Shimon Peres, who passed away Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a stroke on 13 September, epitomised the disparity between Israel’s image in the West and the reality of its bloody, colonial policies in Palestine and the wider region.
Peres was born in modern day Belarus in 1923, and his family moved to Palestine in the 1930s. As a young man, Peres joined the Haganah, the militia primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba. Read more
65-year-old Ahmed Suleiman Akram al-‘Atawai and his 10-year-old grandchild Tala were running from Israel’s onslaught on Shuja’iyya. As they fled, they were hit by Israeli artillery shells, and died.
They were among the dozens of victims Sunday, when Israeli forces pulverised the Gaza City district. Some, like Ahmed and Tala, were cut down in the streets; others were killed when shells hit their homes. A paramedic, killed as he attempted to rescue the wounded. The ‘Ayad family, hit by a missile from an Israeli warplane, killing ten, including three children. Read more
On the eighth day of Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip, a senior officer in the Israeli military commented on the overnight bombing of the house of senior Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades figure Marwan Issa. “You call it a home”, the anonymous official said, “we call it a command centre and a military post for all intents and purposes”. For all intents and purposes.
NGO B’Tselem has documented ten examples of family homes bombed by Israel with a combined death toll of 52 persons, including 19 children. B’Tselem described the IDF’s justification for such attacks (which, it noted, changed over time), as “unfounded and illegal”, calling the tactic “punitive home demolition from the air”. Read more
At the end of 2013 came a shocking update from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus – at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September. The grim news was shared by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose spokesperson Chris Gunness told French news agency AFP that the conditions in the besieged camp were deteriorating. UNRWA, he said, “have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies” since September.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, anger at job cuts and budgetary problems has manifested itself in the form of industrial action, hunger strikes and marches by refugee camp popular committees. Read more
As the war in Lebanon and northern Israel continues to rage, international commentary has tended to divide into two camps, a dichotomy also reflected in the global Church. There are those on the one hand, who, appalled at the civilian loss of life in Lebanon and destruction to civilian infrastructure, are vocal in their demand for a ceasefire, censuring Israel for its offensive. On the other hand, there are those who firmly place responsibility for the conflict on Hezbollah, and support Israel in its efforts to attack the Shi’ite group. Less ink has been spilt about the trends operating on a more profound level amongst the societies involved, despite the fact that it is the will of the people themselves who will ultimately prove decisive for policy decisions. Read more