‘Annihilation’ on the West Bank

The murders in and around Nablus and Jenin bring the number of Palestinians killed on the West Bank this year close to 100. Some of the dead are children, others elderly, while the West continues to look the other way.

The brutality, contradiction and delusions inherent in the Zionist project have perhaps never been as starkly revealed as in the past few weeks. In 1948/9 the colonial settler state destroyed close to 500 villages and hamlets in Palestine. Up to the present day it has destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the territories it has occupied and the surrounding countries it has attacked. Yet when the settler politician, Bezalel Smotrich, called for the “annihilation” of one more village, Huwara, in the occupied West Bank, there was a horrified reaction in the ‘liberal’ Zionist media, as if nothing could be further from the true spirit of Zionism.

In the wake of the killing of two settlers in Huwara, provoked by the killing of 11 Palestinians in Nablus, a few days earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘extremist’ coalition partners (as if he himself were not an extremist) called for the use of the death penalty against Palestinian ‘terrorists’ who kill ‘Israelis,’ by which is clearly meant Jewish Israelis, living on occupied land, and thus the targets for retaliation as those who occupy the land of another people always have been.

When the settler state passed the death sentence on Palestine and its people in 1948 and has been slaughtering Palestinians ever since, when there already is a death sentence in the form of ‘extrajudicial executions,’ when Palestinians can be killed without recourse to courts and without the killers being punished,  one has to ask: why bother putting a legal veneer on the process?

The duelling between the politicians is separate from the sentiments of those who don’t care where or how Palestinians are killed as long as they are killed.  The parents of the two settlers shot dead in Huwara said they were comforted “at least a little” by the news that their alleged killer had himself been killed in the attack on Jenin which left six Palestinians dead and dozens seriously wounded.  The recently appointed ‘minister for national security’ [police minister],  Itamar Ben-Gvir, called a little while ago for settlers in east Jerusalem to shoot Palestinians who throw stones at them, irrespective of the fact that most of them are teenagers if not younger.

Ben-Gvir’s party, Otzma Yehudit, sponsored the capital punishment legislation, which passed 55-9 in the Zionist state’s parliament. One of his senior members, Limon Son Har Melech, said the legislation was “an ethical and necessary thing to do.”  Again, why “necessary” when soldiers, police, undercover agents, and settlers can gun down Palestinians in the street with impunity?

As night follows day, a surge of appalling violence was certain following Netanyahu’s appointment of Ben-Gvir as ‘national security’ minister and Smotrich as ‘finance minister.’ Both men are West Bank settlers with a long record of incitement against Palestinians. Netanyahu knew from their record how violent they would be. That was why he appointed them, which makes him equally culpable. In one of the latest attacks, on March 16, a gunman bent over a wounded Palestinian as he lay on the ground in Jenin and fired a bullet into his head. This is standard practice for Zionist soldiers and undercover agents. They know they will not be punished for such appalling crimes, but, rather, praised for ‘taking out’ another ‘terrorist.’

Netanyahu commended Smotrich for retracting his statement but did not condemn it. The double game is to condemn the settler ‘extremists’ while using them as the young pioneers, protected by the soldiers dancing with them in the streets of Huwara, who advance the Zionist project every day with their violence against Palestinians. They are the equivalent of the Nazi hooligans who targeted Jews on the streets of Berlin in 1936/7, as the use of the words ‘kristallnacht’ and ‘pogrom’ by ‘liberal’ Zionists to describe what happened at Huwara signifies.

The murders in and around Nablus and Jenin bring the number of Palestinians killed on the West Bank this year close to 100. Some of the dead are children, others elderly, while the young men in the resistance, even if armed with light weapons, are practically defenceless during onslaughts on their towns involving armoured cars, drones and helicopters.  A common tactic is to blow up a house with a missile and kill those who survive as they run out.

The ‘West’ continues to look the other way. In Australia, what was important to the Zionist lobby and its outliers in the media (including Morry Schwartz, the publisher of the Saturday Paper, two journals of middle brow social and political commentary The Monthly and the Quarterly Essay) was that Palestinians invited to the recent Adelaide writers’ festival, Ramzy Baroud, Muhammad Kurd and Susan Abulhawa should not be allowed to speak, or speak only in language approved by the Zionists. They were not to be allowed to describe in their own words the horrors that they, their families, and their people have endured over decades at the hands of the perpetrator. That would be ‘anti-Semitic.’ To the credit of the festival’s Jewish director, she stood her ground and they did have their say.

While killing Palestinians the Zionist state continues to attack Syria, bombing Damascus airport or Halab, bombing wherever it wants and whenever it wants. It violates Lebanese air space as a matter of course, and regularly renews the threat to bomb Iran’s nuclear reactors and set off a catastrophic war. Again, the ‘West’ looks the other way, which no doubt it will continue to do until the Zionists burn the house down. What will it say then – that it did not see this coming?