Courtesy of Mustafa Hassouna of Turkey’s Anadolu Agency
By Nadine Samy
This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower.
Since the Hamas October 7 attack on Israeli civilians, media outlets and people of authority in the west rushed unabated to condemn Hamas and their actions. Not long after, Israeli military forces retaliated by bombing parts of Gaza where Palestinian civilians resided and yet, Hamas was still the only side on the receiving end of heavy condemnation and villainization by the media and the U.S government.
Israeli military forces have proceeded to drop bombs almost every day on buildings in Gaza since the attack on October 7, justifying the killing of thousands of innocent Palestinian lives with their plan to “eradicate Hamas” and “end terrorism.”
They have targeted and destroyed hospitals, churches, mosques, market places, and peoples’ homes. They have cut off food, water, electricity, and fuel, displacing 1.9 million Palestinians, almost 80% of the population in Gaza according to UNRWA.
Euromed reported in an open letter to the United Nations that Israel has completely demolished over 56,000 housing units in Gaza. In comparison to the 1948 Nakba when Israel displaced more than 750,000 Palestinians and killed 15,000, the almost 21,000 Palestinian lives killed in just the past seven weeks should be alarming to everyone.
The attack on October 7 does not exist in a vacuum. Behind it is 75 years of conflict between Israel and Palestine, namely since the 1948 Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, when Israel occupied Palestine. It is the accumulation of years and years of Palestinans being subjected to brutal violence from the Israeli occupation.
Consequently, the existence of Hamas also does not exist in a vacuum. Hamas are not mere terrorists or radical muslims with a slogan to fight all Israelis or all Jews as some might think.
Founded in late 1987, Hamas is a political and military organization that formed in response to the first Palestinian intifida (uprising) when Palestinans first went on a series of protests and riots against the Israeli occupation. They were elected into power in 2006 as semi-governors of Gaza. Their name is an acronym of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya or Islamic Resistance Movement, with emphasis on the word resistance.
Hamas as an organization was solely formed as a reaction to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, meaning that they most likely would have never existed if it weren’t for the devastating advent of the settler colony of Israel in 1948.
The fact that they are a resistance organization inherently leads to the fact that they are not the problem. In the face of a cruel occupation, Palestinians had to find a way to resist. When Israel is the occupying force, Palestine is naturally the occupied territory and under international law, the armed resistance of an occupied people is not only neutralized but encouraged. Palestinians, unlike Israel, have the right to defend themselves and their resistance is essential to their survival.
Resistance is necessary and will not disappear until the occupation is dismantled. The illusion of peaceful resistance is not and never was attainable under any form of colonial power.
Israel’s alleged right to defend themselves was hailed and trumpeted when they were threatened by one attack. What about Palestine’s right to defend itself? Why turn a blind eye to the years of apartheid and oppression and the daily threats of living under a brutal occupation?
Perpetrating the narrative that this conflict is a “war” between Israel and Hamas is dangerously misleading. While the Israeli military forces are generously funded by the U.S government on a yearly basis, Hamas is not. While Israel is recognized as an official state, backed by the corrupt governments of the west, Hamas is not.
The pretext that what Israel is currently carrying out on innocent Palestinians is to “fight terrorism” or free the hostages is a myth. Demonizing Hamas is simply a form of propaganda the Israeli government is using to justify the reported killing of 8,697 children as of today. How else would one explain such an atrocity?
The amount of human rights violations the Israeli government has committed and been left unpunished for is in part due to the years of agenda-driven attachment of terrorism to Arabs by the West. How else would the U.S government justify the atrocities committed in Iraq or their unconditional support for Israel?
Everything Israel is claiming to be is, in reality, what Palestine actually is. The only ones with the right to defend themselves are the Palestinians just like the only “terrorists” are the Israeli military forces. Therefore, in a world where the Palestinians are systematically denied their self-determination, resistance is all they have and all they can do.
As Malcolm X said, “You don’t get freedom peacefully. Freedom is never safeguarded peacefully. Anybody who is depriving you of freedom isn’t deserving of a peaceful approach by the ones who are deprived of their freedom.”