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War on Gaza: The world has abandoned us. What can we do?

Palestinians must start discussing radical solutions to end Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism
Relatives of Eyad Hegazi, a 10-year-old Palestinian child who died of malnutrition as a result of Israel's siege on Gaza, mourn outside the Aqsa Martyrs hospita in Gaza on 14 June, 2024 (AFP)

The bitter reality for Palestinians in Gaza is that we are alone, beleaguered, under siege, and abandoned even by those who are supposed to be our brethren. 

Nearly nine months of barbaric massacres have claimed the lives of more than 37,000 Palestinians, many of whom are women and children. The victims have included doctors and nurses on duty in hospitals, university students, and people doing household chores. 

Entire families have been slaughtered in broad daylight, amid Israel’s systematic destruction of thousands of homes in Gaza. Another 10,000 people are missing, believed to be dead and buried under the rubble.

And yet, the US still blames Palestinians, while criticising international courts for trying to hold Israel to account for its ongoing genocide.  

Palestinians have been left alone to defend themselves against the onslaught of a state backed by the world’s biggest army. The US has supplied Israel with billions of dollars in weaponry, including bombs and fighter jets, to prolong its war. 

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Meanwhile, the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza has reached unimaginable levels. The few remaining hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of injured civilians. Neighbouring Arab regimes have done nothing more than issue timid statements of condemnation, while mediating between oppressor and oppressed. 

Indeed, Arab regimes have let Palestinians down since 1948, through a combination of cowardice and hypocrisy. They have failed to bring an end to Israel’s 17-year siege on Gaza, or even to offer meaningful solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are at the receiving end of Israel’s brutal military offensive.

Aiding the oppressor

From Gaza, we wonder how, in the absence of democracy, the timid expressions of support in the streets and capitals of Arab nations can be turned into concrete action. We wonder whether the Arab peoples living under the rule of authoritarian regimes can change those regimes in nonviolent ways. 

We have exhausted ourselves trying to figure out the possible ways of achieving democratic political change. As the Gaza genocide drags on, we have not seen any practical translation by Arab states of the solidarity shown by some of their peoples with Palestine.

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South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” 

Once again, the international community, United Nations, European Union and Arab leaders have remained largely silent about Israel’s ongoing atrocities. This puts them on Israel’s side. 

From Rafah, to Nuseirat, to Jabalia ... we have reached a pivotal moment in Palestinian history. Gaza yearns for a leadership that rises to the occasion

Thousands of corpses of women and children have failed to convince them of the need to act. Palestinians have realised that they have only one tenable option: popular power, which is the only force capable of tackling the huge asymmetry of power in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

For the past 17 years, the two choices for Palestinians in Gaza have been to die slowly amid Israel’s suffocating blockade, or to fight for dignity - their own and that of future generations. Many have chosen to fight, departing from years of self-deception that portrayed subjugation to the occupier as a fait accompli.

In this context, proposed ceasefire initiatives do not take into account Israel’s objectives in the Gaza war: eliminating the largest number of Palestinians possible by targeting civilian homes and infrastructure, and removing any potential source of resistance to Israeli occupation in the open-air extermination camp we know as Gaza.

Root causes

Instead, the initiatives that have been put forward equate Palestinian resistance with the Israeli regime of systematic oppression, apartheid and settler-colonialism. It seems as though the world expects Palestinians to simply accept their slow death without any form of rebellion.

But Palestinians, in Gaza and elsewhere, will not oblige.

Any agreement that does not lead to an immediate ceasefire, the lifting of Israel’s devastating blockade, and the permanent reopening of all border crossings in a manner that allows the entry of fuel, medicine and other basic goods, will not be acceptable to the people of Gaza. The deal must also provide for the withdrawal of Israeli forces without delay.

War on Gaza: Why Arab states are failing the Palestinian people
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The current war cannot be seen in isolation from the root causes of the situation in Gaza: Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise, occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. This conflict must be situated within our demand for the Palestinian right of return to the lands from which hundreds of thousands were driven out in 1948. Two-thirds of the people of Gaza are refugees who have this right under international law.

From Rafah, to Nuseirat, to Jabalia and the rest of Gaza, we have reached a pivotal moment in Palestinian history. Gaza yearns for a leadership that rises to the occasion, recognising the idea of Palestine from the river to the sea. 

Any talk of improving our conditions of oppression - and even this is seen as too much for us - in light of the great sacrifices that have been made, is a betrayal of Gaza’s martyrs. We need to start discussing radical solutions to move beyond the status quo, and adopt a clear slogan: End the occupation, end apartheid, and end settler-colonialism. If this happens, all the lives lost in Gaza would not have been lost in vain.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Dr Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.
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