“Will there be an upcoming attack on Gaza?” Is Not the Question We Should Be Asking, After 11 Years of Siege.

Every couple of years, since Hamas was elected in 2006, the International Community grants Israel a window of opportunity to carry out a major attack on Gaza. All the leaders of the “free world” then stand together in supporting Israel’s right to “defend itself” from besieged unarmed Gazan civilians. Some countries provide political back up, others provide arms, while others offer their silence allowing Israel to carry out its violations of International law and Human Rights unimpeded.

Is it that time again?

It seems like the escalation against Gaza has already begun. On Monday, June 12th, the Israeli government decided to cut down electricity supplies, leaving 2 million people with only 4 daily hours. Few days later, in June 20th, Israel further tightens the cut and reduces the electricity supplies from 4 to 2 hours daily. The reason for why this is occurring at this time is threefold:

Internationally, the rise of right wing governments, the election of Trump in the US, and the spread of Xenophobic and Islamophobic discourse, which find their reflection in real policies in the US, Europe and different parts of the world, provide a fertile ground for any operation that targets Muslims people, countries or organisation. Israel isn’t even required to provide plausible reason (not that it was ever required to do so in the past) especially in times when being a Muslim is enough by itself to make an individual or an organisation a terror suspect and legitimate target.

Regionally, the recent diplomatic crisis in the Arab gulf, between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE on one hand, and Qatar on the other, has been an enabling factor in increasing the likelihood of the occurrence of such and even further escalation. The Saudis and their allies have been blunt about Qatar’s support of Gaza as one of the primary reasons that led them to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. This alignment between the Saudis and allies, with the US and Israel provides an Arab and Muslim cover for and regional legitimacy for whatever action the Zionist state decides to take against the besieged 2 million Palestinians in Gaza.

In Israel, Netanyhu is grappling with three different corruption scandals, which he is currently being investigated over, and may very well be indicted for. According Israeli media (Ma’ariv, Ynet, The Marker and Walla websites), the police is expected to recommend Netanyahu’s indictment for unlawfully receiving gifts worth a few hundred thousand dollars and in return providing certain services. Netanyahu has already declared that, even if he is indicted, he will not step down from office as he is not required to do, according to the Israeli law.

Netanyahu has also stated that he is considering to call for early elections, in an obvious attempt to distract the public from the current conundrum he is in. Early elections will allow Netanyahu to portray himself as the only strong leader fit to fight “terror”, and what a better way to prove it to his electorates than to escalate, further abuse and possibly attack a besieged community that has been living on the verge of a humanitarian crisis for the last 11 years under Israeli blockade?

Cutting off electricity is a clear step in escalating the humanitarian crisis and is designed to provoke a Palestinian response, as we have learned from previous Gaza attacks. Such tactics have been repeatedly used by Netanyahu and other Israeli governments to justify their attack on Gaza.

By presenting the electricity cut as a “Palestinian domestic issue” and stating that it was requested by the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu is clearly trying to shift the responsibility for the escalation from Israel and place it on the Palestinians. It is hard to believe that the Zionist state takes orders from the Palestinian Authority, but even if this is the case, the Palestinian domestic context is entirely controlled and manipulated by Israel. It is no secret that Israeli policies have instigated, fueled and created structures to maintain the Palestinian political rift and prevent Palestinian unity between Gaza and the West Bank. That said, over a week into the electricity cut, there has been no actions or at least statement from the PA, condemning or opposing this move as collective punishment. Once again, the PA fails to perform as an elected authority, and proves to be incompetent in representing and protecting the needs of its own people.

What can be done to try and prevent the next mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza?

We shouldn’t wait until the bombs start to fall, or the body count exceeds 2,200 on the next attack to start mobilizing for Gaza again. We, as individuals and civil society organisation, inside and outside of Palestine, can play a vital role by surfacing what has been happening and highlighting the real issue, which is that Gazans have been living under inhumane conditions due to Israeli policies for the last 11 years. Since the beginning of the siege, various human rights organisations and solidarity movements across the world have been calling for the immediate end to the blockade, however it seems like there is a pressing need for renewing campaigns that focus on the man-made humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and intensifying attempts and actions aimed at breaking the siege through advocacy, organizing events, freedom flotillas, and applying more pressure, through the BDS campaigns, targeting specific parties that have been playing a role in sustaining the blockade.

We need to demand and actively push for no less than an immediate end of the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade on Gaza. Once the Israeli air-force starts to hover, and the bombs start to rain over Gaza skies again, it will be too little and too late.