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Abby Zimet: After A Year of Grief and Death, “We Are Here and We Will Never Leave”

Gazan protests. Guernica-like photo by Emanuele-Satolli, one of TIME’s best photos of 2018.

With Palestinians facing staggering losses amidst the increasingly flagrant ethnic cleansing campaign that is the Occupation, many view 2018 as the year Israel went finally, openly, blatantly authoritarian and apartheid. The low points and war crimes were many. The Knesset passed a nation-state law that encodes apartheid by affirming the right to national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people”; it also declares the armed, violent squatters of Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, “a national value” to be encouraged. Another new  travesty – moving Israel’s embassy to Jerusalem – joined other longtime calamities: brutal nightly raids, random arrests of young and old, demolitions of scores of homes, most notably in the key Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank. Most grievously, there was Israel’s sickening and often deadly use of force against unarmed Palestinians – largely during Gaza’s months-long Great March of Return protests – insisting on their right to exist.

The shameless oppressors announced it: An Israeli colonel warned any Gazan effort to “violate Israel’s sovereignty” would be “answered with a determined response.” And it came. This year, according to the U.N., Israel killed at least 295 Palestinians, 60 of them children; there is no evidence any was armed. Over 29,000 were injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, including 7,000 children – the highest number since 2005. Roughly 1,500 people suffered “devastating, disabling wounds” needing long-term care; they included 111 limbs lost, 20 of them children’s, and 19 people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. Israel also killed three health workers, including 20-year-old Gaza medic Rouzan al-Najjar; another 546 were injured. Under Israel’s siege, Gazan hospitals quickly ran out of vital drugs, fuel, electricity. And arrests, torture, abuse went on: Israel arrested 5,700 Palestinians, including 175 women and 980 children as young as three. 2018, writes Juan Cole, “was the year Israel finally went completely rogue…It is now formally an Apartheid state.” The beleaguered Palestinians, of course, are still there. Their cry and their message: “Sumud, steadfastness.”

Blocking demolition efforts in Khan al-Ahmar. Photo by Oren Ziv/972 Magazine
Photo by Mohamad Torokman/Reuters
From the daily and nightly hell of the Occupation, Palestinians hold fast to a concise message: “Sumud, steadfastness.”

First published in Common Dreams.

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