Over the last several days the western news cycle has erupted with coverage of the allegedly unprovoked attack against Israel by Palestinian resistance groups such as Hamas. For those that aren’t in the know, let’s take a look at what is actually happening, and why.
On the morning of Saturday, October 7th, Mohammad Deif, the military leader of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, emerged alongside the group’s spokesman Abu-Obaida to declare the beginning of an offensive dubbed “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”. A military campaign by land, sea, and air by numerous factions of Palestinian militants targeting various key locations in Israel and resulting in an abrupt onslaught of rocket barrages and ground fighting to kick off the offensive.
In response to the attacks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Israel to be at war, immediately mobilizing the Israeli defense force and mounting counterattacks.
At the time of this writing the conflict continues to rage on, with hundreds dead and hundreds more wounded on both sides as the fighting continues to intensify.
As my previous reporting has demonstrated, up to this point American mass media and even western mainstream media in general has been wholly unreliable at producing objective, fact based, contextualized news with regard to its foreign policy and that of its allies. Favoring instead a kind of yellow journalism and blatant propaganda sympathetic to the agendas of the military-industrial complex and the worlds ruling class.
With that being the case a proper explainer is in order.
Since the outset of the conflict social media has been awash with official statements and hot takes from politicians, pundits, and civilians alike. Some good, some bad. The former being well thought out, pragmatic and rational, with the latter being reactionary and unhinged, sometimes bordering on outright psychotic.
However pursuant to our aims here in this piece we will push that cacophony to the side, and instead focus on attempting to cut through the noise to layout the facts as to why the current conflict is taking place.
Anyone who has opened an American newspaper or turned on an American news channel over the past several years and paid a moderate degree of attention has probably heard mention of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the age old conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. Even if you paid no attention beyond that point and have no understanding of the nuanced details you have at least heard of it.
Let’s assume you don’t have any understanding of the root causal factors behind the hostilities, where does it all begin?
Well historically one could say it stretches back thousands of years to the time of the Bible when the Israelites claimed that land as their own and “the word of God” affirmed it to be the “Holy Land” of “God’s chosen people”. Conversely Muslims lay claim to it as well, with Palestinian Arabs being the indigenous inhabitants of the region and Islam recognizing the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to be the holy site where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. Whereas in Judaism the same site is recognized as holy for being the site of Abraham’s binding of Isaac and later where the Temple of Solomon once stood.
But it will suffice to fast forward a couple millennia to get to the point.
Unfortunately the fanatical religious fervor of both Muslims and Jews has played a key role in facilitating the regional tensions as one group or another attempts to assert their dominance because “God said it was okay”.
However fret not reader, here we will focus on matters of tangible reality rather than baseless debates of religious ideology. Only pausing to acknowledge this and this alone; no matter what religious belief one may hold, from an objectively moral standpoint that belief in and of itself does not justify the usage of aggression against others. Since to date it remains impossible to produce replicable empirical evidence of God’s existence, much less any command they may have issued, “because God said so” is not a sufficient excuse.
The roots of the current ongoing conflict can be traced back to the Zionist movement of the early 19th century. Zionism is an ultra nationalist religious/ political ideology that asserts a divine supremacy of the Jewish people and the right to return to the land of Zion (Palestine) to establish a secular Jewish homeland.
Throughout the years belief in Zionism has lead to acts of radical religious extremism, resulting in violent clashes on the Temple Mount including some of the more recent escalations that led to the current war. Such as the frequent raids by Israelis against peaceful worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, as Columbia University professor Joseph Massad elaborates in How Zionism Is Fueling A Religious War Over al-Aqsa Mosque.
In recent years many western pundits have put forth the assertion that anti Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism, however this is a blatant lie and not the case.
During the First World War (1914 to 1918) the area that is now Israel/ Palestine was under control of the Ottoman Empire. As encyclopedia Britannica explains, throughout the war Palestinians were led to believe by Great Britain that upon their victory they would be granted independence. However, by 1917 after a successful lobbying campaign by Zionists in London with the help of the Rothschild family and Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild specifically, the openly racist and anti-Semitic British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour put forth a declaration supporting the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. This was done not out of sympathy for the Jews, but rather to encourage Jews in both the United States and Russia into galvanizing further support for the war, and Britain’s postwar policies, as well as to further the agenda of expelling Jews out of Great Britain.
