The recent Hamas attack on Israel was inevitable. For the first time, Hamas militants crossed from Gaza into Israel, killing soldiers and civilians while also destroying military equipment and civilian infrastructure. I state these facts without excusing or justifying anyone’s violence.
Israel’s “declaration of war” on Hamas creates the false impression that Gaza under Hamas is an independent state actor because Gaza has literally been occupied and dominated by Israel since it seized the territory from Egypt in 1967.
In spite of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel is literally attacking itself when it bombs Gaza because it has never relinquished its prerogative to control events both within and around the overcrowded coastal strip.
Israel strictly controls Gaza’s land borders, airspace and coastal zones with a combination of conventional military hardware and high-tech surveillance devices and has enforced a harsh import and export blockade since 2008. It has used the strip as a proving ground for its military and security technology, a major Israeli export sold to any nation willing to pay.
After Israeli leader Ariel Sharon cynically agreed to remove Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005, the move was presented as a magnanimous gesture of great sacrifice. However, previous public remarks made by Sharon advisor Dov Weissglass reveal Israel’s broader goals:
The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process… And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refuges, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda.
It is vital to remember that Israel has openly invaded Gaza in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2021, 2012 and 2023. Each time the result was massive loss of life and destruction in Gaza and minor casualties and property damage in Israel. Hamas’s record of respecting ceasefires has been superior to that of Israel, if for no other reason than sheer survival.
These assaults do not minimize the harm inflicted by Israel’s frequent cross-“border” raids, targeted assassinations and naval attacks on Gaza fishing boats. Israeli leaders have often referred to Gaza invasions as “cutting the grass” and the ongoing blockade as “putting Gaza on a diet” to weaken Palestinian resistance.
Since 2008, more than 6,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military and security forces, mainly in Gaza but also as a result of access prevention, demonstrations, Israeli settler attacks and during search and arrest operations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
During the same period, 292 Israelis died as a result of Palestinian militant violence in Gaza, the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. Seventy-six of Israel’s 292 causalities were Israeli civilians, the other 216 Israeli deaths were soldiers and settlers. By comparison, 2,030 of the 6,263 Palestinian fatalities were women, girls and boys.
This time the vastly higher Israeli military and civilian casualty rates are eliciting a Western outrage that was routinely absent when the majority of deaths were Palestinians. This Canadian, American and European hypocrisy creates the strong impression of anti-Arab racism.
Human nature dictates that a terrible retaliation was inevitable. Israelis and Canadians would not endure similar abuse with calm forbearance yet Palestinians are expected to meekly submit to whatever terms Israel imposes.
As the civilian death toll mounts in Gaza and Israel, dispassionate appraisals of recent events are everywhere in the Western mainstream media. Canada’s corporate press are racing to outdo each other in their defense of Israel. That nation’s history of brutally oppressing the people of Gaza is ignored or justified as counter-terror policy.
This is unsurprising, given the incredible success of Israel’s decades-long hasbara (public relations/propaganda) campaign to falsely portray Israel as a healthy democracy striving for peace while surrounded by violent and irrational Arabs. A nuclear power with firm US support and the strongest military force in the Middle East and Europe is hardly vulnerable.
In addition to attacking Israel, Hamas has consistently inflicted violent oppression on outspoken Gaza Palestinians and anyone suspected of spying for Israel. Unfortunately, Israel’s treatment of occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and African Jews hasn’t been much better. The recent rise of right-wing extremism and anti-Palestinian rhetoric in Israeli politics has inspired growing violence by illegal settlers who have been given a free hand to kill Palestinians, destroy their homes and decimate precious olive trees.
Canada ought to encourage the Israelis to relinquish control of Gaza’s borders, air space and coastal zones; thereby empowering Palestinians to fully profit from agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, tourism and the extraction of offshore natural gas reserves.
The profits from these industries would largely solve Gaza’s financial woes and restore dignified independence to her people. Beyond that, a free and secure Gaza would provide a positive example for other groups struggling for peace and autonomy.
Morgan Duchesney is a Canadian writer and Karate teacher whose work has appeared in Humanist Perspectives, Adbusters, Briarpatch, Canadian Dimension, Shintani Harmonizer, Victoria Standard, the Hampton Institute and the Ottawa Citizen. In addition to political writing, Morgan has published martial arts work and short fiction.