Violence Escalates in Israel/Gaza Conflict
Sophia Gore Browne


Sophia Gore Browne | The Bottom Line

During the first week of March, a small group of concerned students staged a Die-In to spread awareness on campus about the recent surge of violence in the Gaza Strip.

“The Die In” was organized to put a face on the people involved in a conflict that has become a redundant headline. “People our age are being killed and we need to recognize our privilege as U.S. students and put it into our perspective,” said Miriam Zouzounis, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Approximately 40 people attended the Die-In, a few others joined the procession that marched around the campus to several different spots, handing out flyers and informing people about the current situation.

Palestinian civilians trapped in the Gaza strip are on the brink of the worst humanitarian implosion since Israel’s occupation in 1967 according to a report by several human rights and development groups.

Since Israel tightened its blockade on the border in January living conditions have severely deteriorated, 1.1 million people depend on food aid, 75,000 have lost jobs in the private sector and 25-30% are without running water.

Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid are demanding that Israel end the blockade immediately to prevent an irreversible disaster in the region.

“Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible,” said Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen in an interview with the BBC. “The current situation is man-made and must be reversed. Collective punishment is a breach of international humanitarian law, which has placed the whole population of Gaza under daily economic strife, deprived of basic human needs.”

Since withdrawing troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, Isreal has retained control over Gaza’s airspace and coastline as well as its own border with the territory.

This partial occupation created a breeding ground for unrest and rebellion, reflected by the barrage of rockets fired into Southern Israel by Hamas militants. The recent intensification of border controls and Israeli incursions has only fueled support for Hamas amongst the desperate Gazan population, leading to an escalation of retaliatory violence from both sides.

One hundred and twenty-one Palestinians were killed in a single action by the Israeli Defense Force the first weekend of March. This was followed by a shooting incident in Jerusalem, where a Palestinian gunman killed 8 students at a Jewish religious college. Palestinians in the West Bank have taken action through protests and demonstrations to support those stuck in Gaza.

The struggle has reached a stalemate whereby Israel has threatened to intensify their attacks on Gaza, until Hamas ceases firing rockets into Southern Israel. It is a desperate struggle on both sides, no clear resolution is in sight aside from a half-hearted willingness from both governments for some form of negotiations to work towards peace.

“The International community has not taken action. Inaction is acceptance. Everyday there is indiscriminate killing and severe suffering in the Gaza. It’s a humanitarian crisis and people don’t know,” said Mahdi Diab, a participant in the Die-In.

The United Nations has criticized Israel’s attacks as unjustified excessive use of force but little coercive action has been taken. “I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children. I call on Israel to cease such attacks. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise the utmost restraint,” said the UN Security General.