After the war, during the San Remo conference in April of 1920 the allied powers via the League of Nations carved up the former territory of the Ottoman Empire amongst themselves, during which they passed the Palestine mandate, placing Palestine under control of the British empire, who promptly appointed prominent Zionist Sir Herbert Louis Samuel as High Commissioner of the territory.
During this time the indigenous Arab population of Palestine attempted to mount multiple political objections to this seizing of territory, such as the Arab congress which attempted to put forth resolutions asserting the autonomy of Palestine, but were never formally recognized by the British and ultimately proved incapable of overcoming the political power of the empire.
In the years to come hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers migrated to the region, facilitated in part by harsh postwar anti-immigration laws in the US and western Europe, such as the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 in the United States, and expansions to the Alien Restrictions Act in 1919 and 1920 in Great Britain, and similar laws elsewhere which placed restrictive quotas on the amount of Jewish migrants allowed into the countries.
As the influx of migrants to Palestine continued to increase, so too did the evictions of Palestinian Arabs from their homes to make way for the new settlers. Further increasing antipathy as more and more Palestinians were kicked off of their land in order to accommodate the colonizers. Thus beginning the hostilities that still rage on to this day.
While violent clashes were few and far in between until this point, by the mid 1920s militant groups were arising on both sides of the conflict, though most of the decade remained relatively quiet until 1929 when clashes erupted in Jerusalem, Zefat and Hebron resulting in 250 dead and 570 more wounded.
By the mid 1930s as the Nazi party seized power in Germany and began enacting harsh anti Jewish policies it served as an impetus for Jewish immigration to Palestine, increasing the number of settlers by the tens of thousands and bringing tensions to a fever pitch.
Tensions finally boiled over in 1936 at the eruption of the Arab Revolt, a spontaneous uprising of both political and military action which led to general strikes and acts of civil disobedience as well as armed rebellion against Jewish settlements and British military installations over the course of the next three years as the Palestinian leadership declared their intent to retake their homeland.
By the autumn of 1939 the military might of the British Empire along with gangs of armed Zionist militants finally managed to put down the rebellion with a final toll on the Arab population of 1600 killed or captured and nearly as many wounded, with the majority of their leadership dead, imprisoned, or exiled, and a demoralized disarmed population now divided amongst itself.
However the outbreak of World War 2 in September of that same year presented a unique debacle for the British, as they would be unable to sustain a prolonged military conflict in Palestine should the hostilities continue while simultaneously preparing to face Hitler’s war machine in Europe. Ultimately leading the British to seek an uneasy peace to maintain regional stability, ceding some concessions to the Arabs while limiting Jewish migration. An act which angered the Zionists who felt as though their imperial protectors were abandoning them and the Jewish people as the horrors of the Holocaust began to unfold.
Throughout the war the conflict between Palestinians and Jewish settlers remained relatively calm, however Zionist militias began to break away from the Jewish authority and took to forming underground terrorist groups such as Lehi (לח”י – לוחמי חרות ישראל Lohamei Herut Israel – Lehi, “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – Lehi”) which began carrying out paramilitary operations against British forces throughout the war, attempting to ally with the axis powers. A move which serves as the cornerstone for Israel’s long sordid history of aligning itself with far right extremism.
In 1944 the groups formally began an insurgency against the British after declaring rebellion in February of that year. The insurrection was a bloody struggle complicated by infighting which by 1947 had devolved into a civil war following the announcement of the UN partition plan that lasted until the end of the British mandate. After which British forces withdrew and Israel made a formal declaration of independence in 1948, upon which time the conflict morphed into the Arab Israeli war.
May 15th, 1948, serves as the anniversary for one of the darkest periods in Palestinian history — Al-Nakba, “the catastrophe” in Arabic. Upon the establishment of the state of Israel, Zionists immediately began a campaign of brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs over the course of the next several years. Paramilitary groups spread throughout Palestine, capturing 78% of the territory, expelling Palestinians from their homes to make way for a vast expansion of Israeli settlements in violation of international law. Displacing an estimated 750,000 people as villages, towns, and entire cities were looted and destroyed, and thousands of citizens were subjected to abuses, including beatings and sexual assaults, as well as mass killings, with an estimated death toll of 15,000.
