Once again the sirens blared and fighter jets thundered overhead, dropping bombs in the encircled open-air prison of Gaza. Disproportionate and deadly force is once again being used to respond to the struggle of Palestinians who were accused of sending across ‘arson balloons’. The airstrikes, launched in Khan Yunis and Gaza on Wednesday were the first after the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet took over. Israel pursues as a state policy, irrespective of who is elected in the Knesset, that the Palestinians will collectively be the target of heavy military firepower as a “response” to any reaction from suspected militants.
For long, former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu had been the face of and the driving force of aggression against the Palestinians as the Jewish courts rubber-stamped his campaign to illegally evict Palestinians from their homes. While there was little hope from Bennet to reverse the course given his ultra far right-leaning views, the fear that he would instead step up the campaign started by Netanyahu could prove to be true. Israeli protesters continue to fill the streets of Jerusalem calling for the blood of Palestinians.
If anything, the ceasefire announced by Israel after 11 days of intense bombing of Gaza which saw 260 Palestinians killed and dozens thrown out of their homes in several localities in and around Jerusalem — including Sheikh Jarrah — has proven to be a short summer break in the Israeli campaign. The international outrage has been batted away by a change of face and brutalisation, as usual, has resumed in Palestine.
For the international community, the matter has now, of course, gone beyond just protecting innocent people from harm on both sides. The question now is whether anyone has a right to self-defence or what is the extent to which disproportionate force can be used. It is imperative that the global community come together and concertedly work on the two-state solution and clear that all have the right to self-defence.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20h, 2021.