Throughout 2018, Gaza’s struggle for survival has embodied Palestinian resistance to the world: from frequent Israeli bombings of homes, schools and hospitals inside the world’s largest open-air prison, to the now 11-year-long blockade that prohibits importing medicines and other basic human needs, and of course, the heroic Great Return March and weekly Friday protests at the militarized “border” of Gaza and the part of Palestine claimed by the apartheid settler state.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, since the beginning of the Great Return March on March 30, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed 240 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 25,000 more. (Gaza Post, Dec. 14)
Yet, as the year comes to a close, the people of the West Bank, too, are rising in a new wave of fightback to remind people everywhere that Palestine will never die.
On Dec. 13, Israeli occupation forces staged a series of raids in the West Bank, executing three Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks on Israeli soldiers: Saleh Barghouthi, Majd Mteir and Ashraf Na’alwa. They also executed 60-year-old businessman Hamdan Arda in his car as he was driving home. (Samidoun, Dec. 13) Dozens more were arrested.
The occupation raids were meant to strike a blow at the morale of the resistance as well as taking militant fighters off the chessboard. The assassinations were carefully timed, coming one day after the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) celebrated its 51st anniversary on Dec. 12, and three days before the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas on Dec. 16.
But if the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv and its sponsors in Washington thought Palestinians would end 2018 demoralized and immobilized, they guessed wrong.
In retaliation for the extrajudicial murders, Palestinian fighters shot and killed two occupation troops and wounded two others near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah in the West Bank. (Ma’an News, Dec. 13) Then, the people came into the streets.
“Today Palestinians from the river to the sea, from Gaza to Ramallah to Nabi Saleh to Hebron to Tulkarem to Nablus confronted occupation forces and held demonstrations to condemn the Israeli offensive, mourn yesterday’s martyrs and reassert the right of Palestinians to resist by any means necessary,” declared Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine on its Facebook page Dec. 14.
The Israeli occupation forces responded to mass demonstrations in the West Bank with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition. Eighteen-year-old Mahmoud Nakhleh was killed by Israeli fire in Ramallah. Troops opened fire on a Palestinian ambulance in al-Bireh City.
Israeli forces sealed off Ramallah and raided the city and nearby refugee camps with hundreds of troops. They destroyed the home of 73-year-old activist Latifa Abu Hmeid and forced hundreds of her neighbors into a nearby open sports field despite freezing cold. This is an example of the collective punishment against the families of political prisoners and resistance fighters carried out by the U.S. and Israel.
Abu Hmeid said that the demolition “will not break our will,” vowing to rebuild. “All my sons have either been martyred or imprisoned, and that didn’t break me.” (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 16)
The Israeli military also aided and defended armed Zionist settler attacks over the weekend of Dec. 15-16, targeting schools in al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, a village south of Nablus, and civilian homes. (Middle East Monitor, Dec. 16) On Dec. 18, settlers rampaged through Bethlehem, hitting a Palestinian youth with a car and raiding a Greek Orthodox monastery. (Ma’an News, Dec. 18)
The so-called state of Israel is a U.S. military enterprise, weaponized and funded by Washington and Wall Street as a bastion of U.S. imperialist power and white supremacy in the Middle East. Its ideological project, Zionism, is meant to divide Jewish people from their Arab siblings and fellow workers.
U.S. imperialist politicians, from reactionary Donald Trump to “liberal” Democrat Chuck Schumer, seek to destroy Palestinian resistance through force of arms and withdrawal of humanitarian aid. They enact censorious laws to try to silence solidarity with Palestine at home.
But increasingly, even here in the belly of the beast, the mask is being torn away, and people of all nationalities are demanding: Free Palestine!