Collective punishment in Gaza

Rashid Khalidi writes: Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence. This is not new. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “Collective punishment in Gaza

  1. hquain

    Khalidi is absolutely right to speak of “Hamas” and “tunnels” as pretexts, but he may be stopping short by thinking in terms of punishment, which may itself be a pretext. The goal of destroying civil infrastructure is mortality. The Israelis cannot inflict, in full public view, the tens of thousands of casualties that are necessary to achieve their aims. (I’m sure some social scientist has calculated the required number.) But disease can. I’m sure it’s understood that a subject population can’t be held down forever; it follows that expulsion — let’s call it ‘voluntary departure’ — is the only path to permanent security.

  2. Paul Woodward

    Expulsion to where? Egypt? Not while Sisi is the ruler — nor much chance of any future Egyptian government welcoming the population of Gaza.

    I think it’s a mistake to imagine that the fact that Israel is deploying so much destructive force also implies that it has a grand design. I suspect that if we were privy to the discussions taking place in Netanyahu’s war cabinet right now, we might be shocked to discover how little sense of direction its deliberations revealed.

    Today’s air strikes on Gaza’s power plant probably implies that Israel is rapidly running out of targets.

  3. Eddy Mason

    You’re right Paul, to assume that rational thought is prevalent within Netty Yahoo’s war cabinet is a bit like rationalising Bush’s plan for Iraq after the invasion was complete. These people are not clever, they are political!

Comments are closed.