Palestinians held a protest at the Gaza border with Israel with deadly consequences, leaving dozens of them dead, while the controversial opening of the US embassy took place in Jerusalem on Monday. Picture: AP

The events on Monday will go down as one of the most grotesque juxtapositions of history.

In Jerusalem, the US opened its Israeli embassy in a move that made a mockery of international consensus and law. It was by all means an act of war.

Just 100km away, in Gaza, thousands of Palestinians were commemorating, and demanding, the right to return to their homes, taken away from them in 1948. 

Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians have participated in the Great March of Return in what involved walking towards the fence that separates them from their former homes, now located in apartheid Israel. Since the march began, 107 Palestinians have died and more than 12 000 more injured. Israeli snipers have been busy, picking off targets, young, old and disabled.

On Monday, at least 58 people were killed, and more than 1 500 injured by live ammunition and tear gas fumes. It was an unambiguous massacre by any standards.

While Palestinians were being slaughtered, US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, unelected representatives of the US president, were serenading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the American embassy, in what he described as a good day for peace.

“You can only build peace upon truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3000 years,” Netanyahu said.

But one would be hard-pressed to find a more acute juxtaposition. The story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine is, despite what Israelis or colonial apologists tell you, quite a straightforward affair.

After suffering persecution at the hands of Europeans, including the Spanish, the English, and the Germans, the Jewish people went to Palestine and called themselves a liberated nation. That they had started an occupation and coloniser-settler state of their own in 1948 was an irony not lost on the Israeli leadership: they knew they had to make it work no matter what.

Zionist militia forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, in what became known as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Successive wars were fought, and through the help of other rogue regimes, such as apartheid South Africa, the Israeli state only became stronger.

And like every other occupation, be it in India under the British, black people under apartheid, Libyans under the Italians or Algerians under the French, the onus fell on the Palestinians to respond to their oppressors with non-violent protest means to be legitimate.

That Palestinians live every day under occupation - facing daily indignities of checkpoints, humiliation, and forced displacements - is not considered a culture of non-violence. It was only if and when Palestinians responded with violent resistance - which an occupied people is most entitled to do - that they were immediately tainted as primitive, savage, and later terrorists.

If they actively tackled the occupation with non-violent protests - acts of civil disobedience or flotillas, there was always something like “Hamas rockets” to mask Israeli aggression under the guise of defending its people.

When Palestinians built up the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign, they were accused of anti-Semitism. When Unesco admitted Palestine into the body in 2011, the US moved to cut funding to the organisation.

When academics and scholars challenged the Israeli narrative of perpetual victimhood by comparing Israeli treatment of Palestinians to apartheid South Africa, Israel and the US attacked the UN body that commissioned the report.

Richard Falk, one of the authors of the report, said that Israeli supporters commonly seek “to discredit the messenger rather than address the message”.

And so, there has always been a new justification for the continuing occupation.

Until now.

The events on Monday will go down as a turning point in the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Observers are now faced with the plain, naked truth of murder versus the basic lies of the Israelis and the Americans.

On Monday, there were no reports of injuries to Israelis - civilian or military. There were no reports of Palestinians crossing the fence into Israel. There were no reports of armed Palestinians firing at the Israeli army. There was no “provocation” by Hamas. The Israeli army says three Palestinians were killed for trying to plant bombs at the border. There is no evidence of this. And what about the other 54 who were killed, and the 2700 injured?

More importantly, there were no clashes between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as some news accounts incorrectly reported. At most, there were some Palestinians with rocks and slingshots that even the most talented of soldier would battle to fling over the buffer zone.

Photographers shot some Palestinians armed with tennis racquets batting away tear gas canisters.

So when snipers shot at the children, the elders, the young men and women, they did not do so out of self-defence, they did so instead in an attempt to completely and wholly eviscerate Palestinians.

Perhaps Trump and the Israeli administration thought it apt and a slap in the face of Palestinians when they envisioned moving the US embassy to Jerusalem during the same week in which Palestinians commemorate their most painful memory. Perhaps it was to lend a symbolic victory over the Palestinians that the most powerful country in the world had bowed to Israeli bidding when they acknowledged the impossible: Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israeli cruelty has certainly reached its peak. Their historic ambition, masked by “talks”, “negotiation”, “defence” is now laid out plainly for all to see.

What is left, after Monday, other than to kill them all?

* Azad Essa is a journalist based in New York City. He is also author of Zuma’s Bastard (Two Dogs Books)

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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