Israeli Settler-Colonialism Perpetuates Genocide Against Palestinians
Ethnic cleansing continues across Palestine
3 March, 2022
This January, in Jerusalem alone, Israel demolished thirty structures, leaving seventy-eight people without a home. This is just a microcosm of the routine destruction, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Israel continues to oppress Palestinians from the river to the sea – destroying their food supply, depriving them of water, preventing them from receiving medical attention, and incarcerating them en-masse. This month, several Palestinians, including minors, have been murdered in cold blood by Israeli armed forces. These murders occur against a backdrop of ongoing settler violence that is aided and abetted by the military regime. Palestinians’ freedom of movement is being increasingly restricted, while settler violence continues with impunity. Attacks in and around the Al-Aqsa precinct are escalating together with mass displacement in the Naqab. These attacks are firmly ingrained in the fabric of Zionism – whose mandate is to establish an ethnonationalist state at the expense of the indigenous people’s existence. It is abundantly clear that the violence we are witnessing in the Naqab, the West Bank, and Jerusalem constitute acts of genocide against the Palestinian people.
Article II of The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment on the Crime of Genocide explicitly defines the term as follows: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a. Killing members of the group;
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Israel’s genocidal intent was made explicitly clear by its founding father, David Ben Gurion, when he wrote to his son in 1937: “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” Recently leaked meeting minutes from 1948 also detail how Ben Gurion asserted, in reference to Palestinian villages, that “we must wipe them out.” This is indeed what happened in the Nakba when 530 villages were destroyed and over 750,000 people were expelled from their homes.
As history and current events have proven, the Nakba never ended. Palestinians – young and old – are regularly massacred, tortured, maimed, imprisoned, and expelled. In Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli regime controls every aspect of day-to-day life – from the medical resources they receive to the amount of electricity, food and water they can consume. Genocide is deeply entrenched within the ethos and practice of the state of Israel today. Al-Naqab Israel’s ongoing genocide against Palestinians is profoundly visible in al-Naqab. Palestinians living in the region are deliberately denied access to electricity, water, sanitation and other basic services. Their farmlands are regularly razed and their homes are habitually demolished.
In the immediate aftermath of Israel’s establishment as a state, 11 000 Bedouins remained in al-Naqab – less than ten percent of the original population. Generations later, the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins in al-Naqab continues. In 2021, over 3000 homes were demolished. Israel treats the Palestinians of al-Naqab, not as legitimate citizens of the state, but rather as unwanted ‘squatters’ to be displaced and expelled.
Without respect for ancient Bedouin land rites and rituals, Israel routinely confiscates land to increase Jewish settlement and plant alien forests over the area. The trees planted – cypress and pine – have been shown to actively increase desertification of the surrounding area. The Zionist praxis is to destroy the Bedouin way of life in al-Naqab – to keep them in poverty and desecration, make the area unliveable, and erase the population from the land. The story of al-Naqab is the story of Palestine as a whole. It is a story of violent dispossession, erasure, and genocide.
Yesterday, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinians in separate incidents across the West Bank. In February, we mourned the lives of Mohammed Shehadeh, 14; Mohammad Akram Abu Salah, 17; Nihad al-Bargouth, 20; and others who were killed by Israeli forces in Nablus, Jenin, and elsewhere in the West Bank. Israel’s extreme brutality against minors and civilians in the West Bank is used to victimise and intimidate any and all forms of dissent against Zionism. At the same time, Israeli settlers continue to dispossess and dislocate hundreds of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories with impunity.
These killings are deeply intertwined with the regime’s intent to make life unliveable for Palestinians. In recent weeks, Israeli forces blocked and injured students trying to go to school, destroyed Palestinian Olive groves, and demolished the water infrastructure of farms and residences in the West Bank. Over 4500 Palestinians are currently detained in Israeli prisons, including nearly 200 children. Prisoners are often detained without being charged, trialled in military courts, and tortured. Even after death, there is no dignity for Palestinians. At present, Israel is withholding the bodies of nine Palestinian children who were killed by Israeli forces, in violation of international law.
In the meantime, Israeli settlement is expanding rapidly. Despite it being illegal, up to 750,000 Zionist settlers live in at least 250 settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. According to UN figures, 370 settler attacks led to property damage in 2021, up from 274 the previous year. Settlers are emboldened by protection from the Israeli military to attack Palestinians and occupy their land. For decades, they have been the vanguard of the Zionist project, using terrorism to advance their aims before being bolstered by the military might of the Israeli state.
Just like in al-Naqab and the West Bank, settler expansion has been the driving force behind state violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem. Presently, over 1500 Palestinians face eviction orders from the Israeli government, at least 300 of whom live in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Many of these eviction orders are based on Jewish settlers’ fabrigated claims to the land.
Sheikh Jarrah is situated just East of the 1949 Green Line, and straddles both West Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa compound. It thus holds strategic importance to the Israeli government’s goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority” in Jerusalem. In recent years, there has been a concerted effort by the Israeli state to displace Palestinians from their land for the benefit of Zionist occupiers.
Settlers, led by the far-right Israeli MP Itamar Ben-Gvir, have harassed and assaulted Palestinian protestors and police in Sheikh Jarrah. They have also set up a makeshift tent, where they have spearheaded settler efforts to seize Palestinian land. Just weeks after the brutal expulsion of the Salhiyeh family, another family in Sheikh Jarrah, the Salehs, faced imminent eviction by Israeli settlers, until mass public mobilisation influenced the court to suspend the eviction order.
Mass mobilisations also successfully halted Israel’s plans to expand its national parks onto Christian sites in East Jerusalem. The scheme was undoubtedly conceived as a power grab, threatening the Palestinian Christian presence in the Holy Land. Leading church officials highlighted how settler organisations laid out the plan “under the guise of protecting green spaces,” when its true intention was to confiscate Christian lands and alter their nature, in the same way that much of the rest of Palestine has been ethnically cleansed.
The brazen racism of Zionism is abundantly manifest in the actions of the Israeli regime. Palestinians, whether in the ’48 areas, Occupied Territories or elsewhere, are subjected to the cruellest treatment. From Sheikh Jarrah to al-Naqab to Gaza, the Zionist message stays the same. The Nakba never ended. The genocide against Palestinians continues. The Apartheid State of Israel has made it clear that it will continue to subject Palestinian men, women, and children to the most inhumane living conditions, and grant them no reprieve from this violent onslaught. Moreover, Zionist forces have shown, time and time again, that any and all forms of revolution will be repressed. This, however, does not dampen the zeal and spirit of the Palestinian resistance. From the river to the sea, and beyond Palestinians have remained ardent and steadfast in their calls for liberation and justice. We have a moral obligation to support this call and bring an end to the genocidal Israeli regime.
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