Yet another terrorising experience for Palestinians ended on Wednesday after two days of Israeli military attacks on the Palestinian town of Jenin. Such attacks are increasingly being normalised, with the rest of the world, especially the Western nations, voicing little or no protest.
The West’s indifference or its ‘see-no-evil’ attitude has emboldened oppressor Israel to become crueller with each new attack on Palestinians.
What did the Palestinians in Jenin do to be punished? Because they are the resistance, like every Palestinian living under occupation. The fight against occupation is a right recognised by international law. Numerous United Nations resolutions endorse the people’s right to resist when under foreign occupation. The UN, reflecting the majority opinion of the international community, condemns occupation, oppression, colonialism, and apartheid. All these immoral acts are practised by Israel, which claims to be the only true democracy in the Middle East—a lie perpetrated by media practitioners on the payroll of the Zionist regime and its sponsors.
The Palestinians are fighting for national liberation—to free themselves from the humiliation of being subjugated by the Israeli government, its armed forces, and its armed settlers, who have taken the Palestinian lands illegally. Such national liberation struggles have been expressly embraced by Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The Protocol recognises resistance as a protected and essential right of occupied people.
In 1974, UNGA Resolution 3314 prohibited states from “any military occupation, however temporary”. The resolution affirmed the right “to self-determination, freedom and independence of peoples forcibly deprived of that right, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination”. It also noted the right of the occupied to “struggle… and to seek and receive support” in that effort. Please note that the term “armed struggle” is implied in the resolution.
UN Resolution 37/43 of 1982 went one step further and explicitly recognised the right to the armed struggle of a people under occupation. By adopting the resolution, the world body explicitly endorsed the lawful entitlement of occupied people to resist occupying forces by any and all lawful means. The resolution reaffirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.
It was only last year that the United States and its Western allies were urging Ukrainians to take up whatever arms they had and resist the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory. But when the Palestinians exercise the right to the armed struggle to end an occupation with a vicious design to expel them from their lands in ethnic-cleaning campaigns, they are called ‘terrorists’ by Israel and its Western allies, especially the United States, whose present president, Joe Biden, has publicly acknowledged he is a Zionist and he is proud about it. He and most of the US lawmakers care less about the fact that the Zionism they hold dear to them is tarnished by the killing of not only countless Palestinians but also justice.
If Palestinian resistance fighters are terrorists, then call Subash Chandrabose a terrorist; call the Viet Minh and the Vietcong, who fought for Vietnam’s freedom, terrorists; and call Nelson Mandela, who fought against South Africa’s inhuman apartheid system, a terrorist.
There cannot be a more heinous form of terrorism than calling resistance terrorism. How do you describe the US listing of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighter-turned-statesman Nelson Mandela as a terrorist? How preposterous, loathsome, disgusting, and inhumane to call such a great leader a terrorist! It was only in 2008 that the US removed Mandela from the US terrorist list—that is, 14 years after he became the president of South Africa, which had been cleansed of apartheid.
It is high time the West learned what justice is and what human dignity is. Yet the US and its Western allies keep justifying their stance of supporting Israel’s military aggression against the Palestinian people by prioritising Israel’s security over Palestinian lives. Theirs is a case of siding with Israeli Goliath and cheering him on to kill Palestinian David.
During the two-day Israeli military campaign in Jenin, a Palestinian town that has seen intensified Israeli military raids since March 2022, the Palestinian resistance fighters’ activism against armed Israeli settlers occupying Palestinian land has been a source of concern for Israel’s ultranationalist-religious government.
This week’s Israeli raid was the fiercest. It involved the use of air power—drones and helicopter gunships—and the deployment of more than 1,000 heavily armed Israeli troops. In this week’s Israeli military attack, 12 Palestinians, including resistance fighters, were killed, more than 800 homes were destroyed or damaged, and more than 4,000 displaced Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camps were re-displaced. Hospitals were attacked, preventing hundreds of wounded Palestinians from being brought in for treatment. The Israeli troops blocked even UN humanitarian aid from reaching the area.
To the Palestinians, the raid brought back the bitter memory of the 1948 Nakba, or catastrophe, during which Jewish terror gangs such as Irgun, Stern Gang, Hagana, and Lehi participated in massacres aimed at expelling the Palestinians from villages that were to be incorporated into Israel under a UN partition plan.
Israel’s resolve to de-Palestinianise Palestine thrives with the support of the US and Western nations, which masquerade as global human rights watchers only to police cherry-picked targets and fulfil their national interest agendas. A jubilant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trumpeted US support, saying, “America has provided Israel with moral and political backing… Security cooperation [with the US] has never been better, intelligence sharing has never been deeper.”
The UN, with the support of Islamic nations and Third-World countries, passed a resolution in December last year to ask the Hague-based International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation… including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”
As expected, Israel condemned the resolution. As expected, the US and 23 other UN members, including the United Kingdom and Germany, voted against the resolution. Some European nations abstained from voting. Sri Lanka was one of the countries which voted in favour of the resolution (77/400).
ICJ rulings are binding, but the court lacks a mechanism to enforce them. In 2004, Israel spurned an ICJ ruling that Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem was illegal. Israel rejected that ruling, accusing the court of being politically motivated.
It may take months or years for the ICJ to give its advisory opinion. But even if justice prevails in the world court, justice will still evade the Palestinians, with the US and Western nations endorsing Israel’s rejection of any adverse ruling.