strength and technology to pinpoint where they want to strike. Just look at how easily they killed Ahmed al-Jabari, a top Hamas military leader. The Israeli Defense Forces targeted al-Jabari while he was in a car. Was there any precedent behind such an attack? Not really. Hamas was once considered to be a terrorist organization, but has, in recent years, transformed itself into some form of political party, speaking for the people of Gaza and all Palestinians, and hadn’t been militant until recently. Yes, al-Jabari was gaining influence and power, but there was no clear reason for the Israeli attack, other than to eliminate a military leader whose power was growing.
Hamas responded, as I think any independent nation would respond upon a sudden attack, by firing missiles at Israel. They were defending themselves from the tyranny of an exponentially more powerful regime. And instead of responding with a diplomatic, intelligent counter, or even an apology or an explanation, Israel bombed the shit out of Gaza.
There was no reason for this. It wasn’t a well-planned invasion by a coalition of troops similar to the full-scale wars in the past. It wasn’t a terrorist activity, at least not on Hamas’s end of things. It was simply Israel showing the Palestinians that they were still in control and could sweep in at any time and raze Gaza to the ground, destroying homes and killing thousands. But it was also a chance for Israel to rile up the Palestinians and encourage them to launch rockets, which would, in turn, be a great opportunity to test Israel’s new missile defense system. Guess what? The Iron Dome works, and now that Israel knows that their system works, a ceasefire has been signed.
According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, terrorism is defined as “ an act of terrorizing, continued over an extended period of time.” Let me ask what is more terrifying: being able to do nothing while bombs are dropped on your homes, or sitting behind an iron dome, watching as the missiles headed your way are destroyed before they strike? Is it more terrifying to be shoved into ghettoes and treated like shit than to live with all your contemporary technologies, with access to clean water, healthcare, and schooling?
Palestinians are fighting for survival every single day of their lives. They are being terrorized in ways that the Western world hasn’t seen since Hitler’s Final Solution or Apartheid in South Africa. Israel is a terrorist state, and it saddens me that the world would rather watch than stop it. Lest we forget—fuck that, we forgot long ago. Shame on us all.