In 2019, an exposé by Israeli investigative reporter Hagar Shezaf for the Tel Aviv based outlet Haaretz titled Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs reveals previously classified documents outlining how the Israeli defense ministry underwent great lengths to cover up the extent of the expulsion of Palestinians and the atrocities committed to attempt to preserve the Israeli government’s “official version” of events.
Former head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense Security Authority Yehiel Horev, acknowledged to Haaretz that he was the official in charge of the program that led to the cover up. When asked what was the point of removing some of the documents that had already been published, according to Haaretz he explained;
“the objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the refugee problem. In Horev’s view, an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.”
Immediately following the expulsions, those that didn’t leave Palestine altogether fled to less occupied parts of the country, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Today over 2.1 million people live in Gaza, nearly half of them children. In the West Bank, the population exceeds 2.7 million.
For Palestinians, the decade following Al-Nakba throughout the 1950s saw little in the way of militaristic upheaval as the displaced population were focused on rebuilding their uprooted lives. Though some did undertake the organization of underground political and guerrilla groups such as the Palestine National Liberation Movement (Fatah), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and others which would later become active. While in the mean time in 1956 the Israelis went to war with Egypt in what would become known as the Suez Crisis.
In the West Bank the Jordanian monarchy saw the opportunity to expand their territorial reach, providing education and citizenship to the displaced peoples as they attempted to integrate them into their society, though this proved difficult due to social, economic, and political differences.
In Gaza however the circumstances were much different. The Gaza Strip was still under Egyptian military rule, as per an agreement in the Armistice between Israel and Egypt following the aforementioned Arab-Israeli war. Egyptian rule over the areas Palestinian inhabitants was generally repressive, and due to Egypt refusing to grant them citizenship the Palestinians of Gaza remained stateless.
Oftentimes those displaced had no other choice but to take up residence in refugee camps that were established by the United Nations starting in 1950, however the conditions were anything but hospitable. As encyclopedia Britannica explains;
“In May 1950 UNRWA established a total of 53 refugee “camps” on both sides of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Syria to assist the 650,000 or more Arab refugees it calculated needed help. Initially refugees in the improvised camps lived in tents, but after 1958 these were replaced by small houses of concrete blocks with iron roofs. Conditions were extremely harsh; often several families had to share one tent, and exposure to the extreme winter and summer temperatures inflicted additional suffering. Loss of home and income lowered morale. Although the refugees were provided with rent-free accommodations and basic services such as water, health care, and education (UNRWA ran both elementary and secondary schools in the camps, teaching more than 40,000 students by 1951), poverty and misery were widespread. Work was scarce, even though UNRWA sought to integrate the Palestinians into the depressed economies of the “host” countries.”
A New Generation
The 1960s saw the resurgence of a cause for Palestinian identity brought about by a new generation of educated youth rising to positions of leadership in the unassimilated Palestinian communities who still harbored resentment for the loss of their homeland.
In 1964 at the Arab League summit in Cairo, Fatah and the other underground Palestinian groups came together in agreeance to form a single entity, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); a political organization to serve as representatives for the Palestinian people. Among the key principles of its covenant was fierce opposition to Zionism, the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and the abolition of the state of Israel, as well as the establishment of a separate nonsectarian state in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims could live and worship peacefully among one another.
By the mid 1960s the history of the region reached a major turning point. Hostilities were escalating with neighboring nations; Israel launched a strike on the Jordanian West Bank village of Al-Samūʿ in November 1966 leaving 18 dead and 54 wounded. And in April of 1967 a skirmish between Syrian MiG’s and the IAF resulted in the downing of six Syrian fighter jets. Tensions were again on the rise with Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who despite having a weakened army following Egypt’s war with Yemen began touting antagonistic rhetoric towards Israel to save face among criticism from fellow Arab leaders. Ultimately closing the Strait of Tiran and building up a concentration of Egyptian troops in the Saini.
After a series of small engagements with militant resistance groups based in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan with Israeli security forces the seeds of oncoming conflict had been sown. But by June of 1967 Israel had become a strong power with bold ambitions who’s generals wanted to make a statement in the face of mounting escalations.
