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The Occupied have the right to resist!

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Picture: Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Taken on October 7, 2023 – Cars are seen on fire following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on October 7, 2023. Barrages of rockets were fired at Israel from the blockaded Gaza Strip at dawn as militants from the Palestinian enclave infiltrated Israel, with at least one person killed, the army and medics said.

By Reneva Fourie

The week October 1 to October 7, 2023, has exposed the hypocrisy of the United States (US), the European Union and their allies.

On October 1, a Palestinian fisherman was shot by the apartheid Israeli regime while fishing in Gaza waters. In the days that followed, forces of the apartheid Israeli regime stormed several areas of the West Bank. They arrested several Palestinians, including nine children, while others were injured. On Thursday, October 5, four Palestinians were killed, three by Israeli soldiers and one by an Israeli settler.

Picture: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Taken on July 4, 2023 – People flee the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank during an ongoing Israeli military operation on July 4, 2023. Israel’s biggest military operation for years in the occupied West Bank continued for a second day on July 4, leaving at least 10 Palestinians dead and forcing thousands to flee their homes as the government said it struck “with great strength” the militant stronghold. Nobody, not the EU or US condemned the violence, oppression and brutality against Palestinians – essentially being attacked in their place of refuge by the brutal military power, Israel, that put them there.

Between January and the end of August this year, 172 Palestinians were killed, and 705 were injured by Israeli fire. These figures are for the West Bank only. There was no public outcry. The death, repression, abuse, dispossession, discrimination, dehumanisation and desecration of holy sites – which are typical, almost daily, occurrences in the lives of Palestinians – go largely ignored.

Even the aggression of the apartheid Israeli forces in Syria is overlooked. Missile strikes occur at least once a month. And that very week, Israel attacked the Syrian vicinity of Deir Ezzor. The world appears to be desensitised to the pain and plight of the peoples of Palestine and Syria – causing one to wonder if they ever cared.

However, on the morning of Saturday, October 7, 2023, the world suddenly awakened to the atrocities in the region. Sadly, the awakening was not informed by an appreciation of the intolerable conditions that had finally led to an eruption of resistance. Instead, the survivors of decades of abuse were blamed.

What came to mind when clippings of the first rocket strikes were released were the words of Nelson Mandela during his treason trial in 1963/4, namely:

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit, and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.”

On this Saturday, the brave people of Palestine took a similar stance. In an unprecedented and brilliantly executed act of resistance, they effectively challenged the Israeli occupation, giving them a mere glimpse of what Palestinians experience all their lives.

The West failed to empathise with the conditions that compelled the acts of self-defence. They refused to acknowledge that ignoring report after report of gross human rights violations by the apartheid Israeli regime had directly contributed to an environment where people felt: ‘till here and no further’.

Maybe the West’s apparent horror is because they had expected the resistance to be less sophisticated and effective. And instead of seizing this moment to do what is right by enforcing international law and compelling the end of the occupation, they are fuelling the aggression.

The US continues to provide arms and military aircraft to the apartheid Israeli regime, affirming the expected declaration by Netanyahu of a state of war. Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza, depriving citizens of access to electricity, water, food and medical care, is typical of its ruthlessness, and continues to be defended.

And, of course, the US’s escalated military presence has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, as they paid no heed to last week’s horrific attack on the graduation ceremony of the cadets of the Military Academy in the Syrian city of Homs. The response of the US, which illegally occupies northern Syria and Iraq, confirms that the Israeli regime is a mere proxy for their interests in the region.

It was heart-breaking to hear a Palestinian crying: “We are not lesser humans”, in response to media coverage that only showcased footage of developments in the occupied territories while ignoring the devastation in Gaza. As a South African who participated in an organisation whose slogan was ‘Freedom or death, victory is certain’, I can relate to the frustrations of the people of Palestine.

Fortunately for us, the world intervened long before all of us were wiped out by the apartheid South African government. Netanyahu threatened to wipe out everyone in Gaza. We cannot let it happen. Every life lost is an inditement on all of us.

Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security and is based in Damascus, Syria.