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Israel-Palestine war: Israel's urge for revenge is aimed at all Palestinians

As the threat of a second Nakba looms large, the West is shamefully turning a blind eye
People mourn a Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces near Beita village, during his funeral in Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on 15 October 2023 (AFP)

The past two weeks have shown how easily the western world turns its back on Palestinians in times of crisis. 

What unfolded in southern Israel on 7 October was horrific. We are all against the killing of civilians. But while the West has shown solidarity with the Israeli victims, it has remained appallingly silent over - and even encouraged - the crimes being committed against Palestinians in Gaza.

Across historic Palestine, all Palestinians feel as though we are being held responsible and paying the price for Israel’s failure to maintain security along the Gaza fence. From 1948 communities to Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, we feel we are being targeted on the basis of our identity.

All we hear are western countries giving their full support to Israel, which is using this cover to commit crimes, arrest people and violate the human rights of Palestinians anywhere in the country.

I live in Jerusalem. Palestinians here do not feel safe anymore. Tensions hang heavy, even just in the way people look at each other.

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When you walk the streets of Jerusalem, you don’t see people anymore. You see police and private security forces. 

Increasing numbers of civilians have been carrying guns in the streets, and even in shopping malls, where some Israelis were armed with M16s. This comes after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir decided to hand out thousands of guns and to ease the conditions for purchasing weapons.

In one case, a group of armed Israelis stopped a Palestinian man, ripped a baby seat from his car and dropped it in the street, and then searched his vehicle. The Israeli state has given them implicit permission for this type of harassment. 

Trapped at home

Many of my friends from occupied East Jerusalem no longer go to work. Some have been beaten. The army can stop you on a whim and check your mobile phone; if they find a song about Palestine or a post about Gaza, they can confiscate your device, beat you and arrest you.

It feels as though we’re living on a military base. In several locations, cement blocks have been placed at the exits of Palestinian neighbourhoods. 

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The stress level is extremely high. I don’t leave the house anymore, unless I have to travel to report a story. Palestinians feel as though we’ve all been deemed guilty overnight. 

Armed groups of settlers and private militia forces will stop you on the streets if you look Palestinian. None of us want to leave our homes, not even to get groceries or see a doctor. 

Extremist Israelis are urging others to kill their Arab neighbours, including women, children and babies

We don’t even feel safe speaking our own language anymore. Palestinian friends in the streets will speak Hebrew or English; they don’t dare to speak Arabic in public. Many people have been fired or suspended from their jobs just for showing solidarity with Gaza.

There are two million Palestinian citizens of Israel. On Tuesday, Israel’s police chief, Kobi Shabtai, had this to say: “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome - I’ll put them on buses that will send them there.”

We are terrified that we could be physically attacked at any time. Extremist Israelis are urging others to kill their Arab neighbours, including women, children and babies. My friends have found their photos and other details posted on social media groups that have been established to target Palestinians. It is a collective call for revenge. We cannot feel secure in this environment.

Calls for genocide

The speed at which this fascism has spread through the country is stunning. I have always believed there is a common space where Israelis and Palestinians can come together and work towards peace. But the transformation in recent days has been overwhelming. People who once described themselves as Israeli leftists are now calling to wipe out Gaza.

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It feels as though the whole state is now baying for genocide. This is the type of language we are hearing from politicians, celebrities, academics and ordinary people. Many feel that Israel is working towards a second Nakba - and the world is doing nothing to stop it. Israelis are crossing red lines and using the current situation to promote apartheid, ethnic cleansing and a second Nakba.

Across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, at least 69 Palestinians have been killed in the past 13 days. Palestinians are being attacked by settlers; the police and army do nothing to protect them. Instead, Palestinians face mass arrests if they dare to show support for Gaza.

The situation is terrifying. We are entering a new era that feels even worse than military rule.

In Gaza, more than 4,000 people have been killed in Israel’s bombardment - including more than 1,500 children - while thousands more have been injured. Gaza City has been destroyed. People are struggling to meet their basic needs: water, electricity and medical care. Pregnant mothers are in crisis. Children are being left in hospitals with no one to pick them up, because their parents have been killed.

And still, the West supports and arms Israel. We are seeing western racism in all its cruelty, as Palestinian lives are deemed inherently less valuable. The worst horror is the silence and complicity of the West in Israel’s unspeakable massacres.

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

Lubna Masarwa is a journalist and Middle East Eye’s Palestine and Israel bureau chief, based in Jerusalem.
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