According to journalist Miko Peled, son of IDF general Matti Peled, it is revealed within the minutes of a June 2nd 1967 meeting at Israel’s army headquarters in Tel Aviv, which his father attended, that Israel’s generals were pushing the Prime Minister for a war they knew they could win. And war they got.
The Six Day War
On the morning of June 5, 1967 Israel launched an all out blitzkrieg against Egypt and Syria, swiftly destroying both countries air forces with heavy bombardments before launching a massive ground assault. As the generals expected, the armies of the neighboring countries were completely unprepared and overwhelmed leading to devastating losses over the coming days which resulted in Israel’s capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Golan Heights. During this time on June 8th Israel would also launch an attack against a United States naval vessel stationed in the Mediterranean, the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans and injuring 174 more, in a botched false flag attack that was intended to draw the United States into the conflict against Egypt who was at the time a strong Soviet ally, in a preemptive measure to prevent strengthening ties between the Soviets and Arab leaders.
Contrary to narratives perpetuated about the war suggesting that it was a necessary preemptive response to an imminent existential threat, the evidence supports that it was in fact a war of conquest. As several notable top ranking Israeli officials including General Matti Peled, politician and Israeli declaration of independence signatory Mordechai Bentov, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin have all gone on record admitting that the supposed threat against Israel was nothing more than a fabricated pretext.
Therefore the war of 1967 was no more than an opportunistic land grab. During which, according to the first hand accounts of IDF soldiers and officers who took part in the campaign, Israeli forces carried out several heinous war crimes to ensure the expansion of Israeli settler-colonialism.
The casualty rate was devastating, with upwards of 20,000 dead from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria combined, whereas Israel’s loses only numbered 700. The consequences for Palestinians were disastrous as it created hundreds of thousands of refugees and led to over one million trapped under illegal Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. The occupation and it’s ensuing human rights violations continues to this day and serves as the primary cause for continued conflict.
According to various humanitarian and international law organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch among others, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 Israel has subjected the nearly four million Palestinians under its military rule to harsh conditions and brutal treatment. Including but not limited to: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; unjustified restrictions on movement; settlement expansion; and discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.
Hostilities between Israel and the neighboring nations of Egypt and Syria continued to flare amid smaller confrontations in the coming years until once again erupting into a full blown war, known as the Yom Kippur war, from October 6th to 26th of 1973. Ultimately resulting in little gain for either side, though from a geopolitical standpoint played a crucial role in shaping the current relations of Mideast policy.
Throughout the 1970s the PLO continued to rise in popularity and support acting as an impromptu governing body and military force for the Palestinian people and growing to become a prominent figure in the Middle East. Following the start of occupation in 1967 the PLO stepped up their paramilitary activities and began a series of aggressive guerrilla warfare campaigns against Israel including kidnappings, assassinations, and bombings. One such notable incident being the Munich Olympics massacre of 1972.
After growing hostilities and eventual armed conflict strained relations between the PLO and the Jordanian monarchy in the early 1970s the group eventually shifted into Lebanon where they encountered similar hostilities from Lebanese authorities concerned that the group’s activities would bring unwanted conflict with Israel. Concerns that ultimately proved true culminating in Israeli special forces launching raids against several PLO targets in Beirut and Sidon in April of 1973 as retaliation for the earlier attacks in Munich.
Political action by the group eventually saw the PLO gain recognition from the United Nations General Assembly in September of 1974 and once again brought the question of Palestinian nationality into the international spotlight.
In the occupied territories as Israeli settlements continued to expand so too did the civil sector of the PLO, as the group along with other Palestinian leaders worked to create social organizations, labor unions, and religious, educational, and political institutions and create a bureaucratic structure to provide housing, health care, and other services for Palestinians.
In the late 70s tensions in the Arab-Israeli conflict declined as attempts at diplomacy became more prevalent, leading to the Camp David accords of 1978 which sought to establish self governance for the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza and set a five year timeline for the regions to become autonomous. Unfortunately the unequal nature of the accords and failure to address certain key issues led to much of the agreement stalling out.
The following decade saw a return to armed struggle as fighting between the PLO and Israeli forces resumed, which only continued to increase following Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon during the sectarian Lebanese civil war with the intention of ousting the PLO and installing a new Lebanese government more friendly to Israel.
