#FreePalestine Till It’s Backwards


Hatem Moussa

Palestinians carry bodies of those killed overnight in their homes by airstrikes.

Krystal Orehek, Reporter

Conflict, clashes, and “both-sides” have all been used in headlines describing the conflicts between Israeli settlers and Palestinians as people turn a blind eye and take a neutral stance on the situation in the middle eastern territory. But the real words that should be used are apartheid, colonialism, and ethnic cleansing, and this is not a time to be neutral.

The growth of Israel vs. the shrinkage of Palestine (If Americans Knew)

Imagine you’re sitting in your home going about your day, then someone marches in and tells you your house now belongs to them. This is what happened in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in Jerusalem at the center of the recent rise in violence erupting in the territories. In a viral video, we can see a Palestinian woman telling an Israeli man, “You are stealing my house,” to which the settler responded blatantly with, “And if I don’t steal it, someone else will.” Thousands of Palestinians have been displaced through this ethnic cleansing for years, as Zionists grow hungrier and hungrier to grow their state. It’s important to note that Israel was made on stolen land as Palestine existed on its own while occupied by the British, but the United Nations decided to divide up the land and create a Jewish state, thus the creation of Israel. Israel was created on stolen land, they continued stealing more after they received their division, and they still want more.

Throughout May, Muslims have been observing the holy month of Ramadan, with this May 7th being the final Friday. Many gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray as well as protest the recent Sheikh Jarrah evictions, only to be met face to face with the Israeli police. At least 178 of the protesters were injured with 88 hospitalized, this would be the beginning of an ongoing violent conflict. The protesters were throwing rocks and setting off fireworks. The police were shooting rubber-tipped bullets and throwing stun grenades.

Obviously, there is a huge difference between rocks and bullets. Israel has a very advanced military (as a matter of fact a bulk of the $146 billion the U.S. has given Israel of our tax money has gone towards military expansion), meanwhile, Palestine has no land army, no navy, no air force… so, essentially no military. Hamas is a Palestinian militant extremist group that believes in the “establishment of an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine,” some believe it acts as a military wing, and many nations deem it as a terrorist group. Hamas has shot rockets into Israel and there have been casualties for both sides, though Palestine’s is far exceeding Israel’s, especially after the recent attacks on Gaza.

“Palestinians walk amidst debris near the al-Sharouk Tower, which housed the bureau of Al-Aqsa television channel in the Gaza Strip, after it was destroyed by an Israeli air attack.” (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

For the last week, Gaza has been bombarded with missiles launched from Israeli forces, destroying buildings and taking the lives of at least 197 civilians. Rockets from militant groups in Gaza have killed 10 Israelis. Israel claims to be attacking Hamas militants and then blow up a bunch of civilian buildings, and in some cases they warn civilians to evacuate… okay… so that means those in Hamas are evacuating too.. so you’re obliterating buildings full of homes, trapping people under rubble, traumatizing anyone in the area… for what reason? Israel blew up a media building housing large outlets such as The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, claiming they were Hamas headquarters in the building, but even president of The AP is calling for evidence. It’s true Hamas is attacking Israel, but it’s also true that those who are oppressed have two options, to continue being oppressed or fight back.

Videos of exploding buildings, children in their homes as the sounds of bombs fill their ears, people searching for bodies in the rubble of collapsed buildings, and Palestinians mourning the loss of their families and friends in Gaza have been circulating the internet all week, posted not from news sources but Palestinians themselves. Social media is revolutionizing the way people see their news, but its impact on the Israel-Palestine conflict is crucial. Through social media, we are able to see videos, photos, and updates directly from those in Gaza and Israel for ourselves, if this wasn’t the case who knows how much might be covered up or go undisclosed.

Free Palestine protesters in London. (Chris J Ratcliffe)

Many social media platforms are censoring posts and hashtags surrounding the conflict, when the Sheikh Jarrah evictions reached social media, despite millions of tweets with the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah, it never was displayed on the trending page. You may not know this but large protests with thousands have been occurring all around the U.S. (and the world in general), and they received little to no media coverage. The US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed support for Israel’s strikes, “I reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned Hamas’ deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians,” but what about Israel’s strikes killing Palestinian civilians, Lloyd? So far the UN has met three times, creating resolutions that would condemn Israel’s response and called for a ceasefire, the United States has blocked it all three times. I’m not that surprised with the government’s response, when you think about it – the U.S. and Israel have a lot of similarities. The only way to make change is if there’s enough public outrage and I hope that can happen. A lot of people wonder how atrocities happen when we read our textbooks, yet there is one happening right now. When what’s happening now ends up in a history book, what side do you want to be on?

A crucial way to help Palestine is by spreading the word via social media since a lot of people are unaware of what’s happening and applying pressure on governments. Visiting the hashtags #SaveSheikhJarrah and #GazaUnderAttack have many people on the ground reporting on events and sharing what they’re experiencing. Targeting Israel’s economy has also helped in the past, and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions is a Palestinian movement that organizes boycotts of Israeli Products, you can visit their website here.