The outrage and sorrow among Gazans after Monday’s massacre of civilians have been stoked further by the inadequate reactions from Arab and Western countries. Many of them do not question the version offered by the Israeli army, according to which the soldiers only opened fire according to precise rules of engagement, against “violent persons” and “terrorists” carrying out attacks at the behest of (if not on the payroll of) the Hamas Islamic movement. This has been the official story. Meanwhile, international human rights organizations continue to level condemnations against Israel.
We interviewed the analyst Mukreir Abu Saada, a political science professor at the Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, about this and other issues.
Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was the reason for the outbreak of the latest Palestinian protests in Gaza. In the past few hours alone, the death toll has risen over 50, yet your people are struggling to make their voices heard.
The world does not understand that these Palestinian demonstrations on the border with Israel are not the result of political machinations but the outcome of 11 years of total siege of Gaza, which is affecting two million innocent people. The situation in Gaza is not sustainable. The population will not take it anymore. Certain political forces are involved, no doubt, but the Palestinians are going to the border with Israel to demand a normal life, to demand freedom. The demonstrations will continue spontaneously and not because they are being set up from a distance, as Israel claims. Someone has to take action—the international community or the countries of the region, I don’t know, but someone has to take action to put an end to all this.
Such an international intervention does not seem to be on the horizon, and the Israeli government is acting in a very favorable political environment. The United States has transferred its embassy to Jerusalem, and some Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, are strengthening their relations with Israel. It will not be easy for the Palestinians to make their case.
A new massacre of Palestinians has just taken place here in Gaza, on the day of the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and only a few hours before the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. In the face of all this, the Arab world is silent, or, at best, mealy-mouthed, and is doing nothing to protect the Palestinians. It is undeniable: they have forgotten us. Sure, I understand that some of the Arab countries are being confronted with their own internal crises, conflicts and very serious economic and social problems. Others, like the monarchies of the Gulf, are busy with their proxy war against Iran, and the Palestinian issue is no longer relevant to them. Israel and the US are taking advantage of this situation and of the divisions that have emerged in recent years among the Arab countries.
It appears that not even the killing of dozens of civilians in Gaza will lead to a reconciliation between the Hamas Islamic movement and the Palestinian National Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.
It is disconcerting. Even faced with the blood that was just spilled in Gaza, Hamas and Abbas cannot reach the common understanding that is desired by everyone in order to achieve national reconciliation. The Palestinian people deserve better leadership, and I am talking here about both parties. To date, our people have not been able to give themselves a new political direction and replace the leaders who are controlling its daily life with new figures.
The only hope is that the continuation of the protests and demonstrations [on the border with Israel] will put enough pressure on the Palestinian Authority and on Hamas in order to push these two forces to face reality, and decide to act exclusively in the interest of the Palestinian people. But I’m not optimistic, because, during the past 11 years, Israel has launched three large-scale military operations against Gaza, as well as other smaller-scale ones, causing thousands of dead and injured. Not even this has been able to lead the rival Palestinian factions to resolve their differences and to give birth to a new politics—that’s why I am looking at the possibility of a reconciliation only in abstract, remote terms. I fear it will take much more to convince the PA and Hamas to turn over a new leaf.
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