After weeks of fatal attacks on Palestinian protesters in Gaza, Israel has launched one of its worst airstrikes in years, killing two teenagers and wounding at least 25 people. We speak to Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada
AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.
After weeks of firing on and killing Palestinian protesters in Gaza. Israel has launched one of its worst airstrikes in years. On Saturday, two Palestinian teenagers were killed and 25 others were wounded when Israel bombed the Al Katiba area of Gaza City. The slain teens, Amir al Nimra, 15, and Louay Kuhail, 16, had been playing together on the roof of a building when it was hit. Militants in Gaza also fired rockets into Israel, damaging one home and injuring four people. All this comes just days after Israel closed Gaza’s only commercial crossing, intensifying the already crippling blockade.
Joining me is Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. Welcome, Ali. Your reaction to this latest airstrike by Israel on Gaza?
ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, it’s utter horror and heartbreak to see the families of two more children, Amir and Louay, who were close friends. In fact, they were 14 years old, it emerged from the investigation of the human rights group Al Mezan. And they had gone out to play together when Israel carried out an airstrike in the heart of Gaza City, which killed them as they were playing on the roof of this unfinished, unoccupied building. They had no reason to think anyone was going to bomb it. And at least two dozen more people were injured, excuse me, in that attack. And the health ministry headquarters in Gaza also sustained quite severe damage, including damage to ambulances and equipment.
Now, that horrible act came a day after Israel killed another child. Othman Hilles. It’s killed now two dozen children in Gaza since the start of the year among 150 people, and the vast majority, like these children, unarmed civilians. What shocked me, or it shouldn’t shock me, was seeing how there was absolutely no mention of these children in, for example, the BBC World Service reporting on Saturday; the New York Times didn’t mention their name. And the dominant narrative has been this fake narrative that Israel was responding to rockets from Gaza, when in fact it was the other way around. Hamas and other resistance groups fired rockets from Gaza in response to the Israeli air strikes in order to tell Israel that, you know, to send, as Hamas put it, a deterrent message. That Hamas and other resistance groups don’t want an escalation, but they don’t want Israel to be able to bomb and kill Palestinians in Gaza at will, especially amid the much tighter and devastating blockade.
AARON MATE: OK. So two points here, Ali. One is that this Hamas rocket fire also came just days after Israel closed Gaza’s only commercial crossings, as I mentioned earlier, thereby intensifying, if that was even possible, an already devastating blockade. And you mentioned what Israel said was a response to the, to the rockets from Gaza. But also, when Israel closed that commercial crossing, they said that it was a response to the, to some Palestinians who have been lighting kites on fire and flying them into Israel, and setting some fields ablaze. I’m wondering, just your thoughts on that rationale, as well, which was-. By the way, it was widely accepted here in the Western media.
ALI ABUNIMAH: Yeah. Of course, you have to put all this in the bigger context of Israel’s relentless attack on Gaza, which is not just the military, but is in the form of this siege warfare which targets the civilian population. It’s targeted warfare against two million people living in a caged, fenced ghetto which they shot for trying to leave. Israel shot in a single day in May more people than East German border guards shot in 40 years trying to cross the Berlin Wall. They’re in a caged ghetto. The society is in economic and social collapse according to Al Mezan, the Palestinian human rights group. Hospitals, the health system is in collapse. Sanitation system is in collapse. And by the way, on last Monday, Israel banned the entry of construction supplies for U.N. sanitation and hygiene and water projects that are desperately needed in Gaza.
And so the protests, that’s what this is about. It’s about two million people saying that we cannot continue to be kept in a cage, in a giant ghetto, where the choice Israel gives people is die quietly, suffer quietly, or we will shoot you and no human should be put in that position. So the incendiary kites and balloons are part of this protest to tell the world we’re here. These are desperate means by people who’ve been subjected to unprecedented human conditions in modern times. And yes, they’ve set a few fields in Israel on fire. The Israelis claim a few thousand dunams of land, several thousand acres have been set on fire, that it’s caused millions of dollars of damage. No one has been injured, thankfully. But you have to set that against Israel’s systematic destruction of fields in Gaza through systematic spraying of pesticides to destroy crops in Gaza, against Israel’s systematic destruction of the means of civilized life in Gaza. And you have to say that, you have to say, well, if South Africans had done this to the apartheid farmers in South Africa, would people be so upset about it? If Jews did this to protest being caged in ghettos, would people think this is the worst thing of the world?
Let’s have some perspective. Yes, some fields have been burned. But look at the big picture here of what people in Gaza are being subjected to. What they’re resisting, what their message is to the world. And you would see, as Yesha, the Israeli human rights group put it, I couldn’t put it better myself, that subjecting two million people in Gaza to even harsher collective punishment is not only illegal, but morally depraved.
AARON MATE: On that point about what Gazans are subjected to, I want to go to a clip. This is a home video that was recorded by some children in Gaza. They were filming themselves, and their camera caught the moment when the Israeli strike this weekend hit Gaza.
So that’s a video of some children playing, and then being shook by this nearby bombing and then running off to, to the mother of the household. Ali Abunimah, your final thoughts as we wrap this part?
ALI ABUNIMAH: You know, it’s, it’s actually heartbreaking to see the kids in that video and to think that, you know, I don’t know how old they are. Maybe the eldest is 10, which means that in the lifetime of these children they’ve known nothing but war, nothing but siege, nothing but Israeli bombing. Four years ago as we speak, four years ago this summer, Israel bombed Gaza for 51 days. It killed 11 children per day during those 51 days; more than 550 children, with weapons supplied and resupplied by the Obama administration. And four years later no lifting of the siege, no relief for these children, no relief for the people in Gaza. And no wonder people in Gaza are crying out. And yes, they have a right to resist. They have a right to resist the inhuman condition that Israel is subjecting to the people of the Gaza ghetto. Like the people of the Warsaw Ghetto resisted, the people of the Gaza ghetto have a right to resist.
AARON MATE: Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, thank you.
ALI ABUNIMAH: Thank you, Aaron.
AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.