Bloody Monday

May 14 was a horrifying and tragic day in Palestine. The Israeli military opened fire on Gaza protesters as the US and Israeli governments celebrated the shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem in what was the deadliest in Gaza since the end of ‘Operation Protective Edge in 2014’. At least 59 Palestinians were killed and more than 2700 wounded by Israeli forces on bloody Monday—May 14. Around 50,000 protesters were gathered along the Gaza border as the new US Embassy opened in Jerusalem. In truth Gaza’s demonstrators were being massacred by the Israeli army. And Amnesty International called the events a ‘‘horror show’’. It was a massacre—another installment in 50 years of Israeli military atrocities against the Palestinian people. For more than a month Israel has been working to prepare ground in ways designed to discredit the outpouring of anger from Palestinian people. Palestinians demanded the right to return to their homeland, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’, and against US embassy move to Jerusalem. Trump announced the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December when he formally recognised the holy city as the capital of Israel, saying ‘goodbye’ to decades of US neutrality on the issue. While Palestinians were facing Israeli bullets, Israel’s justice minister called President Donald Trump the ‘‘Chruchill of the 21st Century’’ for relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem. Previous US presidents of both parties refrained from opening embassy in Jerusalem, arguing that the city’s final status should first be resolved through negotiations, involving both Israelis and Palestinians. America and Israel apart 32 countries attended the US embassy inaugural ceremony. Surprisingly Vietnam was one of them.

Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, coincided with the 70th anniversary of ‘‘Nakba’’—or what the Palestinians call ‘‘catastrophe’’—the expulsion of 85 to 90 percent of Palestinians over a two-year period and the destruction of hundreds of villages in 1948. Creation of Israel resulted in the forced expulsion of about 700,000 Palestinians. Israel now repurposes ‘‘Nakba Myths’’ to justify massacre in Gaza.

The Israeli military claims its soldiers are in danger from the protests across the fence in Gaza, but the reality is otherwise. This is not really the case. The reverse is true. Palestinians are in danger in their own homeland. The police beat up Palestinians merely for holding Palestinian flags and chanting that ‘Palestine would be free’. And Israel’s minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan referred to Gazans as ‘Nazis’. To Israelis ‘‘Nakba’’ is a myth which it is not. It’s the burning reality to thousands of Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world. To Trump and his allies they are human dust that can be dispensed with.

Not that Europe is with Trump on this issue. They differ sharply from Trump on the Iranian nuclear deal as well. French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the violence of the Israeli armed forces against Palestinian protesters in no uncertain terms. Even Britain, otherwise an all-weather yesman of the White House urged Israel to show greater restraint. And China as usual was too diplomatic to be taken seriously by any party as they would say ‘‘We (China) oppose violence against civilians. We call on both sides, especially Israel, to maintain restraint and avoid further tension’’. Only South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel until further notice, while Turkey accused Israel of ‘‘state terror’’ and ‘‘genocide’’.

Whether America can still salvage the troubled peace process in the Middle East is open to question. The Kuwaiti move to raise the Gaza massacre issue at the UN Security Council was curtailed by America and the UN did precious little beyond urging the Israelis not to use live fire. And there ended the matter.

The world shows sympathy towards the Palestinians who are refugees for 70 years. The Arab world is divided over how to resolve the Palestinian crisis. There is no possibility to put up a collective protest by Arabs because of the deep divide between the Sunni and Shia sects led by Saudi Arabia and Iran. In the end Palestinians are the losers and a two-state solution seems remote. It is now an open secret that the American administration wants a peace treaty on Israeli terms. They now blame it on the Hamas for violence but the Palestinians are being pushed into the arms of Hamas while weakening the voice of the moderates by the Israelis.

Emboldened by America’s tacit approval of their every barbaric act against humanity, Israel looks unfazed by the prospect of being dragged to the International Criminal Court as they said ‘‘Israeli troops had done nothing illegal’’. They are not worried about the Hague.

To condemn an inhuman action is one thing. And to develop solidarity movement in support of the Palestinians’ cause is quite another. It’s not developing anywhere in the world. So Jerusalem is now capital of Israel but Palestinians hope to claim part of the city as their future capital. Palestinian anger may subside after sometime, but it looks now next to impossible to have an atmosphere of reconciliation. To the Israeli Prime Minister the opening of US embassy in Jerusalem is historic but to Palestinians it is an occasion to mourn. For them it is bloody Monday. After each bout of bloody massacre the question returns : ‘‘Whether Palestinians have been created to rot under occupation for their whole life’’.

Vol. 50, No.48, June 3 - 9, 2018