Palestinians are dehumanised and demonised by occupiers

As this piece is being written on Tuesday, October 10, bombs are exploding, guns and rockets are being fired and people are dying in their hundreds in Israel and the Gaza strip. Entire buildings are being razed to the ground in Gaza by missiles fired by the formidable Israeli army in retaliation to the attacks against Israel by Hamas, which started on Saturday, October 10.

That there is this flare-up in bloodletting is itself not surprising. The surprising thing this time around is the scale, sophistication, and destruction of the Hamas attack.

Astonishingly, both the Israelis and their backers in the US and Europe were caught napping.

The inevitability of the frequent flare-up in violence stems from the daily brutalisation, dehumanisation and humiliation of the entire Palestinian population by Israel.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied huge swathes of Palestinian land, subjected Palestinians to degrading and inhuman treatment. There are almost daily raids into Palestinian settlements and refugee camps.

There are almost daily routine reports of Palestinians being shot dead or injured by the Israeli army. Homes are often demolished on suspicion of a member of the family’s engagements in acts of resistance against occupation.

This is collective punishment, which is outlawed in terms of international law. But it seems Israel is immune to international law and can do as it pleases with Palestinians under its occupation.

Several resolutions were adopted by the United Nations against the cruel treatment of Palestinians by Israel but they were all simply ignored.

Secure in the knowledge that the hypocritical western countries led by the US will always protect it, Israel simply scoffs at all those resolutions and ignores them.

The western countries that often present themselves as champions of human rights do not seem to think that Palestinians are human, and therefore, deserving of human rights.

Women, children and men alike are subjected to extreme violence by the Israeli army, the meanest and most powerful in the Middle East. Most Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, have not known anything but brutality all their lives.

It was reported elsewhere that the extreme violence that Palestinians children are subjected to all their lives recruits them into resistance at an
early age. Others are said to suffer from severe mental health problems because of exposure to untold brutality at the hands of the occupiers.

Israel strictly controls the movements of Palestinians, goods, and services in Gaza. The majority of the just over 2-million Palestinians in Gaza are said to have never left the 365 square kilometres area they are crammed in. They need permission to go into Israel for work, while their electricity and water supply is controlled by Israel.

Their little imports and exports must be okayed by Israel. Hence the declaration by many that Israel is an apartheid state.

With the current outbreak of violence, Israel has announced the cutting off electricity, water and everything else in Gaza. This is a classic war crime.

Every now and then, Israel would illegally annex a piece of Palestinian land, expel its inhabitants, and build a settlement for Jews.

The illegal Jewish settlers would sometimes go into violent frolics against their Palestinian neighbours with the protection of the Israeli state and its security apparatus.

The previous and current episodes of extreme violence between the Israelis and Palestinians are highly regrettable and distressing. They can only end if Palestinians are treated as humans. They should not be deserted by the world to wallow in extreme oppression and

Otherwise, what does the world think they should do? Suffer and die quietly?

Let the lives of Israelis and Palestinians be of equal value. Then peace would be possible.


  • Mangena is a former cabinet minister, an academic and former president of Azapo


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