We are not witnessing a conflict. We are not witnessing a war. We are witnessing the Israeli apartheid state commit a violent occupation, genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population.
The ongoing narratives surrounding Israel and Palestine have long been characterised by global media as the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” — a protracted series of “territorial disputes” spanning over seven and a half decades.
The most recent “escalation,” that commenced on Monday 9 October 2023, has garnered large scale media coverage. Both mainstream news outlets and various social media platforms have been ceaselessly producing reports and disseminating information on the dynamics of the enduring “conflict”.
By the end of October as the hostilities unfold, the stark death toll emerges: Almost 10,000 Palestinians when compared to 1,400 Israelis killed.
It becomes abundantly clear that this crisis transcends the contours of a mere “conflict”; what we bear witness to is not just the result of a series of “territorial disputes”, but rather the exacerbation of ongoing violent occupation and the harrowing genocide of the Palestinian population.
It’s time to call it out as it is.
“The Israeli- Palestinian Conflict”
Israel’s Violent Occupation of Palestine
To label it as a conflict is to assume that there is a balanced struggle between two evenly matched forces. This is a gross misrepresentation of reality, and is far from the truth.
Israel stands as the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid, having received a total of $150 billion USD over the years. With this funding, Israel has pursued its colonial efforts through the establishment of illegal settlements that have resulted in Palestine’s violent dispossession.
These pursuits have deprived Palestinians of basic human rights, particularly those living in the West Bank and Gaza regions. Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, over 4.2 million acres of Palestinian land have been forcibly taken.
In 2022 alone, Israel spent $23.4 billion on its military. As one of the world’s largest military superpowers, Israel possesses cutting-edge weaponry, including the advanced Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept incoming rockets.
Though this arsenal is ostensibly deployed by Israel in the name of national defence and security, it serves, in reality, to continue their colonial efforts.
Meanwhile, Palestinians find themselves victim of mass displacement and genocide, a situation lamented by Palestinian communities as a contemporary iteration of the ‘nakba’ or ‘catastrophe’.
“It’s a Religious War”
On Monday 9 October, the Opera House in Sydney became the focal point of protests marred by the dissemination of reprehensible anti-Semitic remarks that came from a small group of fringe actors, causing significant distress within the Jewish community.
Disturbingly, these protests took a retaliatory turn with Islamophobic sentiments directed towards Muslim communities. It is imperative that we establish: this is NOT a religious war.
Israeli and Palestinian communities encompass diverse religious groups including Muslim, Jewish and Christian people. Therefore, it’s essential that we remind ourselves to remain critical of discourses that characterise the situation as a religious conflict or war.
When discussing the topic, we must acknowledge that religion is not a focal point, and to foster respectful dialogue and understanding.
Palestinians are enduring a situation marked by ethnic cleansing, under an apartheid system imposed by Israel. This sees the denial of Palestinian land rights and the deprivation of the most fundamental human rights including access to water, shelter food, and freedom of movement.
According to Amnesty International, Palestinians are subjected to discriminatory laws imposed by the Israeli government, systematically dispossessing them of their homes and lands.
The contentious “Nation-State Law”, enacted in 2018, explicitly delineates the preferential treatment granted to Israeli-Jewish citizens over Palestinians and Arabs.
Such disproportionate treatment and institutionalised discrimination cast a shadow on the legitimacy of Israel as an apartheid state, perpetuating Israel’s violent colonial pursuits in Palestine.
“Palestine and Israel are at war”
Israel is committing genocide and ethnic cleansing
According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Commentaries, international humanitarian laws strictly forbid indiscriminate attacks against specific groups of people.
Notably, these conventions denounce the use of white phosphorus munitions in such attacks — a practice attributed to Israel in its assaults on innocent civilians in the Gaza strip.
Israel is bound by the stipulations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as it signed and ratified it in 1951.
The United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as a set of crimes committed with the deliberate intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, either wholly or partially.
On Monday 9 October, the Israeli Defense Minister publicly declared that Israeli authorities would sever the supply of essentials to Gaza, including water and access to internet, stating that they are fighting “human animals”.
He also threatened to “bomb” those attempting to provide assistance. On 17 October, Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza city was bombed, killing more than 500 people that were being treated and hosted by the hospital.
Israel’s indiscriminate attacks have included the deployment of explosive weapons, comprising more than 10,000 bombs, some of which included white phosphorus, and rockets aimed at Gaza.
These acts constitute war crimes with the intent of ethnic cleansing and committing genocide of the Palestinian population. The besieged enclave of Gaza is renowned for being one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
On Sunday 15 October, Israel advised Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate following routes outlined by Israeli occupation forces. Regrettably, even during evacuation attempts, Israel did not cease its use of airstrikes and rockets, resulting in the tragic death of 70 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, who sought to escape the perilous situation in Gaza.
In the midst of the ongoing crisis, it is crucial to acknowledge that both Israeli and Palestinian innocent civilians have tragically lost their lives.
However, this was never an equal conflict between two warring nations. It is important to comprehensively examine the 75-year long history marked by recurring patterns of Israel’s violent colonial pursuits which have systematically denied Palestinians of their most basic of human rights, precipitating one of the largest humanitarian crises to date.
Calls to Action:
From attending protests to reading independent resources of news and opinions about the crisis, there are plenty of things you can do to help.
- Contact the Premier of NSW and write to your State and Federal MPs: You can voice your concerns by reaching out to your representatives, urging them to recognise the Palestinian crisis. recognise the crisis and how it has affected Palestinians. Contact information can be found here.
- Participate in Protests: Most protests in NSW are run by the Palestine Action Group. You can attend the ongoing protests to show your solidarity for the Palestinian community.
- Combat misinformation: Contribute to the dissemination of accurate information by sharing, posting, or reading content provided by Palestinians on social media. They are sharing their narratives and revealing the realities on the ground that mainstream media fails to expose. Ensure you use trigger warnings when needed. Also, be cautious of potential shadow bans initiated by platforms like Meta; consider taking screenshots of content and resharing it to avoid such bans.
- Offer support: You can donate money or your time in support of a number of local advocacy organisations as well as international appeals. There are plenty of online appeals for medical relief and advocacy networks that may not just require monetary donations but could benefit from your time and support. A list of Australian organisations and networks that you can support can be found here.
- Boycott: Join, support and amplify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to exert pressure on companies and organisations that have connections with apartheid Israel. The aim is to encourage them to sever ties and empower the Palestinian plight to freedom.