Another round of Israeli aggression on Gaza has come to an end after it resulted in the deaths of 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.
More than 300 Palestinians were injured and at least 1,500 residential units destroyed or damaged.
Israel initiated its assault on 5 August under the pretext that Islamic Jihad was planning to launch an attack from Gaza. Earlier that week, Israel had arrested one of the group’s leaders in the West Bank.
Yet there was no Palestinian attack from Gaza, making apparent the falsehood of Israeli propaganda preceding and following this assault.
In the days prior, Israeli media had hyped the prospect of an “imminent” Islamic Jihad attack, reporting that the settlements around the Gaza Strip were on “high alert.”
Then, following road closures and an influx of Israeli soldiers, the Israeli air force bombed Gaza.
Israel had retaliated against an imaginary Palestinian attack.
This latest assault shows that the occupation’s aggression against Palestinians is not in response to Palestinian actions, but instead is swayed by the Israeli government’s internal politics.
The colonial state of Israel does not have to justify its policies of aggression. Yet Israel’s propaganda machine has latched onto Islamic Jihad as an acceptable military target to justify its assaults on Palestinians and deprive them of international support.
This is not a new ploy.
Israel always has a cover for its actions. Naturally, it will not openly admit that its actual problem is with the entirety of the Palestinian people. This is why Israel’s actions on the ground are more important than its words.
Even back in 1982 we can see how Israel, under the pretext of targeting the PLO, attacked Beirut, massacring Palestinians and causing widespread damage.
In 2007, Israel imposed a brutal blockade on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – a blockade that has paralyzed the economy, weakened essential services to over 2 million people and led to a situation of widespread malnutrition among children.
Throughout this 15-year siege, Israel has launched four major attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing thousands of civilians and destroying tens of thousands of homes. Yet, for every attack, Israel’s declared target was Hamas.
Now, Israel’s new “target” is Islamic Jihad.
The targets and headlines may change, but Israeli actions remain the same: more civilian victims, more homes destroyed and a continued strategy to break Palestinian resolve.
At its core, the issue is not of one Palestinian faction or another. It’s an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and forced uprooting of Palestinians.
The colonial state of Israel was built upon the bones of Palestinian victims; it is sustained by policies of aggression, uprooting and apartheid against the Indigenous people.
As a result, all the attacks against Gaza, regardless of pretext, come in the same context as Israel’s annexations, wall-building and checkpoints in the West Bank.
We are not required to support or defend the ideology of any faction. We have the full right to criticize Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others.
However, it is essential to remember the root of the problem: the Zionist colonial project. Before the founding of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there was Israeli ethnic cleansing, massacres, settlements and mass imprisonment.
The factions that Israel uses to excuse its crimes were established and fed by the political atmosphere created by Israeli injustices over 70-plus years. Subjugation and injustice push people toward more radical ideologies.
Israel’s problem is not the ideology of certain Palestinian groups; its problem is the Palestinian will to resist the occupation. Israel’s true goal is to break this Palestinian will to resist. It wants Palestinian capitulation to its colonial authority, to the rule of apartheid.
Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian writer and activist who is a refugee from Ramle.