In the last few days, Israel has intensified its structural strangulation of the besieged Gaza Strip by launching yet another bombardment campaign. The attack followed Israel’s violent suppression of popular Palestinian protests in Gaza calling for the Right to Return. At the time of this writing, at least twenty-seven Palestinians have been killed, including two babies and two pregnant women. Four Israelis were also killed by rockets fired from Gaza. While Israel and Palestinian factions reached a ceasefire on Monday morning, the Israeli opposition criticized the move, advocating for more strikes.
As usual, Western diplomats and media have not hesitated to condemn Palestinian actions while saying little about Israel’s crimes. U.S. President Donald Trump tweets about the violence repeated standard U.S. rhetoric about “deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” and reiterated unconditional “100%” support for the settler-colony “in its defense of its citizens[.]” Bulgarian diplomat Nickolay Mladenov, who is serving as the “UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,” condemned “the continuing launching of rockets from #Gaza.” He added: “Enough #Palestinian and #Israeli lives have been lost, people injured, houses damaged and destroyed! It is time to de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months before it is too late.”
The collective failure to condemn Israeli actions is emblematic of the colonial discourse around Palestine and reflects the ongoing dehumanization of the Palestinian people and the policing of their right to resist. Although Palestinians do not need UN approval to fight against oppression, the legitimacy of this fight is embodied in UN resolutions. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 37/43 from December 1982 defines Israel’s “denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, sovereignty, independence and return to Palestine and the repeated acts of aggression by Israel against the peoples of the region” to be “a serious threat to international peace and security.” It reiterates “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
Oppressed by a regime whose continued existence necessitates perpetual warfare, Palestinians could, nevertheless, capitulate, as Trump and Mladenov want them to, and lie down as Israeli bombs fall on their heads. Or they could do, as they are doing, engaging in peaceful, as well as armed resistance, when necessary, against a colonizing power that has oppressed them for over seventy years. What is clear is that they have the legal right to do this, regardless of the discomfort it might cause the international community or the Israeli state.