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Face to face with the demographic threat

Apr 04,2018 - Last updated at Apr 04,2018

The Israeli army, claimed to be one of the most moral armies, has committed a barbaric massacre against Palestinians commemorating the Land Day, a national event they have been observing annually for decades.

In 1948, a total of 78 per cent of the Palestinian land was occupied by the newly established Zionist state. Around three quarter of a million Palestinians were forced out of their homes. That was the beginning of the Palestinian refugee problem. 

While Israel was expecting that the scattered Palestinians would eventually disappear by melting down within the societies they sought shelter within, the refugee body actually continued to grow and to rapidly multiply. The 750.000 refugees of 1948 are estimated at no less than 14 million now.

But it is not just this alarming figure that matters.

When in the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 Israel managed to terrorise Palestinians out of the land its forces managed to capture, except for some who remained behind, the plan was to gradually get rid of the remaining Palestinian Arabs to ethnic cleanse the land completely from its original owners towards the realisation of the Zionist goal of transforming Palestine into a purely Jewish home.

With time, that goal was utterly reversed, as the number of Arabs in historic Palestine / Israel, the West Bank and Gaza — is either equal or even exceeding the number of Israeli Jews. And despite cruel occupation measures, oppression, severe living conditions, daily humiliation, violence, siege and suffering, the Palestinians continue to increase and to stay put. If, in many times in the past, Palestinians opted to flee the danger of war and aggression, they learned not to do so any more.

In its early days, Israel was also counting on the fact that with time, the Palestinians would forget. “The old will die and the young will forget,” an Israeli leader once said. That did not work either.

Time has actually been solidifying the attachment of all Palestinians to their homeland. After seventy years of destitution, the Palestinians, whether in Palestine under siege or occupation, or anywhere else in the world, however remote, are demonstrating attachment, commitment and unwavering resolve to claim back their usurped land. Their determination has steadily been on the rise, despite all odds.  

For Israel that is the real dilemma. What to do with so many Palestinians?

Transfer, a euphemism for more rounds of ethnic cleansing, is not possible. The status quo is not tenable. Granting the occupied Palestinians equal rights as equal citizens is unlikely either because it would lead to an Israel with an Arab-majority government, a direct annulment of the goal of the Jewish state.

These are some of the striking realities facing Israel now. And that explains the panic that led Israeli soldiers to shoot unarmed peaceful demonstrators in Gaza last week, killing 17 civilians and injuring more than a thousand demonstrators on their territory.

It is not the first time Israeli forces committed such barbaric atrocities against Palestinians. That has been the norm all along. 

The Gaza massacre, that was followed by more killings of protestors in the West Bank and Gaza, was not just one of Israel’s army usual war crimes against occupied civilians. It was actually an act of desperation and panic, a sign of evident weakness rather than confidence. It was as if the huge human crowds marching towards the Israeli border with Gaza was seen as the inevitable reality Israel one day was going to face.

Israel has a strong army, a strong air force and even nuclear weapons. But that is of no use against massive unarmed human crowds marching towards it. Obviously, it is easy to shoot demonstrators, what the Israelis did this time and do routinely, what colonial forces used to do against colonised freedom fighters. But such tactics have always been counterproductive.  They helped the victims while at the same time they exposed the oppressors’ helplessness and even fear.

Apparently Israel is beginning to realise that this is the real danger, the danger that cannot be confronted by brute force, or left for time to heal.

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Nil desperandum! Vive la Palestine !

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