It is Gaza again! But it is different this time! Instead of reacting to one of apartheid Israel’s regular genocidal attacks, the resistance movements have taken the “first” step in an unprecedented move.
Instead of waiting for Israel’s “generosity” when it decides, through mediators, to open one of the seven gates of the largest open-air prisons on earth, the inmates – having learned from the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 – decided to bring it down themselves.
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The deadly medieval siege that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007 – supported by the European Union and the United States – along with recurrent genocidal wars launched by Israel are an attempt to make the Palestinians of Gaza disappear – albeit slowly and painfully.
No more! Enough is enough.
The resistance movements in Gaza, right and left, have decided to turn the table upside down. They have given the Palestinian struggle a new impetus, a clear direction towards liberation and decolonisation.
A truncated Palestinian history
To understand the events of today, it is important to remember the context of the Palestinian struggle of the past 30 years. The decision by the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to do what used to be unthinkable – coexist with Zionism – led to the disastrous Oslo Accords which, in effect, truncated Palestinian history.
The Naksa – the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza the Golan Heights and the Sinai desert in 1967 became separate from the Nakba – the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
The focus became the occupation and not the settler colonialism that stood behind it, while “peace negotiations” served as a cover for Israeli violence and the continued dispossession of the Palestinians.
As Israeli historian Ilan Pappe maintains in his book The Biggest Prison on Earth: “Israeli strategists discovered that if you want to implement ethnic cleansing by other means, the alternative to expulsion is not to allow people to leave the place where they live – and thus they can be excluded from the democratic balance of power. They are contained inside their own areas, but do not have to be counted in the overall national demographics since they cannot freely move, develop or expand, nor do they have any basic civil and human rights.”
Apartheid Israel has made it absolutely clear that since it cannot get rid of us completely, we must become its slaves, people without any rights.
The majority of Israeli Jews support the genocidal policy of their governments because, as Zionists living in apartheid Israel, they are indoctrinated into believing that they are entitled to certain privileges that must be denied to the indigenous population of the land.
In 1948, to implement this racist ideology, ethnic cleansing was the solution. And in 1967, enslavement became the only option.
In the face of this reality, Palestinians have reached common ground on the enemy being settler colonialism, but they have failed to agree on how decolonisation should be understood and achieved.
In recent years, there has been a radical shift in the strategic thinking on this point, one that looks at Israeli-Palestinian relations within the framework of settler colonialism and apartheid.
True liberation within this context means achieving true equality in historic Palestine after the return of all Palestinian refugees to the towns and villages from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948.
A vision of liberation
No wonder Gaza has decided to take this unprecedented move. Two-thirds of Gazans are refugees entitled to their right of return in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948.
It is rumoured that the resistance fighters who managed to enter Sderot are the grandsons of refugees from the village of Huj, which was ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias in 1948 and renamed Sderot. Others are from the village of Hirbya, renamed Zikim by the Israelis.
They have dared to do the “unthinkable,” i.e., return, not as visitors granted permission by the coloniser but as liberators upholding their right to their ancestral land.
This radical act of return points to the post-Zionist future we should envision that will bring liberation to all.
Liberation for us means dismantling the structures of Zionist settler colonialism and apartheid and addressing the inequalities and injustices it has inflicted on us, the indigenous population of Palestine, over the past 100 years.
Liberation for us aims to transform the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis into one based on total equality and justice. The settler society is expected to abandon all colonial privileges and display real willingness to accept responsibility for past crimes and injustices. The compromise that indigenous Palestinians are expected to offer is to accept settlers as equal citizens in the new state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
This is the path to peace and security, and the international community, which has long accepted Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians and has even been complicit in them, will have to embrace it.
Having learned nothing from history, US President Joe Biden made it clear the day Palestinian fighters crossed through the barbed wire to Israel that he is fully behind Israel, giving its army the green light to commit more war crimes against the civilians of Gaza.
Three days after the start of the resistance inside 1948 Palestine, Israel has killed more than 770 people in Gaza, including 140 children, and injured 4,000. More than 180,000 people have had to flee their homes as their neighbourhoods have been viciously targetted by Israeli war planes; I am one of them.
Leaders like Biden would do well to remember Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire’s words: “With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? … There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation. Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as people – not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized.”
In Gaza and Jenin, we refuse to march to Israel’s death chambers like sheep. In Gaza and Jenin – in fact, in all of historic Palestine – we have made it absolutely clear that we will resist the settler, colonial, apartheid regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
And we expect the international community to support our struggle for justice and freedom in exactly the same way as it has supported the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion.
The double standards we have seen have convinced us that it is our duty as Palestinians to create the political space for our liberation where none has been afforded to us.
We cannot compromise on our basic rights, including the right to self-determination and the right of return. We have a clear path towards liberation that strays away from the facade of talking independence and camouflaged racist solutions.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.