An Occupier’s Perspective – Happy Independence Day Palestine


By Matthew Varnham, supporter of Occupy London & human rights activist

Happy Independence Day Palestine

On 15 November 1988 the independent state of Palestine was proclaimed by the Palestine National Council (PNC). Just as we pass now into 15 November 2012, Israel has launched airstrikes against Gaza – Operation Pillar of Defence.


At the point of writing, the Governments of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have all confirmed they support the right of Israel to engage in its ‘defensive’ operation against Gaza.


Each Government have, in turn, criticised Hamas for firing rockets into Israel. Which ever position you take, whether in fact you agree that Israel should have the right to defend itself against attack, the contempt the Israeli military have shown against the Palestinian people cannot be ignored, nor can it be trusted that what is currently being engaged is defensive.

There have been reports from Israeli military officials speaking on Israeli television that internet and mobile communications are due to be cut. There are further reports that leaflet drops have informed civilians in North Gaza that tanks and Israeli soldiers currently positioned on the border to Gaza will soon engage in a ground invasion.


Further reports indicating that a UN school in Gaza has been targeted suggest this is not defensive – this is posturing before an invasion – and it is wrong.

Operation Pillar of Defence

Operation Pillar of Defence is a military offensive against the Gaza strip which started on the 14 November 2012.


Initiated through the assassination of Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, who as head of the military wing of Hamas will be a significant blow to Hamas, what has followed is a targeted air and navel offensive against the Gaza strip. The Israeli military justify these attacks by citing the numerous rockets that have been fired into Israel.


As the situation develops, there are unconfirmed reports that Palestinian Resistance forces have responded by attacking Tel Aviv within Israel and an Israeli war-ship currently located a short distance from Gaza.


Lessons not being learnt from the past?

In what may prove to be a repeat of the offensive of late December 2008, it is worth considering that lessons should have been learnt.


The Israeli intervention of 2008, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, was condemned by human rights organisations for its use of weapons banned through international law.


This led to suggestions that Israel had committed war crimes and breached international human rights and humanitarian law. [1] Initial UN calls for Israel to cease and diciest [2] led to the fact-finding mission led by Lord Goldstone [3], which found that the killing of civilians was a result of deliberate guidance issued to soldiers by the Israeli military [para 1889] and destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, and residential homes was the result of a deliberate policy of the Israeli armed forces to make the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population. [para 1891]


This, when taken with senior military official statements justifying disproportionate force as a way of achieving Israeli’s military and political objectives, Lord Goldstone found, undermined the entire regime of international law. [para 1894]


Whilst Goldstone found that there had been failures on both sides, most notably each sides reluctance to assist the fact-finding mission in its investigation, I raise the failings of the past to highlight what I fear to be failures of the present.


Failures that we all have a stake in.


Moving Forwards

There have been calls from groups across the Western world to protest against this latest offensive in Gaza. As Egyptian forces begin to mobalise with Egyptian tanks and commandos moving into the Sinai desert I fear what we are about to witness is an aggressive invasion with the potential of a protracted war. During the time of writing, the Government of the Russian Federation have called for the Israeli forces to cease fire.


It is unclear whether the United Nations Security Council will reconvene the meeting they had planned at 02:00 GMT – and have since cancelled.


I call for you to show your dissent and take part in a protest against the invasion. If you live close to an Israeli embassy, check Facebook to see whether a protest is planned – if not, organise one.


If we do not make it clear to our Governments that we do not support this invasion, our Governments in support of the Israeli offensive will prevent the United Nations General Assembly from taking an affirmative stance against recommendations made by the Security Council against this intervention.


Protests in the United Kingdom will be held in a variety of cities, including London, Oxford and Manchester. The protest at the Israeli Embassy in London will be held at 17:30 GMT at 2 Palace Green, Kensington, London W8 4QB. For further information visit the Facebook event:


For livesteam of the situation as it develops in Gaza, view journalist Harry Fears: Click Here. To see his work as an independent journalist on Gaza Click Here.



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