Amid Israel’s brutal military aggression, Grassroots International stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Over the past days, we’ve been in direct contact with our partners on the ground in Palestine. They have conveyed devastation, trauma, steadfastness and hope in solidarity.
In its portrayal of acts of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. media is grossly distorting the nature and scale of the aggression underway. Media outlets zero in on Hamas rockets, while Israeli bombs target Palestinian apartment buildings in Gaza, and Israeli settlers invade and permanently take over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and organize lynch mobs.
We rarely see footage of the sheer magnitude of destruction in Gaza, evidenced by the killings of children. And in East Jerusalem, Israeli police have killed teenage protesters and raided the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, during the month of Ramadan.
These events tend to be framed for Western audiences as Israel « defending itself from terrorism » at worst, or « clashes between two sides » at best. Rarely do we see stories showing just how combative Israeli actions have been, how painful these experiences are for Palestinians, and the historical and root causes of the current violence.
We must cut through the media distortions on Gaza and East Jerusalem. Lifting up the voices of our partners in Palestine exposes the reality: deep trauma of children and families, ongoing dispossession of Palestinian homes and land, settler colonialism as a root cause of the Israeli state-sanctioned violence and apartheid, and Palestinian people’s unwavering resolve for justice and liberation.
Sheikh Jarrah has become an important flashpoint for ongoing settler violence and theft of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. Grassroots movements responded with nonviolent resistance to stop these illegal attempts at forced displacement in this important Palestinian neighborhood. East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as part of the West Bank, and international law explicitly prohibits an occupying power from confiscating private property of local residents and from carrying out individual or mass forcible transfers.
Palestinian organizers with the Baladna Association for Arab Youth attempted to go support the affected families. Yet, despite having Israeli citizenship, they were turned away at Israeli security checkpoints — a common reality for any Palestinian trying to connect with their own community and territory.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, of our longtime ally Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), while on the ground in Sheikh Jarrah, described the ongoing violence that frames this: “Every child deserves the right to be children, and to have a peaceful childhood, free from violence. The youth of East Jerusalem have only ever known life under military occupation.”
This isn’t a conflict between two equal sides. This is an aggressor stealing land and homes while compromising an Indigenous people’s access to food and water — oppressor versus oppressed.
For the last few days, Israel has been bombing Gaza. The death toll in Gaza, which as of May 13 at 9am EDT is at 84 people, including 17 children, continues to rise. At least 6 Israelis and one Indian national have also been killed. More than 480 people in Gaza have been attacked and injured, along with the destruction of homes, infrastructure, and agricultural lands, causing widespread psychological trauma. These recent brutal attacks are layered upon the long-term crisis wrought by years of occupation and blockade, including cutting off vital access to food, cooking gas, medicine and other essentials — all the more deadly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the words of Dr. Raji Sourani, Director General of our Gaza-based partner the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR): « We have the occupation. We have had the blockade for the last 14 years, which has paralyzed our entire lives. We have the pandemic and now we have this fourth war against Gaza. »
The work of our partners hasn’t stopped for a single moment, even amid the assault. “Professionally our field workers and lawyers are doing heroic and fantastic work documenting war crimes one by one under fire. We have no right to give up,” Dr. Sourani added. This work will be essential in presenting new cases of war crimes to the International Criminal Court in the coming months.
Standing with our Partners in Palestine, and Standing Up Together
We join our partners in calling for an immediate halt to Israel’s attacks on Gaza, as well as the theft of homes, violence and repression against people and holy sites in East Jerusalem. We also call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. These attacks remain part of an ongoing cycle of terror against the Palestinian people. Those of us in the U.S. recognize a particular responsibility to demand that our government stop giving $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel every year.
We stand with our partners who are leading an emergency response to the present crisis — at great personal risk — while ultimately working toward freedom, just peace, and self-determination. This includes building food sovereignty, defending land and water, strengthening community psycho-social wellbeing, winning recognition for the rights of Palestinians at the international level, and reclaiming Palestinian identity and unity against erasure and fragmentation.
Let us do our part to end U.S. complicity and heed the Palestinian people’s call for justice.
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Join us in supporting this essential work. Donate to the Palestine Solidarity Emergency Fund. 100% of the funds raised will go to trusted movements and grassroots organizations on the ground who are responding to urgent crises while building toward long-term visions.