Hamas, the government in Palestine’s Gaza Strip, launched unprecedented surprise attacks on southern Israel on 8 October this year. Its troops crashed through the dividing barrier between the regions and went on to kill 1,300-odd Israelis, which included civilians.
The White House’s claim that this was “unprovoked” is another example of US disinformation, as apart from this year marking 75 since Israel forcibly took Palestine, Gaza, one of the most heavily populated areas on Earth, has been suffering a 16 year Israeli-imposed air, land and sea blockade.
But the last ten months have also seen an escalation in provocative behaviour perpetrated by Israel’s December 2022-established Netanyahu government, which is the nation’s most extreme far-right administration ever. And it’s attempting an accelerated annexation program in the West Bank.
Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said in response to the recent attacks that Israel is “imposing a complete siege on Gaza”, which already operates as an open-air prison, as he called for cuts to food, water, electricity and fuel lines to the beleaguered region so as to deal with these “human animals”.
But as Tel Aviv has already carried out a week of indiscriminate air bombings on Gaza, what’s further forging new ground is the Global North’s reinforced claim that Israel has a right to defend itself, without restraint, and that public support for Palestinian in these countries is being erased.
In the wake of Israel declaring war on Hamas, Knesset-Israeli parliament member Ofer Cassif, who’s a part of its left-wing Hadash-Ta’al coalition, spoke to Democracy Now last week about having been on the phone to his Israeli friends as they were killed during the Hamas attacks.
Cassif clarified that nothing could justify the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas, just as nothing can justify the ongoing attacks on civilians in Gaza by his nation, and the Israeli politician then underscored that Palestinians deserve their individual and national rights to self-determination and sovereignty.
“They deserve to live in peace and security without the daily pogroms by fascist settlers under the auspices of the occupation forces and the encouragement of this fascist government of Benjamin Netanyahu,” the Israeli parliamentarian said.
“The Israelis deserve peace and security. They deserve to live in a state which doesn’t occupy, which doesn’t oppress, a state whose government is not a fascist and racist one.”
Cassif then pointed to the Subjugation Plan launched by Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich six years ago. This comprises of annexing the Palestinian Occupied Territories, without upholding Palestinian rights. Those Palestinians that don’t agree are expelled. Those that resist will be killed.
Israeli organisation Peace Now pointed out in mid-July, that over its first six months in office the current Netanyahu government has approved a record 12,855 illegal settlement units in the occupied West Bank, which is the largest number since it began keeping records.
Racists have rights too
Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese told the ABC’s Insiders on 9 October that “Israel has a right to defend itself”. He repeated this on ABC Breakfast and Nine’s Today program. And when the issue of restraint was raised with him every time, he basically played down such suggestions.
But when the globe looks for a call for restraint in relation to such sensitive international incidents, it doesn’t pay attention to who’s running this country, as it usually looks to the US and its president Joe Biden, who, in his initial statements, rose to the right to defence but made no utterance about restraint.
The reason why fellow settler colonial nations not calling on settler colonial Israel to temper its response when attacking the impoverished and long-deprived population of Gaza is so dire is that one of the most advanced militaries on the planet has commenced annihilating a captive people.
And yet, despite the Israeli military being amongst the most developed armed forces on Earth, for the last 12 months right under its nose, it’s had a group of ill-equipped and ill-funded Palestinians who were able to overcome their technological disadvantage and seriously harm their oppressors of 75 years.
So, the most far-right Israeli government over this entire occupation period, which contains elements that propose expelling or exterminating the Palestinian populations living in the ever-dwindling Occupied Palestinian Territories, has too been humiliated, so it wants serious revenge.
Amnesty International released a detailed report in February last year, explaining why Israel is an apartheid state.
So, to have numerous Global North countries slapping Israel on the back and encouraging it to defend itself against those it systematically racially segregates and deprives of their basic human rights suggests that there is something a tad askew in the international relations sphere.
Silencing global dissent
The Minns government decided it would be lighting up the Sydney Opera House on the night of the 9th of October in the colours of the Israeli flag, in a show of solidarity with Israel, due to the Hamas attacks, while state governments of the past have never done the same for Palestinians post-attack.
So, when a group of pro-Palestinian activists turned up to show their support for the Palestinians in the face of three-quarters of a century of genocidal tactics that look likely to escalate now that the Global North is calling for Israel to defend itself, they were welcomed by lines of police officers.
Sydney wasn’t the only western location to push back against locals mobilising in support of Palestine, as it was contrary to what authorities wanted to see happen. But Sydney was a flashpoint of what appears to be the first sign that supporting Palestinian is becoming a global crime.
Despite the Palestinian death rate fast soaring past that of the Israeli dead by mid-last week, France found it reasonable to place a ban on pro-Palestinian protests. And some demonstrators supporting the Palestinian cause in the United Kingdom were arrested over the weekend.
NSW acting police commissioner Dave Hudson said on Friday that officers would be able to invoke emergency public disorder powers that are contained in part 6A of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), which were a legislative response to the 2005 Cronulla Riots.
Hudson’s threat to use such powers on protesters at a publicised rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park appears to have been just more of the authoritarian pile on against anyone who dares raise the plight of the Palestinians. Indeed, the enhanced powers weren’t even exercised.
“The police claims that there was such a threat can only be seen as a scare and intimidation tactic in the lead up to the protest. The emergency powers should not be available to prevent a political protest,” said NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas in a 16 October press release.
“The intense and large police mobilisation on the ground was another scare tactic aimed at intimidating overpoliced people, who were demonised over the past week as posing a risk of violence by police and politicians.”