MEMORIES of last month’s savage assault by Israel targeting Gaza had not yet faded when earlier this week news flashed that Tel Aviv had once again bombed the Palestinian enclave. This time the ‘justification’ used by the Israeli military machine was that Hamas, the armed movement and political group that rules Gaza, had sent incendiary balloons into the Jewish state. Hamas, meanwhile, said it had resorted to the move in reaction to a provocative march on Tuesday in which extremist Jews had marched close to Jerusalem’s Muslim quarter shouting ‘death to Arabs’ to observe so-called Jerusalem Day, which celebrates Israel’s 1967 occupation of the holy city. Israeli police had facilitated the far-right marchers by violently clearing the path of protesting Palestinians; over 30 Arab demonstrators were injured by the police.

The fact is that an Israeli government that bears great animus towards the Palestinians and influential, racist far-right Jewish groups form a toxic combination that does everything possible to make the lives of the Arabs incredibly difficult. And when Palestinians react to these unbearable conditions and violent provocations, they are accused of threatening the security of Israel, paving the way for Tel Aviv’s brutal military to butcher the Palestinians. While Israel talks of neutralising Hamas, in the last violent episode in Gaza over half the total deaths were of civilians, many of them children, as per UN figures. But unfortunately, Palestinian lives appear to be cheap, with few in the global community having the courage to take Israel to task for this frequent murder of non-combatants. Those who were thinking that there might be a change in Israeli tactics with Benjamin Netanyahu’s exit have been proved wrong. Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister, has signalled that he is equally willing to spill Palestinian blood. Multilateral bodies, the self-declared champions of human rights in the West and the ever-inert states of the Muslim world must all be asked if the Palestinians have to face death and ignominy for eternity.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2021

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