A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh

Photo by David Berkowitz | CC BY 2.0

It is a bloody hot summer in Gaza. And the events surrounding the killings of nearly 60 Palestinians and wounding of more than a thousand by the Israeli army on the day Israel and the Trump administration celebrated the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem are as shocking as they are of profound importance in Middle Eastern history. The one-sided nature of the encounter is illustrated by the fact that there were no casualties on the Israeli side.

Scenes of Palestinian men and women of all ages, barely armed with stones and burning tyres in a futile attempt to form a protective shield, were reminiscent of the massacres in Sharpeville and Soweto townships in apartheid South Africa in 1960 and 1976 respectively and the Jallianwala Bagh in India under British colonial rule in 1919.

These are three of the most infamous acts written in blood in history. But the truth is that when these massacres were committed, reaction was one of suppressed rage and resignation.

During the Cold War, the West viewed South Africa’s apartheid regime as a convenient bulwark against the expansion of Soviet influence. The African National Congress and its leaders were “terrorists”. In Sharpeville, the South African Police fired on a black crowd demonstrating against “pass laws” designed to control movement of people of other races. In the massacre which took place outside a police station, 69 black people were killed and nearly 300…

Read more