Negotiations were eventually reached for the withdrawal of the PLO from Beirut under the condition that international assurances were given to ensure the safety of civilians. This however was a ruse. Following the withdrawal, between September 16th and 18th extremist Lebanese Christian militias backed by Israel and the United States carried out a massacre of upwards of 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the refugee camp of Shatila and the nearby neighborhood of Sabra. A particularly brutal atrocity that the United Nations would later describe as an “act of genocide”.
By the end of the eighties an entire generation of Palestinian youth had grown up under the brutality of the Israeli occupation. Unlike the generations before them, for the first time none of them had ever known a time of peace free from military rule. With little political status, less civil rights, and dwindling economy the overall morale was one of dejection; disdain for the occupying Israelis, and little trust in Arab governments who had yet to make any actual headway of protecting the Palestinian right to self determination. While the PLO was still popular, trust in them was also waning as the younger generation came to realize that military struggle was so far achieving little in the way of the liberation of Palestinians.
The Beginning Of Modern Conflict
One could argue that 1987 was the beginning of the current era of conflict. That was the year that the struggles of the previous decades came to a culmination and the events that unfolded laid the foundations for the upheaval and unrest still gripping the region to this day.
By December of 1987 the last decade of repression, abuse, and settlement expansion in the occupied territories reached a flashpoint when an Israeli vehicle struck two vans full of Palestinian workers, killing four. Perceived as retaliation for the stabbing of an Israeli man days prior.
This seemingly elementary incident kicked off what came to be known as the first intifada, six years of violent uprisings. Mass protests and riots erupted throughout the occupied territories escalating from rock throwing to Molotov cocktails and bloody clashes as Israel’s heavy-handed attempts to crackdown on the unrest inevitably had the opposite effect.
Even demonstrations of civil disobedience including peaceful protests and nonviolent union strikes were met with brutality by Israeli forces who’s response to the uprisings were characterized by mass beatings, deportations, destruction of homes, closure of universities, and summary executions. All a part of the “break their bones” policy ordered by then Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In all, over 1,000 Palestinians were killed, including 237 children.
This unrest would continue until 1993 when pressure from the international community resulted in the signing of the Oslo Accords and the formal creation of the Palestinian Authority. The accords, negotiated and finalized between 1993 and 1995 were meant to lay the framework for a peace process that would establish Palestinian self governance under the proposed two state solution. Alas, much like the Camp David accords before them, Oslo ultimately fell short of doing much of anything beyond establishing a pseudogovernment and institutions that systematically ingrained the authoritarianism of Israeli subjugation over Palestinians into the framework of daily life.
However during the time of the intifada a key player would rise to prominence that would forever shift the course of the Israel Palestine conflict. A pro-Palestinian militant Islamist group, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as Hamas would suddenly appear and quickly become a popular figure in the armed struggle.
But it is the origins and true purposes of Hamas that present perhaps the most intriguing plot twist of this story.
Contrary to the mainstream narrative of Hamas’s grassroots foundations as an extremist resistance group, its true origins go much deeper. In reality in the years leading up to the first intifada the government of Israel began to realize the problem posed by the effectiveness and popularity of the PLO, even if support was somewhat waning among the youth it still posed a viable resistance, and the Israeli government needed to undermine it at all costs. Enter Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, radical Muslim Brotherhood cleric and leader of the group Mujama Al-Islamiya.
Throughout the years as political Islam gained in popularity secularist factions of the Palestinian national movement began to emerge with differing ideologies regarding the most effective means of resistance and would grow to clash with one another, one such group being Yassin’s Mujama. In this the Israeli intelligence services recognized an opportunity.
Citing statements from former Israeli officials journalist Andrew Higgins outlines in his 2009 Wall Street Journal article How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas the ways in which the Israeli government began partnering with Yassin to help establish his group “as a viable alternative” to the PLO. Much like the United States’ support for the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s led to the formation of Al Qaeda, and its backing of “moderate rebels” in Iraq and Syria during the late 2000s led to the creation of the Islamic State, Israel’s divide and conquer strategy of backing radical islamicists backfired tremendously with the birth of Hamas.
