Hundreds gathered before Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday evening in a show of solidarity with Palestinian people living in their occupied homelands, after they’ve suffered through some of the deadliest events and days in recent memory at the hands of Israeli occupying forces.
Nine Palestinians were killed and at least 20 were wounded during a raid on the Jenin Refugee Camp on 26 January. Carried out by the Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the operation marked the largest and most lethal raid in the occupied territory since 2002.
Apartheid Israel then fired 13 strikes into the open prison that is Gaza early on Friday. And while there were no immediate reports of casualties, when the month of January came to an end, Middle East Eye reported 35 Palestinians had been killed last month by Israeli forces and settlers.
Indeed, 2022 saw an uptick in the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis in the West Bank region with 146 reported during the 12 months to 19 December 2022, compared with 75 the year prior.
Last year further saw a total of 170 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in raids similar to the one in Jenin.
And it was due to this long list of atrocities perpetrated by Israelis upon Palestinians that Sydney locals got out on the streets on 1 February, maintaining that, as the Albanese government is determined to remain silent on Jenin, others then shall take a stand.
Palestinian organiser Fahad Ali explained to the crowd gathered at Sydney Town Hall that when ambulances were making their way to help those wounded following the 26 January assault on the camp in Jenin, Israeli occupying forces blocked the paramedic vehicles from getting through.
“Can you tell me anywhere else in this world where people are being shot at, and when ambulance services come to attend, where an army, an occupying military, says, ‘No, the ambulances cannot go through,’ and the rest of the world will watch in complete and utter silence?” asked Ali.
“Where else in the world can that happen except in Palestine?”
The activist further explained that Jenin will not be the last such massacre, especially as a “new fascist government” was voted into power in early November, with Benjamin Netanyahu returning to the office of Israeli prime minister: a position he’s now held longer than anyone else.
“Palestinians have been saying for years that it is not about the government of the day, it’s about the institutional racism, the fact of life of apartheid and settler colonialism that defines the experience of the Palestinians in their own homelands,” Ali continued.
And he underscored that the understanding that Netanyahu losing office would lead to positive reforms has been proven false, as the reactionary politician is back in the top ministerial position heading up the most far-right government the nation has ever seen.
“That is something for everybody to recognise. You’re not going to change what is happening on the ground by appealing to the oppressor, by appealing to the settlers in our land,” Ali added. “You’re going to change what’s happening with resistance, by coming together and by fighting for justice.”
Stamping out judicial power
Sworn into office on 29 December, the sixth Netanyahu government is likely to intensify the Israeli state’s campaign against the Palestinian people, place stricter limits on who qualifies as a Jewish citizen, and it plans to overhaul the judicial system in an effort to shore up its own power.
Last month, Israeli justice minister Yariv Levin introduced a comprehensive justice reform package, which is designed to reel in the judiciary has, so that the executive, which in Israeli parliament is almost identical to the entire legislative branch of government, holds ultimate power.
These antidemocratic reforms will provide parliament with the ability to reverse judicial rulings, it will limit the power of judges to overturn laws, it will prevent them from reviewing basic laws, the nation’s set of pseudo-constitutional law, and it will make appointments a task for politicians.
Palestine Action Group Sydney spokesperson Damian Ridgwell told those gathered that the rally wasn’t only in response to recent massacres, but it further served to mark all such mass killings of Palestinians in the occupied territories and within the “apartheid state of Israel” since 1948.
The activist added that last week’s atrocities, including the blocking of medical assistance to those Palestinians that Israeli forces had injured during its raid on Jenin, were being completely disregard by the Albanese government despite the questionable justifications Israel gave for its actions.
“Albanese has not said a single word to even acknowledge the Palestinians that have been murdered by the Israeli military, let alone denounce these crimes,” said Ridgwell.
“But we are not going to be silenced while Israel gets away with this violence against the Palestinian people.”