By Simon Elder
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
W. H. Auden
Here are ten questions everyone should try to answer before adding their unconditional or qualified support to the genocide being perpetrated in Gaza, and which UK politicians, journalists and Zionists have refused even to ask, let alone to answer.
This article is my attempt to answer them.
What is Gaza?
We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed. We are fighting against human animals and we are acting accordingly.”
Yoav Gallant, Israel Minister for Defence (9 October, 2023)
In 1948, Palestinians fleeing the Nakba fled to the Gaza Strip, whose borders were fixed by the armistice between Israel and Egypt in 1949. Initially administered as a protectorate of Egypt, Gaza was subsequently occupied by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War. To encourage Palestinians to emigrate, Israel began to consider and perhaps impose restrictions on Gaza’s access to water. Between 1967 and 2005, Israel established 21 settlements in Gaza that together occupied 20 per cent of its already limited territory. In 1987, on the 20th anniversary of the occupation, the First Intifada launched a series of protests, civil disobedience, strikes against Israeli employers, boycotts of Israeli institutions and the withholding of taxes. In 1994, following the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Gaza’s administration was taken over by the State of Palestine, which also exercised partial authority over areas in the West Bank. However, Israel retained control over Gaza’s borders, airspace and territorial waters, which it began to enclose in a militarised border barrier.
Although Israel describes Gaza as a de facto independent state, it maintains direct external control over the Strip and indirect control over life within it. In addition to Gaza’s air and maritime space, Israel also controls six of Gaza’s seven border crossings, only one of which was still open in October 2023, and it reserves and exercises the right for its military, the Israel Defense Forces, to enter Gaza at will. Israel maintains a buffer zone within the already limited territory of Gaza, which in 2010 it expanded to 300 meters, and on which newly-built Palestinian homes are regularly bulldozed. Farmers who try to cultivate the land are gunned down by Israeli Defence Forces. Palestinians, who are effectively imprisoned in the Gaza Strip, are dependent on the State of Israel for water, electricity, gas, telecommunications and other utilities, and the population is not free to leave or enter, or to import or export goods freely. As a result of this blockade, the Gaza Strip, with a population of 2.3 million people on 365 square kilometres of land in which 17 per cent is off limits to Palestinians, is the third most densely populated political authority in the world, and 70 per cent of its inhabitants live below the poverty line.
In December 2021, Israel announced the completion of the enhanced militarised barrier by which its blockade of Gaza is maintained. This runs 65 kilometres (40 miles) around the Gaza Strip and out into the Mediterranean Sea. The double-walled barrier cost US$1.1 billion to construct, extends 6 metres above ground and an undeclared number of metres below ground to block tunnels, and is armed with antennas, cameras, radars and a sea barrier. Watchtowers every 2 kilometres are equipped with remote-controlled machine guns, and motion sensors are inserted into the fence and the ground beyond. As a result of the buffer zone on the Gazan side of this barrier, 35 per cent of arable land and 85 per cent of fishing waters along the Gaza coast are off-limits to Palestinians. Under rules of engagement for Israeli soldiers, any Palestinian in this buffer zone, whether on land or sea, is shot on sight.
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The Israel Minister for Defence, Yoav Gallant, a former commando in Israel’s special forces accused of war crimes committed during the 2008 assault on Gaza, has described the Palestinians imprisoned in the Gaza Strip as ‘human animals’, and the UK and other states of the West have raised no objection to this dehumanising rhetoric. Even before the current crisis and the war crimes it has sanctioned, the Government of Israel, led by the former special forces captain, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been Prime Minister of Israel for 19 of the last 27 years, was the most Right-wing and religious in Israel’s history. But under the cover of the unlikely attack by Hamas, the three-man War Cabinet — which is completed by Benny Gantz, a former General in the Israel Defense Forces who also has a record of war crimes — and which has complete control over the operations of the Israel Defence Forces, is now waging what Adolf Hitler, when describing the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, called ‘Vernichtungskrieg’ — a war of extermination — against the 2,375,000 ‘human animals’ trapped in Gaza.
How did we get here? How did we get to this moment where the Jews setting policy for the State of Israel, many of whom are sons and daughters of survivors and victims of the Shoah, as well as their Zionist apologists in the UK, are now speaking and behaving exactly like the Nazis that killed so many of their own people, while at the same time describing their victims as themselves ‘Nazis’?