Unlike other people in the world, Gazans counted down the last seconds of 2008 anticipating the next Israeli air attack, shelling by tank, or the launch of a missile from warships crouching just offshore. Many of our children thought the flashing explosions were fireworks with which the Israeli military wanted them to mark the advent of the New Year. But too many children were shocked to learn some of their peers were either injured or killed. It was then that they discovered that Israel wanted them to have a macabre welcome for the year 2009.
Last night, the last of 2008, was the most horrible and horrendous for all Gazans. Almost every moment, a bomb fell on civilian homes, or other targets that had already been bombed to rubble. At least 10 people were killed and many other injured. Among the targets bombed by the Israeli Offense Forces were the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education and the Legislative Council.
Bombing these institutions has nothing to do with isolating Hamas or weakening the resistance. The Israeli intent seems to be to create what US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called “creative anarchy.” Indeed Israel has always wanted to keep Palestinians living a life of disorder. They want chaos to prevail in the Gaza Strip. They want to eliminate any legislative or judicial system and replace it with the law of the jungle that existed before Hamas took power.
Such a state of anarchy would be further perpetuated by keeping Palestinians in Gaza ignorant and illiterate. It is to advance this sinister policy that Israel is systematically destroying the education system, targeting universities, schools, and above all the Ministry of Education. As a colonial power, Israel has adopted this old colonial strategy to dominate the Palestinians. It is precisely the same strategy used by slaveholders and colonizers: keep the people you want to control in ignorance so they cannot rebel.
Israel’s claims that Palestinians have been using their institutions as military sites or for hiding and manufacturing weapons are preposterous and ridiculous. These allegations are just like the fake claims about Iraqi weapons former US Secretary of State Colin Powell used to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Laying waste to the Gaza Strip is another way for the colonizers to “prove” that Palestinians are just disorderly, monstrous, barbarous terrorists who do not deserve a state of their own. Instead they should be in the fetters of occupation, they should always be oppressed and repressed so they cannot disturb those living in the Garden of Eden. What should Palestinians do in response to such oppression? Should they remain imprisoned in Gaza, the world’s largest concentration camp? Should they acquiesce to the Israeli siege and pray to God, “imprison me to make me free”?
What is happening in Gaza today is really catastrophic. The systematic destruction of holy places, schools, universities and the killing of innocent Palestinians are war crimes whose perpetrators must be brought to justice. We Palestinians appreciate the efforts of everyone in the free and civilized world to do what you can to intervene to stop this aggression, and bring the war criminals to trial in an international court.
Dr. Akram Habeeb is Assistant Professor of American Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.