Palestine’s calendar is pierced by endless lists of traumatic and painful anniversaries. Now there is another important date that has been permanently affixed to it: the third Israeli battering of Gaza. One year has already passed since Israel’s sadistic summer assault on Gaza, which according to the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report killed 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 551 children and 299 women. For many, the calendar is a daily organizing tool for the comings and goings of life. But for the Palestinian, in a twisted way, the calendar for them is used to mark solemn anniversaries. For the majority of Gaza’s population, the calendar goes all the way back to the Balfour Declaration, the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt and the 1948 Nekba, which has never ended and continues to unfold to this day. For Palestinians, every day is a Nekba that witnesses expulsion, dispossession, murder, assault, harassment, dehumanization, denial of movement, violation of sacred sites, limits on access to food, water, electricity and space, not to mention the constant denials of their presence and identity. Every day a Palestinian is reliving the Nekba, be they under occupation or outside the homeland as a stateless person despite holding a passport or travel documents from host countries. How does it feel when the place you are from is not on the map and is not permitted an official document?
Gaza must be understood as a never-ending and methodical war crime that began to structurally unfold in 1948, and thereafter, up to the present day. Israel stole the homes and properties of Palestinians during the Nekba, while using massacres and unrestrained violence to forcefully drive the population out and into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli war machine never stopped and continued to pursue the expelled Palestinians into Gaza causing further death, trauma and destruction. Israel stole the land and property of individuals and wanted to make sure that the witnesses to the crime and the owners of the properties were dead many times over. How does it feel to be robbed then blamed and killed for stating the basic fact that a thief lives in your home? The problem is not a lack of facts, witnesses and information as to what Israel has done since 1948, but a lack of courage, political will and the prevalence of injustice in the international system. The international system, which basically boils down to the U.S. and Europe, post-World War II, decided to remedy their own direct or indirect criminal culpability in the Holocaust by sanctioning the dispossession of Palestinians. Europe’s guilt produced the Nekba and continues to excuse the siege on Gaza: an epistemic Warsaw Ghetto but only different Semites are locked-up this time around.
Israel’s third assault and eight year of siege on Gaza violates every article in the fourth Geneva Convention and other relevant international laws, yet no serious movement is afoot to prosecute those responsible. The persistent political protection extended by major powers including the U.S. and EU to Israel is a travesty and points to the culpability of the signatories of the fourth Geneva Convention and the prevention of legal remedies being enforced. How does it feel when the judge and the prosecutor are the ones that gave the weapons to the thieves who stole your home in the first place? Gaza is still waiting for supplies to rebuild, medicine to cure the sick and food to end the sadistically imposed “diet” program, but, more critically, it demands an end to the siege and occupation. David Hassell from Save the Children said: “The continued blockade and threat of renewed conflict makes it very difficult for children to recover from the trauma they have experienced.”Palestinians are living a never-ending war and generationally experienced and trans-historically reproduced trauma that has extended to all of the 20th century with no end in sight in the 21st century. Every Palestinian and Gaza resident is a walking case of PTSD that is never allowed to be diagnosed or treated; on the contrary, the chosen remedy is more punishment, imprisonment, torture, war and siege. Gaza is subject to multiple sieges and the international community endorses these by inaction, indifference and pure callousness toward the Palestinians.
How can a Palestinian commemorate an event when the date is already taken, to recall multiple past massacres, crimes and calamities? How can Palestinians mark the calendar if the colonizer has already shredded the country, the people and the calendar itself beyond recognition and so many dates dripping with blood, punctured by massacre and agony? Gaza’s war a year on is not a commemoration. The wounds are still open with rubble everywhere, while orphaned children are not able to experience the gentle touch of a father or mother and the warmth of home because it was obliterated by Israel’s death machines and witnessed by the world. Gaza needs a renewed global resolve to end the siege and support Palestinian calls for BDS, but more importantly to work and dedicate ourselves for a free Palestine.