The Gaza Strip takes up as much space as one of Istanbul's larger districts. It borders Egypt on one side, and Israel on the other. The rest is water. The people of Gaza have stood the test of poverty, sickness and death under a seemingly unending siege for years. Again in Ramadan, the Israeli military bombs homes, schools, hospitals, community centers, and children playing on the beach. Yet Gaza, again, does not give up.
Israel, though, had originally thought that this time would be different. The murder of three Jewish youngsters, an event with no proven ties to Hamas, merely served as a convenient excuse. The same went for missiles, albeit with no explosive heads, being fired in response to tons of bombs raining on Gaza. As a spokesman for the Israeli military told The New York Times, Israeli authorities had been planning this assault for an entire year.
What happened a year ago, you ask?
In Egypt, a bloody military coup overthrew the elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood. Eager to get along with Israel, a military dictatorship took their side.
Conveniently enough, the opposition of Hamas to Bashar al-Assad's regime had turned Syria and, by extension, Iran into enemies. Israel thus believed the conditions were ripe for the destruction of Hamas, and launched its attack. Israeli authorities, no doubt, had imagined this time would be different. But they were dead wrong.
At this point, the Israeli military experiences one of its heaviest defeats in recent years. Official data indicates that 13 soldiers have perished in the campaign but Gaza authorities state that 18 have lost their lives. The al-Qassam Brigades, meanwhile, announced that they took one Israeli soldier as a prisoner of war.
The cliche about Israel's right to defend itself, which government officials in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France, and Russia love to bring up does little to cover up the dead bodies of hundreds of Palestinian children. Across the globe, people speak up against the genocidal policies of Israel on the streets. Even though BBC opts to present images of weeping Israeli children, rather than dead Palestinian kids. Even though the Washington Post announced the death of two Israeli soldiers instead of hundreds of dead Palestinians. And although CNN likes to pretend that Tel Aviv, not Gaza, is under siege. The people of the world scream to the top of their lungs that Palestinians are no less human than everyone else.
John Kerry might want to persuade us that Israel, not Gaza, is under attack, but the images of popcorn-chewing Israeli settlers watching the bombardment on Gazan skies beg to differ. Intellectuals such as Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, Desmond Tutu and Naomi Klein call for a boycott of Israel. Meanwhile, pro-Israel lobbyists work hard to censor Rihanna, of all people, over a t-shirt that reads #FreePalestine in a futile attempt to make up for their losses in the PR war.
Israel's misconception, however, not only reflects its inability to accurately read the times. It goes much deeper than that. Isreal's fundamental mistake is to assume that being the only country on the planet with no clear borders to further invade Palestinian territories will somehow help it prosper. Israel is dead wrong because it tends to think that its existence can depend on Palestine's disappearance. Israel's error relates to the reasoning that a pile of dead Palestinians will ensure its safety. Israel's confusion is rooted in the false assumption that a people living on occupied land will bow to tanks, rifles, hunger, humiliation, and death.
Human will, though, is the one thing that even the world's most advanced weapons technology fails to break. Witnessing the occupation of their lands, the slaughter of women and children, olive trees on fire, and the deprivation of a people from the most basic human needs such as clean water and medicine, Palestine shall continue to resist.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.