Unless you’re especially interested in following these things, it is difficult for many people who enjoy the freedoms that a modern democracy offers to fully appreciate the daily grind that Palestinians endure in the Occupied Territories.
The experience of getting your child to school, and back again, through a military checkpoint; the constant and infuriating sense of grievance and powerlessness; the constant threat of aggression; the way the occupiers debase you as barely human, and the consequent low value placed on your life; the way the occupied are blamed by the occupiers for their predicament.
Most of the things we take for granted here in the UK – running your business, making deliveries, going to the cafe, school, supermarket or hospital, or visiting friends in neighbouring towns etc etc – are played out, if they happen at all, through a filter of risk, humiliation and hate in the Occupied Territories, as is aptly described in her latest posting by Ellie Cee on her blog.
If anyone wants to know why the Palestinians launch rockets into Israel, they should consider that they have been living under various forms of occupation since 1967.
During that time, Israel has stolen Palestinian land at will, surrounded their towns and villages with checkpoints, restricted their freedoms with curfews, robbed them of their hope and self-respect, all while propagating its own sense of entitlement to the land and establishing the reality of impunity.
Israel’s occupation is illegal under international law and breaches two UN resolutions. Under the Geneva Convention, the Palestinians are legally entitled to defend themselves militarily, as we would have done had the Nazis won the Second World War and colonised an occupied Britain.
So, the next time there is an attack on Israel, we shouldn’t just blame the Palestinians for being irrevocably hooked on violence, or for mindlessly provoking Israel. If we’re really interested in seeing peace in this part of the Middle East, it’s simply no good allowing the status quo to continue.
Instead, if we feel anything at all, we should feel some responsibility for the fact that yet more lives have been taken in a conflict that our collective silence has allowed to fester for approaching 40 years.
Without a comprehensive, just settlement over land and statehood, there will be no peace in the Holy Land. And Israel has shown itself largely unwilling to contemplate negotiations over land on anything other than its own terms. Which will inevitably mean more deaths on both sides of the apartheid border.