Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with yet more airstrikes last weekend—just days after passing a new law that confirmed its existence as a racist state.
Four people were killed by Israel’s assault—the latest in an escalation of violence against Palestinians that began in March this year.
Israel has routinely shot and killed Palestinians as they protest along the border fence that holds them in. They are trapped in Gaza, which has been under siege for more than a decade. One Palestinian protester died from his wounds on Monday after being shot on an earlier protest.
In a separate incident Israeli soldiers killed 15 year old Arkan Thaer Mezher during a raid on a refugee camp in Bethlehem early on Monday morning.
Last weekend’s airstrikes came after a Palestinian sniper shot one of the Israeli soldiers enforcing the siege.
The soldier is the only Israeli to have been killed in “clashes” with Palestinians in Gaza since March. In contrast, 147 Palestinians have been killed in the protests—often by snipers.
Speaking after the airstrikes, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman hinted at a massacre of civilians in Gaza.
“We will have to embark on a broad and painful military operation, not only for appearances,” he said. “Residents of Gaza will be among those who will have to pay the price.”
His words came just days after his government passed a law entrenching discrimination against Arabs into its constitution.
The new “nation state” bill says that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in the land that is formally Israel.
It implicitly denies the same right to the Palestinians who have lived there for hundreds of years before Israel was founded in 1948.
The law also scraps Arabic as an official language of Israel, and insists that all of Jerusalem is the Israeli capital.
As a “basic law” it is treated as a part of Israel’s constitution. It further solidifies the already deep, institutional racism in Israel.
Israel was founded through a process of ethnic cleansing that saw 850,000 Palestinians driven from their homes to ensure the new state had an ethnic majority.
An array of racist laws discriminate against Palestinians in Israel, and prevent those outside Israel from returning. The new law is explicitly designed to ensure Israel keeps that majority amid fears that Palestinians may one day outnumber Israelis.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed this by saying the racist legislation reaffirmed the principles on which Israel was founded.
“With this law we determined the founding principle of our existence,” he said.
Suhad Banna, who lives in the city of Tel Aviv, said the legislation made her feel like a “class B citizen”.
“The ironic thing is that Israel is calling itself a democratic state,” she said. “I have no idea how it’s a democratic state after this bill. What democratic state are they are talking about?”