Asking the wrong question about Gaza

Every couple of years, since Hamas was elected in 2006, the international community grants Israel an opportunity to carry out a major attack on Gaza.

All the leaders of the “free world” then stand together in supporting Israel’s right to “defend itself” from besieged, unarmed Gazan civilians. Some countries provide political backup, others provide arms, while others offer their silence – allowing Israel to carry out its violations of international law and human rights unimpeded.

Is it that time again?

It seems like the escalation against Gaza has already begun. On 12 June, the Israeli government decided to cut electricity supplies, leaving 2 million people with only four daily hours. A few days later, on 20 June, Israel further reduced electricity supplies to two hours daily. There are three reasons why this is happening at this time.

Internationally, the rise of right wing governments, the election of Trump in the US and the spread of xenophobic and Islamophobic discourse, which find their reflection in real policies in the US, Europe and different parts of the world, provide a fertile ground for any operation that targets Muslim people, countries or organisations.

Israel isn’t even required to provide plausible reasons (not that it was ever required to do so in the past), especially in times when being a Muslim is enough by itself to make an individual or an organisation a terror suspect and legitimate target.

Regionally, the recent diplomatic crisis in the Arab gulf – between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE on one hand, and Qatar on the other – has increased the likelihood of further escalation. The Saudis and their allies have been blunt about Qatar’s support for Gaza as one of the primary reasons that led them to cut diplomatic ties.

This alignment between the Saudis and their allies, including the US and Israel, provides an Arab and Muslim cover and regional legitimacy for whatever action the Zionist state decides to take against the besieged 2 million Palestinians in Gaza.

In Israel, Netanyahu is grappling with three different corruption scandals. According to Israeli media (Ma’ariv, Ynet, The Marker and Walla websites), police are expected to recommend Netanyahu’s indictment for unlawfully receiving gifts worth a few hundred thousand dollars and in return providing certain services. Netanyahu has already declared that, even if he is indicted, he will not step down from office because he is not required to do so under Israeli law.

Netanyahu has also stated that he is considering calling early elections, in an obvious attempt to distract from his current conundrum. Early elections would allow Netanyahu to portray himself as the only strong leader fit to fight “terror”. And what better way to prove it than to escalate, further abuse and possibly attack a besieged community that has been living on the verge of a humanitarian crisis for the last 11 years under Israeli blockade?

Cutting off the electricity is a clear step in escalating the humanitarian crisis and is designed to provoke a Palestinian response, as we have learned from previous Gaza attacks. Such tactics have been repeatedly used by Netanyahu and other Israeli governments to justify their attacks on Gaza.

By presenting the electricity cut as a “Palestinian domestic issue” and stating that it was requested by the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu is trying to shift the responsibility for the escalation from Israel and place it on the Palestinians. It is hard to believe that the Zionist state takes orders from the Palestinian Authority, but even if this were the case, the Palestinian domestic context is entirely controlled and manipulated by Israel.

It is no secret that Israeli policies have instigated, fuelled and created structures to maintain the Palestinian political rift and prevent Palestinian unity between Gaza and the West Bank. That said, more than a week into the electricity cut, there have been no actions or even statements from the PA condemning or opposing this move as collective punishment. Once again, the PA fails to perform as an elected authority and proves to be incompetent in representing and protecting the needs of its own people.

What can be done to try to prevent the next mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza?

We shouldn’t wait until the bombs start to fall, or until the body count exceeds 2,200 in the next attack, to start mobilising for Gaza again. We, as individuals and civil society organisations, inside and outside of Palestine, can play a vital role by publicising what has been happening and highlighting the real issue, which is that Gazans have been living under inhumane conditions due to Israeli policies for the last 11 years.

Since the beginning of the siege, various human rights organisations and solidarity movements across the world have been calling for the immediate end to the blockade. However, it seems like there is a pressing need for renewing campaigns that focus on the man-made humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and intensifying attempts and actions aimed at breaking the siege through advocacy, organising events, freedom flotillas and applying more pressure through the BDS campaigns – targeting specific parties that have been playing a role in sustaining the blockade.

We need to demand and push for no less than an immediate end of the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade on Gaza. Once the Israeli air force starts to hover, and the bombs start to rain from Gazan skies again, it will be too little and too late.

Noura Mansour is a Palestinian educator, writer and activist from Akka, currently based in Australia. This article was previously published at www.Medium.com