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34 Years After the First Intifada, Israel Continues its Brutal Occupation of Palestine

The First Intifada, a massive and radical uprising of Palestinian youth against the racist, colonialist state of Israel, began on this day in 1987.

Scott Cooper

December 9, 2021
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Ever since the Western imperialist powers colluded to steal the Palestinian people’s homeland, artificially create the state of Israel as a settler-colonial entity, and install a government devoted to the racist ideology of Zionism, almost every anniversary in Palestinian history has been one of either widespread loss or heroic resistance. Often, it is one of both. Today is one of those occasions — the 34th anniversary of the beginning of the First Intifada, when Palestinian youth said “enough” to decades of oppression and deprivation. Intifada is the Arabic word for “shaking off.”

What has transpired since last year’s anniversary when we published this commemoration? In brief, more of the same. Since December 2020, Palestinians have been subjected to bombings by the U.S.-funded Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), an ongoing blockade of their homes in the West Bank and especially Gaza that keeps vital food and medicine from reaching those who need it, and more expulsions from their lands to make room for settlers. Earlier this week, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was murdered at one of the checkpoints that the colonizers force Palestinians to go through to move anywhere in their own homeland.

The year 2021 has featured an endless series of well-documented aggressions and war crimes by the Israelis. In early February, Israel razed Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa, a Palestinian Bedouin village, for the second time, claiming it was an “illegal settlement” next to a military firing range. Human rights groups denounced it as another forcible removal to serve a land grab. April saw clashes throughout the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem as Palestinian families tried to fight evictions.

On May 8, Israeli police in riot gear, and some on horseback, attacked a crowd after days of protests at the Temple Mount — and injured at least 80 Palestinians with stun grenades and water cannons. Two days later, Israeli police stormed the mosque compound in an effort to evacuate the many Palestinians who sleep over during Ramadan. All that sparked widespread protests and riots by right-wing Israelis — chanting genocidal songs — in nearly every city with a large Arab population. Hostilities broke out again between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, with the IDF — as is always the case — targeting schools, hospitals, childcare centers, and residential buildings with its air strikes.

On July 7, Israeli bulldozers demolished Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa for at least the third time.

On top of all this, the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be an opportunity for the Zionist regime to practice its racist apartheid policies under the cover of a health crisis. In 2020 the Israeli government began to use its contact-tracing app to monitor the movement of Palestinian liberation activists, which was widely condemned. The recent Omicron outbreak has renewed calls from human rights groups demanding Israel cease using the technology, which was developed for Shin Bet, the Zionists’ internal security agency — but the prime minister defends it. And it should come as no surprise that Israel did little to vaccinate Palestinians in the so-called Occupied Territories and especially those in refugee camps — even arguing that it was under no obligation to do anything. As Doctors without Borders put it, the Palestinians have been “left out of Israel’s Covid-19 vaccination success story.” After all, if your objective is to wipe out an entire people, why fight a disease that can help move that along?

Again, as in last year’s commemoration, the same solution is the only solution: the full right to national self-determination of the Palestinian people. Their lands were stolen by imperialism and continue to be occupied by imperialism’s client state, which is armed to the teeth. Those weapons come from the United States, which gives more military aid to the Zionist regime than to any other government. It will take a united struggle by all the workers, peasants, and oppressed peoples of the entire Middle East to end the criminal abomination that is the state of Israel. That day will be a mighty defeat for imperialism, and it cannot come too soon.

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Scott Cooper

Scott is a writer, editor, and longtime socialist activist who lives in the Boston area.

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