As this is written Israel is currently bombarding areas of Gaza following the discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, Israeli citizens, who had been missing since 12 June. It is yet unknown the reasons for their murder and no group has claimed responsibility.
Unsurprisingly, before the three boys were even confirmed to have died, Israel had used their disappearance as a pretext for more arbitrary detentions, more raids, more collective punishment. Whilst admitting that two main ‘suspects’ were still on the loose, 400 Palestinians were being held in relation to the kidnapping, mostly on the grounds of being Hamas members.
Near Hebron, an Elderly woman died of a Heart Attack during a violent raid on el-Arrub refugee camp. 9 youths were also injured after IDF soldiers fired rubber coated metal bullets and tear gas at gathering crowds. Meanwhile in Israel, the most hard-line Zionists started Facebook groups demanding the execution of three Palestinian children for every day the three Israelis were missing.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Israeli President Binyamin Netanyahu has used the deaths of Israeli civilians to promise more pain, death and misery to the Palestinian people. He has vowed that Hamas (read: Gazans) would “pay a heavy price. Within hours of the bodies being found, Israeli missiles rained down over the Gaza Strip.
The following day Mohammad Abu Khdair, a 17-year old Palestinian from Jerusalem, was murdered in an almost like-for-like event. Immediate speculation points to a revenge killing by far-right Israelis. The same day footage emerged showing mobs marching through the streets chanting “death to the Arabs” while IDF soldiers share photos of “revenge” written in blood. On social media, Arabs have shared accounts of increasingly frequent and aggressive racist harassment in Israel.
Much of this is a regular occurrence for Palestinians, however the reaction and statements of the Israeli state has created an incredible spike in the toxic atmosphere for the Palestinians. Unashamedly, the Israeli Government are using the deaths of their youngsters for wider political objectives. At a time when public support is waning for settlements, land grabs and invasions, it seems evident that we can expect this event to be used as justification for them.
This is why we condemn Israel’s latest assault on Gaza. The murder of three civilians does not justify the indiscriminate death of others. It does not justify a continuation of the genocide of Palestinians. The reaction goes right to the heart of the racist and inhumane occupation of Palestine. The facts of the murder of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali do not matter to a state that wishes to use their deaths to continue the persecution of the Palestinians.
Speaking at the burial of the boys, Netanyahu said, “[the murderers] violated the decree: ‘Never cast a hand on a child'”.
Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah recently revealed that 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013. That works out as one Palestinian child dying every 3 days during the 13 years.
Join the protest against Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, Saturday 5th July, Portsmouth Guildhall @ 11am