As I write this, Israel continues to escalate its air attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 100 Palestinians, of whom at least half were civilians; injuring more than 600; and displacing about 2,000 people from their homes. (The numbers vary widely by source and change by the minute.) The Israeli military has reportedly mobilized 40,000 reservists so that it can ramp up still further if it so decides. The justification for “Operation Protective Edge” is retaliation for rockets shot toward southern Israel, with some landing in Gazan fields, others intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system and a few making it in. (A full accounting is elusive, with varying reports in the media, often short on verifiable facts and long on emotional rhetoric.) To date, some Israeli property has been damaged, but no casualties and two injuries are reported.
It’s those Palestinian rockets that that are dominating the
headlines, and that cause even normally sympathetic progressives to
waffle in their condemnations of Israel’s ongoing collective punishment
of the 1.7 million people corralled in Gaza. Yet there is very little
direct, probing discussion of the topic. Is the line between provocation
and retaliation really that clear? Is the use of violence to fight
violence by some Palestinians somehow abnormal or unique? And what
proportion of the population in Gaza is actually involved in the rocket
attacks or supports the practice?
It’s time the peace community engages in this discussion, not just
among ourselves but with those for whom the fight for liberation is real
rather than academic: the Palestinians of Gaza.
Provocation vs. retaliation