But rather than just being an intelligence fumble or lack of foresight Israel would recognize Hamas as a convenient boogeyman to expedite their Zionist agendas of delegitimizing the Palestinian struggle, continuing settler expansionism and repression of Palestinians, and would go on to utilize the terror group as an asset.
In the words of Israel’s own Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in a 2015 interview ―
“The Palestinian Authority is a burden, and Hamas is an asset,” … “It’s a terrorist organization, no one will recognize it, no one will give it status at the [International Criminal Court], no one will let it put forth a resolution at the U.N. Security Council.”
But even before that infamous interview it was quite clear that Israeli intelligence had made the conscious decision to continue facilitating Hamas.
A 2007 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed conversations between then U.S. ambassador to Israel Richard Jones and the head of Israeli military intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin in which Yadlin stated matter-of-factly that “Israel would be “happy” if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state.”
And that is precisely what Israel has done time and again, including right now as it lays siege to Gaza’s civilians under the pretext of battling Hamas.
This usage of Hamas as an asset of divide and conquer is not just a bygone strategy of the mid 2000s either. As recently as 2019 The Jerusalem Post reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on allowing Qatar and other Arab governments to funnel humanitarian funds to Hamas controlled Gaza was in fact part of a strategy to keep Palestinians divided and sabotage any efforts to unite Palestinians in seeking statehood. In 2020, amid strained relations between Qatar and Hamas, Netanyahu would again intervene. Sending Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen to Doha to mend fences, resulting in Qatar increasing it’s financial aid.
The New Millennium
Merely a few short years after the finalization of the Oslo accords violence would erupt once again, this time on a scale unseen even during the first intifada. Despite the accords of 1993 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories only continued to expand. Peace talks broke down and tensions quickly rose and a flashpoint was reached when soon to be Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a delegation of Israeli officials made a deliberately provocative visit to Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, accompanied by hundreds of Israeli riot police in September of 2000.
The purpose of which was to seemingly demonstrate Israeli religious supremacy, as then-spokesman for Israel’s Likud party, Ofir Akounis, was later quoted by CNN as saying that the reason for Sharon’s visit was “to show that under a Likud government it [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty.” Such a provocation was just one incident in a long line of incidents stretching back to 1967 and the emergence of the extremist Third Temple Movement which seeks to assert Jewish dominance by destroying Al-Aqsa and all traces of Muslim worship at the Temple Mount in favor of building a third sacred Jewish temple in Jerusalem in accordance with end times prophecy.
But on this day in 2000 such an action would lead to the eruption of the second intifada. Protests began immediately following Sharon’s visit to the mosque which riot police subsequently responded to with rubber bullets and tear gas. But rather than dispersing the gatherings this only led to more unrest as the protests descended into riots which quickly evolved into widespread unrest across the occupied territories.
The violence would reach unseen heights as Israeli forces began to use gunfire and targeted killings in addition to attack helicopters and tanks, whereas Palestinian fighters resorted to shootings, snipers, rocket attacks, and suicide bombings. The violence would continue for the next five years resulting in thousands dead and tens of thousands wounded. Among the fatalities were nearly 5,000 Palestinians, among them over 1,200 children.
Though hostilities and violent clashes continued for the better part of a decade and despite not having one specific event to indicate its conclusion the general consensus is that the second intifada came to an end following Israel’s unilateral “disengagement” from Gaza in August of 2005. Dismantling its illegal settlements and withdrawing its troops from the enclave.
In 2006 for the first time Palestinians were able to hold their own parliamentary elections. Resulting in a landslide victory for the political wing of Hamas who won 76 out of 132 seats, officially shifting power of the Palestinian Authority away from Fatah, the largest faction within the PLO.
However this result did not sit well with the United States, who was determined to do something about it. In a stunning 2008 exposé for Vanity Fair titled The Gaza Bombshell, journalist David Rose reveals via a slew of confidential documents corroborated by U.S. officials how the Bush administration hatched a plot to undo Palestine’s first democratic election. By backing a militant faction of Fatah with US funding and weapons, President Bush along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams would prop up strongman Muhammad Dahlan to lead a coup d’état against Hamas resulting in a brief but bloody civil war in Gaza.
Ultimately the coup failed, and Hamas not only retained its power but further solidified its control over Gaza, forcing out Fatah who retreated to the West Bank where they once again rose to power.
