Palestine's right to fight
I have been inundated with text messages about the Gaza crisis, on subjects like campaigns to boycott Israeli goods, appeals for humanitarian aid and encouraging people to attend demonstrations.
On Saturday, I joined about 500 Bristolians on a march through the city centre to protest about the impending Israeli onslaught. We were welcomed with cheers and the tooting of car horns. I felt a sense of unity and accomplishment. Later that evening though, ignoring the world outcry, Israel invaded Gaza.
There is now growing anger as images of dead Palestinian children flash on our TV screens. There is a frustrating sense that Israel is acting as a recruiting agent for the likes of Osama Bin Laden, and seemingly incapable of learning from history.
During World War II, after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, Jewish ghettos were set up to control the millions of Polish Jews. Inside the ghettos they lived on starvation rations before, in 1941, shipment to extermination camps began.
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Despite being trapped in effective death camps, Jewish resistance groups managed to operate. In January 1943, German forces tried to level the Warsaw ghetto, but were beaten off by Jewish resistance fighters. Another attempt to destroy the ghetto led to the uprising of April 1943. For one month, the Jews fought off the German army but their resistance was eventually crushed.
Today, conditions in Gaza are very similar to the Warsaw ghetto. Palestinian resistance groups operating against Israeli forces are little different to the Jewish groups that fought the Germans.
For the last 18 months, the 1.5 million people herded into the Gaza ghetto have had to endure a suffocating economic blockade of their land by the Israeli army. There was a critical shortage of food and medicine even before Israel's current war on Gaza.
Israel claims to be acting in self-defence, responding to Hamas firing "thousands" of rockets into Israel. In the last eight years, 20 Israelis have died, yet in the last 10 days, Israel has killed more than 500 Palestinians. When the IRA bombed London, did the RAF bomb Ireland to teach the Irish a lesson?
Why did Hamas not renew the six-month truce with Israel? Was it because Israel mercilessly refused to lift the economic blockade of Gaza? Who then is acting in self-defence? Israel, or the Palestinians, whose land has been occupied for 60 years? Do we ever hear of the Palestinians acting in self-defence?
The Palestinians are under occupation, and as such, they have the right to self-determination under the UN Charter. Recourse to an armed struggle to obtain that right is derived from international law.
Also under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, is accountable for the safety of the citizens of the territory which it is occupying. Instead, Israel is using horrid weaponry like phosphorous and cluster bombs in one of the most overcrowded territories in the world.
To add insult to injury, before bombing Gaza, Israel kindly dropped leaflets, asking people to leave their homes. And where exactly should they have gone? The sea?