The ‘fight’ between Israel and Palestine is not a conflict, it is a slowly unfolding genocide. While the western mainstream media continues to perpetrate the myth of Palestinian aggression met with Israeli defense, Palestinians are being massacred.
The Night the Sky Burned
Footage taken in Ramallah, 2002 (c) YouTube User: RamallahFirst
On the final night of my first visit to Ramallah in 2002, we held a concert with our friends. We each performed a song or some little act. We smoked, we drank a little, and we rolled up into our sleeping bags and thought about going home.
All of a sudden, we were woken up and told that the IDF were coming into Ramallah. We could stay in the youth centre or we could distribute ourselves among key buildings in the area to help prevent them being blown to bits. It was a no-brainer for me. I ended up rotating between the Health Ministry and a media centre called the PARC building in Ramallah.
I don’t think it’s possible to recreate in words the absolute horror that ensued that night. The sky looked as if it was on fire, and it sort of was. Although it was the middle of the night, the sky was lit up in reds and oranges by the sheer amount of munitions soaring through it. IDF tanks went past, shaking the building to its foundations; my teeth rattled in my cheeks, the windows rattled in their frames. The sound landscape was full of whooshes, bangs, sirens, deep rumbling, thudding, and popping.
One of our delegation disappeared into the bathroom to throw up. I stood looking out of the windows of the high PARC building at a skyline I had never seen, a skyline of an invasion. We had the idea to turn on the news so we could see it being reported. We went from channel to channel among the English speaking news outlets, but there was nothing on this invasion.
Then we got to the BBC, and a reporter based in Jerusalem said words I will never forget:
‘And it is a quiet night in Ramallah, with Israeli forces returned to the city gates’.
These words have never left me. I was in the middle of a complete military onslaught, with tanks and helicopters firing into a residential area full of civilians. People were dying. But I realised that if I had not been there, I would not have known it was happening.
It was not that the situation in Ramallah was not being reported, it was the fact that it was being misreported that angered me most.
The following morning, we were given the choice to go home via the British Consul, or stay. It was our due day to leave. About half the delegation left, but I felt it would be, for me, the highest order of hypocrisy and cowardice to leave then. We had come on a delegation to show solidarity with the Palestinians, to better understand the situation on the ground and report back to the UK. So, what on earth were people doing leaving the moment the Israeli’s invaded? Given it was now clear the BBC were not going to inform people at home know what our taxes were being spent on, it was on us to tell that story.
We stayed for a further ten days before we needed to return to Britain. I genuinely thought I would die at several points, in explosions, and being shot at near a checkpoint. I had my heart broken several times over by stories of suffering I could hardly bear.
You can read more about my experience here.
And so it Continues
I have been back to Palestine several times since. But each time I return, the Occupation is darker, more violent, and the people less hopeful, more angry and broken.
This is life in Palestine.
- An illegal military occupier has imprisoned you, your family and your entire people behind giant walls, turning your country into a network of open prisons which it controls. The UN has ruled this illegal, but it expands regardless.
- Soldiers routinely enter homes in your area, kidnap your children from their beds and torture them.
- Thousands of your fellow citizens are languishing in military prisons with no charges against them and no hope of release.
- The occupying army maintains a land, air and sea blockade, stopping you accessing the most basic supplies – food, energy, water – such that the UN describes your circumstances as ‘uninhabitable’.
- For the last three years running, this occupier has surrounded your open prison with warships, tanks, fighter jets and drones – and launched all out assaults – you have nowhere to run. In the last week, more than 200 of your citizens have been killed – 80% of them civilians, almost a third of them children
- This afternoon, you were watching local children swimming in the sea – and suddenly they were attacked and killed by occupying forces. This happened in front of international journalists.
Yet in all this time, the media narrative stays the same. It’s portrayed as a religious struggle, a conflict, a hopeless situation where ‘both sides’ need to sort themselves out and work toward peace.
Some Palestinians choose to fight back – with ineffective rockets, or by blowing themselves up, or by firing an old AK47 rifle at armoured tanks and fighter jets. Desperate actions, by a desperate people that the world is willing to watch massacred without lifting a finger to help. What hope would you have under such circumstances?
Remember 9/11, remember 7/7, remember Lee Rigby. Remember how it feels to see blameless people die. Then imagine that happened every day, and no one did a damn thing about it.
We only create hope by recognizing the horrifying, inescapable nightmare that is the life of Palestinians under Occupation. The brave minority of Israelis working for peace understand that you cannot have peace without justice. The Palestinians must have justice, and the burden for peace must be on the aggressor, the illegal military occupier, the jailer – Israel. The Palestinians cannot free themselves from occupation, they must be freed. Only Israel can do that. Until it does, in the words of Noam Chomsky:
“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing… You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense. “
I want to get back to Palestine to report on this story properly, so that we can sidestep the bias of western media and tell this story to our friends, neighbours, and families. Please help by donating, or sharing here.