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The Carletonian

Violence in Palestine: The neglected voices

“Sheikh Jarrah feels like a military zone. Enter any house in Sheikh Jarrah and you will find a sad story” – Muhammed Al-Qurd, 12 years old at the time.

In order to grasp this sentence’s density, let’s start with a brief history of British violence in Palestine, a legacy upheld by Israel. More than a century ago, the British government promised the creation of a Jewish state in its then-colony, Palestine. Essentially, a European country promised the creation of a country on a land that was not their own. A growing wave of Jewish migration to the East alarmed the Palestinians as British forces were seizing their lands and handing them over to the newcomers.

In response, Arabs in the region revolted, went on strike, withheld tax payments, etc. Tensions rose when the British, who mass-arrested Palestinians and carried out punitive home demolitions. By 1939, there were 30,000 British troops in Palestine: villages were bombed, curfews were imposed, mass arrests were conducted and execution campaigns were endorsed. From 1936 to 1939, 5,000 Palestinians were killed, and around 20,000 were injured. Everything I’ve mentioned is  actively being done to Palestinians by the IDF today.

In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, which allocated 55% of Palestine’s territory to 33% of Palestine’s population. Statistics aside, Palestinians rejected this resolution because it allocated most of the coastal fertile region to Israel, regions where Palestinians owned lands, worked and lived; most of this land would later be destroyed. Before the British Mandate ended in 1948, Zionist paramilitary groups like Irgun displaced Palestinian villagers, killed Palestinian women and children and destroyed villages. According to the IMEU, more than 400 towns were completely wiped off the map during the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic. In order to show the scale of this violence. Let’s take the example of just one village, Deir Yassin. In 1948, during the Palestinian War, the village declared its neutrality. It had a population of around 600 people, right outside of Jerusalem. On April 9, 1948, paramilitary Zionist groups attacked the village. Houses were blown up with people inside them, villagers on the street were shot dead and the survivors were loaded in trucks and paraded around the streets of Jerusalem. There were over 100 deaths, women and children among them.

Here’s a story showcasing the atrocities of the massacre. “I went walking by the wall — not from the main road but the orchard. The bakery had a window on the side. IDF soldiers were inside, Arab women were sitting on the ground and each one had her arms over her head. They (the soldiers) were telling the baker, ‘throw your son into the oven.’ The baker’s name was Hamed. He replied, ‘I will not throw my son.’ A soldier said ‘Grill him.’ When he refused, they hit Haj Hamed on his head, took the child and threw him in the oven, to be burned alive. I saw this scene… and couldn’t find any strength left within me. They then took the father and threw him after the son saying, “Follow your son”. I thought to myself ‘They are going to catch me,’ so I started running…” – Othman Akkel, Palestinian refugee from Dayr Yasin.

Now, this is an example of just one village. Imagine the bloodshed and death toll with this repeated massacre in more than 400 villages. During this period only, more than 10,000 Palestinians were brutally killed, many more were injured, and between 750,000 and 1 million lost their homes. Whether or not the state of Israel should exist isn’t a question I’ll be answering in this article, as it is not my place. But ask yourselves this: Does any country have the right to flourish at the expense of the millions of people who already lived there? Does any country have the right to brutally attack and murder innocent civilians? Does any country have the right to displace 750,000 people, a number that amasses to five million refugees today?

“I wish we were birds that flew around you, I wish we were with you. People of Gaza who can protect you? You who carry weapons around your waists, and I’ll ask God to bring you victory. A powerful victory that’ll solace you. Amen, oh great God. May God have mercy on our Martyrs” – Refugee in Al Razqa, Jordan.

From 1947 to 2023, tens of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, captured, tortured and killed. An article wouldn’t suffice to cover all the atrocities Palestinian people endured. On June 5, 1967, Israel occupied the rest of Palestine. Settlement construction began in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israeli settlers were afforded all rights when Palestinians had to live under military occupation. In 2007, Israel imposed a blockade and siege on Gaza. The IDF launched attacks on Gaza in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021. Many innocent civilians were killed with the death toll being in the thousands. Many of those civilians were children. Here’s the story of one of them:

“The holiday clothes are so beautiful. How beautiful she would have been wearing them, with her blond hair and fair skin. Until they bombed her and killed her with her holiday hair barrette. They had no mercy on her, they didn’t let her enjoy Eid. On the 19th of May, 2021, it was a Wednesday afternoon, I made dough for baking. I was making Manakish for my children for dinner. Dima was helping me. I wanted an electric pot. Dima ran to get it for me, with candy in her hand, to get the pot from her sister. Her sister lives nearby. Suddenly, we heard a very, very strong blast. The windows shattered all over the pita bread and the dough. We were told it was a warning, that we had to get out. Unexpectedly, I heard someone saying Dima suffocated. I ran outside quickly. I saw a car driving away. My husband came to me. He told me Dima was gone, Dima had been martyred, Dima died. She had shards from the pot in her face. She had shards of the missile in her face. They killed her. ‘I put my trust in God, I put my trust in God, I put my trust in God.’

Dima was very scared of the war. Four days before she was killed, she even told me: “Mama, if something happens to me, I won’t forgive you. Take me to the UNRWA school”. When I went to say goodbye to my daughter, and kiss her, I swear to God, I didn’t recognize her. I didn’t recognize her at all, her body was disfigured…” — Dunia Asaliyah talks about her daughter Dima, who was 10 years old.

On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a land and air attack against Israel killing 236 people, mostly civilians. Israeli hostages were taken. As of Oct. 29, the total number of casualties is around 1,400, with 5,000 injured. While this does not justify the killing of innocent civilians, it is important to understand that this isn’t an isolated event. As we’ve seen in this article, this attack was the product of decades of oppression. As a response, Israel launched one of the biggest modern genocidal massacres seen in recent decades. Gaza is being destroyed beyond repair; the bombs dropped on Gaza in the past two weeks outweigh the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

According to Gaza’s ministry of health, more than 8,000 Palestinians were murdered in direct airstrikes only, not accounting deaths from lack of supplies due to the siege on Gaza. Israel has cut off water, food, electricity, internet and medical supplies from Gaza. Information can’t reach the outside world. Israel can now commit genocide in silence, while world leaders turn a blind eye. Israel has its hands around Gaza, slowly suffocating her to death. They’ve created an open-air prison that they’re now turning into a graveyard. Two million people still live there under these dire conditions, enduring daily bombings and killings of loved ones. Doctors lack adequate medical supplies and aren’t able to treat the wounded, all while hospitals are constantly being flooded with the newly injured. Gaza’s health ministry announced that hospitals are running out of fuel. With no equipment, no medicine, and not enough doctors, thousands more are likely to die. About 100 babies currently rely on incubators to survive while 1,200 people depend on medical equipment. All of these people would die a few hours after hospitals run out of fuel. One of the most sophisticated militaries — funded by the most powerful countries around the world — is pushing two million Palestinians to the brink of death. With the overwhelming numbers of deaths and injuries, it is easy to minimize this genocide and reduce the people suffering it to mere statistics. We must keep in mind that they’re still people and each one of them deserves to have their story heard.

If I told the story of every single Palestinian that suffered at the hands of the IDF, this article would never end e. But here is the story of a teenage boy who lived in Gaza, Hamza. In the 2008 war, Hamza saw his brother murdered in front of him while they were playing soccer. He lost his older brother in 2012 and his father in 2014. When the heavy bombings started in Gaza, he lived in constant fear of losing his mother, his last family member. A few days ago, she was killed by the same people who killed his brothers and father. He’s suffered mentally and physically at the hands of the Israeli army. Traumatized to his pushing point, Hamza committed suicide.

Why do I tell you these stories? I tell you these stories because the world has and continues to ignore Palestinian voices. For 75 years, the Palestinian people have cried out for help, wanting to be free of an oppressor that has taken everything away. Families have been torn apart, homes have been ruined, entire villages have been demolished, and yet nothing has been done to stop this destruction. Even today, Western media refuses to share Palestinian stories, creating an utterly biased depiction of what is happening in the Middle East today. As people who have the ability and freedom to speak up against oppressive regimes, we have the moral obligation to echo the voices of the Palestinians who continue to suffer at the hands of the IDF. It comes down to calling out an oppressor who continues to torment the oppressed. My final question to you is this: how will you use your voice?

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  • S

    Someone who has actually learned historyNov 12, 2023 at 9:54 pm

    Some of this is article is blatantly revisionist history, and I would implore the author to do more research on the matter. Where do I even begin?

    1.-Yes 55% of the land of the mandate of Palestine was given to the creation of a Jewish state. However I would implore the author to look at a map of the potential partition. Half of the state given to Israel was the Negev desert. This land was largely held in royal trust, infertile, and uninhabited. The majority of fertile land was given to the creation of the Arab state. This is not even getting into the fact that the Arab state rejected the original Peele comission partition that gave the Jewish state 20% of the total land.

    2-Israel agreed to the original two state solution even though they largely got desert land. The Arab world reacted by attacking the newly created state by waging a multiple front war.

    Azzam al Pasha the leader of the Arab league made the Arab world’s intention quite clear, stating: “This war [against Israel] will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongol massacres and the Crusades.”

    Do you think any group of people whose enemies openly want to commit a Second Holocaust against them will take it lying down?

    3. What’s another thing that the Arab world did almost immediately after declaring war? It expelled its long standing Jewish population. A quick Wikipedia search for “Exodus of Jews from the Muslim World” will tell you this. Nuri al Said the leader of the Hashemite kingdom of Iraq threatened to put Iraq’s Jews in concentration camps if Israel did not take them. Egypt flat out stripped all Jews of citizenship.

    Why did the Arab world do this? To maliciously flood the infant state with penniless refugees and weaken it. Will the Arab world ever consider justice for these people and their descendants? Don’t make me laugh

    4. I also do not understand what the author gets from lying about casualty numbers or minimalizing Hamas’ actions. I assume you meant 236 people were kidnapped. Additionally it is important to mention that there is significant evidence of rape, babies being stabbed and burnt alive, and torture. Israel’s attack on Gaza did not come in a vaccum. It has given Gazans the space to develop their economy but instead they have a totalitarian terror state and rely on Israel for basic necessities. All the while Hamas’ leaders live in luxury in Doha.