With Hamas now firmly in control, Israel’s Zionist regime could now act upon the pretext alluded to in the aforementioned 2007 diplomatic cable and “deal with Gaza” as a hostile state.
In June 2007, without warning Israel imposed a strict blockade on all of Gaza by land, sea, and air that remains in place to this day, effectively turning the entire region into the world’s largest open air prison. A form of collective punishment considered illegal under Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.
And so this brings us to the present. Over the last 16 years Gaza has been besieged by Israel, cut off from the outside world, rampant with poverty from a devastated economy, in a living hell with heavy restrictions on even the most basic of human needs such as health care, food, and clean water. In the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and elsewhere Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has been so harsh and repressive that it has officially been categorized as apartheid by human rights organizations and referred to as a crime against humanity by the United Nations.
In the years since the imposition of the blockade Israel has continued to launch frequent military assaults on Gaza. Including the 2008 Gaza massacre, and the 2014 Gaza war. Two notable documentary films also documented Israel’s engagements on the ground as they happened. In the film Killing Gaza: Life Under Israel’s Bombs and Siege, journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal documented Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, offering a harrowing first hand account of the brutality of the conflict and the numerous war crimes committed by Israeli forces, as well as the destitute conditions Palestinians are forced to endure while trapped inside Gaza.
Similarly, in the 2019 film Gaza Fights for Freedom journalist Abby Martin provides shocking but moving footage of the countless abuses committed by Israeli defense forces in the midst of the 2018 Great March of Return protests during which numerous unarmed civilians were slaughtered by Israeli snipers, including journalists and medical personnel.
In recent years Israel’s brazen assaults and direct contravention of international law have continued. From the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while documenting an IDF raid in Jenin, and subsequently attacking the mourners during her funeral procession; To continuations of illegal settlement expansion including in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh jarrah; And frequent violent incursions against the peaceful Muslim worshippers inside Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan, all while openly espousing repugnant and racist rhetoric against Palestinians that garners little attention from western media.
Even at the start of this year, as Benjamin Netanyahu once again took office his newly appointed administration was one of the most extreme and openly fascistic in recent memory, advocating policies against Palestinians that were alarming and foreboding even by Israeli standards and in hindsight a warning of things to come.
Now as speculation abounds as to whether or not the Hamas attack was actually a surprise or if it was allowed to happen in order to facilitate another incursion just as in previous years, the world watches on and most turn a blind eye to the atrocities currently being committed by the Zionist regime.
As its leaders call for Gaza to be wiped off the map, as its officials declare civilians and infants to be their enemy, as they block off basic essentials such as food, fuel, water, and electricity, as they displace a million people and proceed to bomb evacuees, as they target schools, and hospitals, and residential buildings, as they ethnically cleanse the people of Palestine and the US government plays its part to facilitate the slaughter. All the while spreading blatantly false propaganda in an attempt to justify it. What we are witnessing is tantamount to genocide.
As we can see, the evidence demonstrates quite incontrovertibly that the conflict between the apartheid colony of Israel and the territories of occupied Palestine are not some overly convoluted hullabaloo as many have been convinced that it is via the auspices of imperial propaganda. It is not an issue “too complex to understand”, far from it. Never before has there been such an askew purview of an issue so clearly black and white. Right and wrong have never been so obvious. The objective truth is quite clearly self-evident. For those aware of the facts whom possess critical thinking skills it boils down to a very simple premise —
On the one side there is a group of people claiming validation from an unproven divine supremacy, that with the help of the world’s leading imperial powers has for over a century stolen and colonized land from those who were already living there for generations. They proceeded to carry out decades of violent occupation, subjugation, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism against those peoples while openly professing a desire to wipe them out completely. On the other side are those who have been victimized by said occupation and ethnic cleansing. Who despite such adversity have done everything in their power to defend themselves against said violent colonizers and continue to do so, as is their right under international law.
The reality of the situation isn’t that complicated. Apartheid apologists just like to make it seem that way.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not a matter of taking sides, it is not a matter of left versus right, it’s not even a matter off Jews versus Muslims, it is a matter of acknowledging the inherent right of all human beings to be treated with dignity and to live freely from persecution.