Earlier in the week, Israel launched a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing in occupied East Jerusalem, instituting a plan to forcibly evict some 2,000 Palestinians from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Bustan. As residents rose up to defend their lives, livelihoods, and homes, the Israeli state responded with brutality, attacking the Palestinian people in the streets and in their places of worship.
The violent dispossession of the Palestinian people is not new. In 1948, when the state of Israel was first established, Zionist militias forced some 750,000 Palestinians from towns, villages and cities, robbing them of their homes and belongings in the process. This is remembered as the "Nakba" — Arabic for catastrophe.
But the Nakba never ended. Since 1948, the people of Palestine have lost more than 85% of their land to Israel. The militarisation of the Israeli state has now confined them to a series of open-air prisons, in which the Israeli state routinely rehearses its cruel technologies of war — poisoning the soil, contaminating the water, and terrorising the people.
Now, as Israeli bombs rain down on Gaza, shocking videos shared around the world are revealing yet another atrocity. With chants of "Death to Arabs!", ultra-nationalists are roaming the streets of occupied territories, terrorising Palestinians in their homes and ransacking their shops, leaving trails of broken glass in their wake.
Western leaders and the international press have been quick to call for an end to the "conflict", urging calm on "both sides", while invoking Israel's right to "self-defence". These grotesque acts of equivocation only serve to minimise the campaign of terror perpetrated by the Israeli state — and to fortify its monopoly on violence.
Israel's intentions are plain: to beat the Palestinian people into submission, and to clear them from their land forever. "Israel is not preparing for a ceasefire," Benny Gantz, Israel's Minister of Defense, said in an ominous statement. "There is currently no end date for the operation. Only when we achieve complete quiet can we talk about calm."
Let us be clear: there can be no equivalence between oppressor and oppressed, between colonizer and colonised. Israel is a nuclear-armed state, whose military is powered by $3.8 billion in annual grants from the US government. The Palestinians, blockaded on all sides by walls and turrets, have few means to defend their rights in the face of Israel's machinery of war.
We know that the will of the Palestinian people cannot be cowed by threats and violence. The people of the world have time and again borne witness to Palestinian resistance rising in defence of communities and holy sites, homes and land. We salute this resistance and, knowing that Palestinian freedom is intimately tied to our own, uphold the Palestinian right to defence and liberatory struggle.
Now, as Israel lays siege to Palestinian homes, the solidarity and vigilance of the world have never been more urgent.
We, members of the Progressive International, call on the world's progressive forces to march in their millions for Palestinian lives, Palestinian dignity and Palestinian liberation. The time has come to end the Nakba, boycott the apartheid regime, divest from its war machine, and sanction the perpetrators of its crimes.
Photo: Musa Al-Shaer