Israel has continued its relentless bombardment of the besieged enclave of Gaza, killing dozens, including 17 children, and injuring hundreds of civilians. Among the so-called military targets was Al-Shorouk Tower, home to several local and international news outlets, which was struck by Israeli jets on Wednesday.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) says it is monitoring events in the occupied Palestinian territories and intends to investigate possible war crimes.
“I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute (crimes against humanity and war crimes),” ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said on Wednesday.
Bensouda’s statements are said to have infuriated Israeli leaders but were largely welcomed by the Palestinian leadership. Israel is not a member of the ICC, which means that any action the ICC may take is likely to be symbolic only.
Whilst Israeli fighter jets bomb homes in Gaza, it seems that Israel is also being set on fire in what an Israeli mayor has described as a civil war or a Palestinian uprising.
The past week has seen what some call “Israeli-Arabs”—Palestinians with Israeli citizenship—spontaneously rise in protest against the forcible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Israeli-Arabs” include those who remained behind in what became known as the State of Israel after the Nakba of 1948. They make up about 20% of Israel, and whilst they technically hold citizenship of Israel, including the right to vote, they face widespread discrimination.
Some Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are deeply concerned that the forcible evictions in Sheikh Jarrah are only a prelude to future evictions from their own homes. These concerns were only heightened by news of Israelis breaking into Palestinian homes such as in Haifa to assault the Palestinian residents within.
Far right and overtly racist Israeli groups have mobilised to stoke civil unrest. In one message, the racist football hooligan group La Familia called on supporters to go to Jaffa to invade “Arab” homes and stab the occupants.
In the city of Lod, a pregnant Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship was attacked and suffered serious head injuries. The mother was 39 weeks pregnant, and doctors have managed to successfully deliver her baby, although she remains critically unwell.
Unlike in previous conflicts, Israel is struggling to win the information war. More and more news outlets are beginning to provide a more balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the monumental disparity in arms and power. Celebrities such as Trevor Noah, Rihanna, Mark Ruffalo, and Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis have spoken out against Israeli aggression. American-Israeli actor Natalie Portman has also voiced her concern.
Mark Ruffalo tweeted:
1500 Palestinians face expulsion in #Jerusalem. 200 protesters have been injured. 9 children have been killed. Sanctions on South Africa helped free its black people – it’s time for sanctions on Israel to free Palestinians. Join the call. #SheikhJarrah https://t.co/f9R6LYljez
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) May 11, 2021
Oscar winner Viola Davis wrote: “Let’s talk about what’s going on in Sheikh Jarrah”
Natalie Portman was also praised after she shared Davis’s Instagram post.
Black Panther and Apollo Creed star Michael B. Jordan also shared a post in solidarity with Palestinians. Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter series, shared a graphic that stated: “what is happening in Palestine is not complicated; it’s settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing.”