The latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has prompted several European countries and the US to reaffirm their position of unwavering support for the aggressor. William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary, Cathy Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, and Barack Obama, have all claimed that Hamas’s rockets were responsible for the crisis and that it is the right of Israel to defend its citizens. Had they checked the facts, they would have realised Israel started the attacks. The escalation started when an Israeli military incursion into Gaza on 8 November killed a Palestinian child. That was followed by other Israeli incursions and attacks, provoking a response by Palestinian factions.
Despite that, there were serious efforts to calm the situation and reach a truce. But clearly Israel had another agenda. By targeting Ahmed al-Jabari, leader of the al-Qassam Brigade, it sabotaged Egyptian efforts to conclude a truce between all Palestinian factions and the Israelis. This was confirmed by Egypt’s president on Saturday.
With the approach of the Israeli elections, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, wanted to trade with the blood of the Palestinians, especially after his alliance with the ultra-extremist Avigdor Lieberman failed to boost his popularity in the polls as he’d expected. This is not the first time the Israelis have launched a war for electoral gain. Shimon Peres did it to Lebanon in 1996 and the Olmert-Livni-Barak alliance did it to Gaza in 2008. What is important here is the immoral and short-sighted stance of the European and US governments; they have misconstrued the facts and displayed complete partiality in favour of the aggressor.
The western position has given political cover to the Israeli aggression and encouraged its leadership to continue their attacks. Thus, in the eyes of our people and those of the entire region, western countries are complicit. European governments, in contrast to their peoples whose majority support Palestinian rights, have demonstrated their double standards and hypocrisy again.
The human rights that Europe claims to defend all over the world are denied to the Palestinian people. European governments have done nothing while 1.7 million Gazans have been subjected for the past five years to an Israeli blockade – denying them food, water, medicine and even determining how many calories they should be allowed each day.
The right of people to resist occupation and confront aggression is guaranteed to all peoples; but if Palestinians seek to exercise this right it immediately becomes terrorism and for this they must be persecuted.
The Israeli military attacks on Gaza did not stop after the last Gaza war. Since 2009, 271 Palestinians have been killed, compared to three Israeli deaths. In the last few days more than 700 Palestinians have been killed or injured – more than half of them women or children. Yesterday 12 people from same family were massacred.
But Israeli aggression is not just against Gaza. It has continued its confiscation of Palestinian land, and expulsions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, despite the efforts of PLO leaders to achieve peace agreements. It has multiplied the number of settlements since the 1993 Oslo accords tenfold. Even after they got rid of Arafat, Israel has given nothing. Now Lieberman wants to get rid of Abu Mazen, president of the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas has decided to defend the rights of its people with a measure of deterrence against one of the most well-equipped (and western-funded) armies. As the world refuses to defend Palestinians, we will defend ourselves. Our people have the right to self-defence and we will not die in silence anymore.
Hamas may not be able to defeat Israel but we can stand firm against it, and paralyse life in a significant part of the country. This is the right of any free people. Gaza and Hamas are not alone, and the enemies of Israel are increasing. The Arab world is changing. The Palestinian people today see in Hamas hope and leadership.
Israel has embarked on an adventure it has not calculated properly. It must now bear the consequences. A truce will be on Hamas’s terms, not Israel’s. The first of these will be to lift the oppressive blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Musa Abumarzuq is deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau.