Last Sunday, 300 activists came out to protest the continued Israeli assault on Gaza, the second such protest in 2 weeks. It was one of hundreds of similar actions across the world over the last month, including demonstrations in the tens and hundreds of thousands from New York to London to Cape Town. Chants of “Free Free Palestine” and “Hey Israel, what do you say–how many kids did you kill today” filled downtown as protesters stood on the corner of Fountain Square. Many in the crowd were Palestinians themselves, unable to return to their homeland, drawing attention to the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the horrible conditions that refugees face today.
The protests come after weeks of brutal military action in the Gaza strip following the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teens earlier in the summer. The Israeli state responded in its usual way: collective punishment of the Palestinian people, launching a massive campaign that included constant bombing, a military incursion and the destruction of hundreds of buildings, including hospitals, schools, mosques and the only power plant in the strip. It ultimately took the lives of over 1800 palestinians, most of them civilians, including many children and rendered 40% of the already crowded Gaza strip uninhabitable. As this article is written, a cease fire has more or less ended the violence and “peace” now occupies the ruins.
Throughout the conflict, Israel claimed it was protecting its citizens, who were forced to take cover from an apparently constant barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza strip by Hamas militants. Even so, the rockets killed relatively few, and the vast majority of the losses on the Israeli side were Israeli Defense Force soldiers killed by gunfire, including many killed by friendly fire. Moreover, the rockets fired by the Qassam Brigades are extremely weak, and are reflective of the comparatively low military prowess of the Palestinian people (who have no official army) compared with the IDF, which receives billions in aid from the United States each year. When Israeli troops finally moved into Gaza, under the auspices of finding and destroying tunnels into Israel, the civilian bloodshed was taken to a new level.