The persistent violence by Israel has spanned decades, yet the recent escalation, in the aftermath of Hamas’s ‘Operation Al Aqsa’, is unparalleled. The overwhelming evidence of a massive humanitarian crisis in Gaza is deeply shocking and heart-wrenching. This article highlights and denounces Israeli actions that amount to war crimes, while also critiquing the West’s response to these atrocities.
An Israeli official statement claimed they dropped 6,000 bombs within a week. The accompanying photographs showcased densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip – including schools, hospitals, and residential towers – reduced to rubble. For perspective, the month-long bombardment by the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria was less intense compared to the strikes on an area covering just 140 sq miles in Gaza.
As of October 23rd, incessant Israeli onslaught had killed 5087 Palestinians in Gaza alone with 62% being children and women, and injured 15,273, as per the United Nations’ humanitarian coordination office for Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Heavy aerial bombardments, part of the Israeli ‘Iron Swords’ operation, have ravaged the Gaza Strip, leading to the appalling loss of 436 Palestinian civilians including women, children, ambulance workers, doctors and teachers in just the last 24 hours, while referring to them as ‘human animals’.
The Israeli government also coerced 1.1 million people to transfer south within 24 hours, which according to the United Nations human rights office ‘combined with the imposition of a complete siege of Gaza, may not be considered as lawful temporary evacuation and would therefore amount to a forcible transfer of civilians in breach of international law.’
At least 50 families have been erased from the Gaza registry, their lineages destroyed. Additionally, Israel has been found using White Phosphorus on civilians, again. Verified videos by Human Rights Watch show the use of ‘artillery-fired white phosphorus’ shells, an incendiary weapon that causes intense burns deep into human bones. Internationally, its use is prohibited even against military targets situated among civilians. A burn covering just 10% of the body from this substance can be fatal, and survivors often face lifelong afflictions. In these harrowing conditions, 5,552 out of 50,000 pregnant women in the area are anticipated to give birth next month, according to the UN Population Fund. But this ‘Nakba’ or catastrophe is not merely an account of Palestinian suffering since October 7th, rather a continuation of their decades-long pain under Israeli occupation.
Despite these vivid realities, brutal violence against Palestinian civilians seldom receives the same traction as Israel’s ‘defence’ does. Most agree that one should ‘side with the child over the gun; no matter whose child, no matter whose gun’. However, unverified/fake reports of 40 decapitated Israeli babies spread like wildfire on mainstream platforms such as CNN. Thereafter, they were used to justify the illegitimate ‘collective punishment’ of the Gazans, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Contrarily, Western leadership only vaguely condemned violence in Gaza without due attention to the 784 Palestinian children killed around the same time. Israeli Prime Minister also seems to distinguish between ‘children of light and children of darkness.’ And yet, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has received only tepid condemnation from the West.
Instead of heeding UN warnings, the supposed torchbearers of the liberal order and beacon of human rights are enabling this humanitarian disaster with military aid and diplomatic support to Israel. Beyond the ten-year military aid package (2019-2028) amounting to USD 38 billion, purportedly for ‘self-defence’ (a cover for the Military-Industrial Complex), Israel has sought an additional USD 10 billion in emergency military assistance from the United States.
Moreover, the Biden administration has reportedly restricted its diplomats from using the words ‘de-escalation/ceasefire/restoring calm’, indicating the intent to continue this war. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s joint statement with Israeli PM Netanyahu also demonstrates strong backing of Israel. Similarly, President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly supported Israeli acts on her official Twitter handle. Furthermore, Israel’s measures to limit access to essential supplies like food and water, along with its targeting of civilian infrastructure, have met with notably muted criticism, especially when compared to the Western outcry against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. History will regard these global ‘leaders’ as complicit in genocide.
As it goes, it is only a matter of time until the indefensible crimes are shamed globally. However, history will also take note of the selective activism and the persistent financial, military, and diplomatic support that granted impunity to the Zionist regime. In recognition of this blatant duplicity, it is up to the Western population to hold their leaders accountable and to stand for the Palestinian people just as they did for their ‘blue-eyed’ counterparts of European descent in Ukraine. Palestinian voices must be amplified with the same rigour and the international community must demand an immediate ceasefire, extensive humanitarian aid and reparations large enough to compensate for this systematic genocide.
Bakhtawar Iftikhar is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), Islamabad, Pakistan. She can be reached at email@example.com
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