The relentless and merciless military campaign by the Israeli Forces in north, middle, and south Gaza continues unabated, inflicting unimaginable suffering upon innocent people who have been ruthlessly uprooted and forced to flee for their lives. These operations, which have the hallmarks of genocide, leave no location untouched by terror and insecurity. Currently, 1.9 million out of the 2.2 million Palestinians are victims of merciless confinement in ever-shrinking and unhygienic spaces in the desolate region of southern Gaza.

By Themba Khumalo

Every year, on15 May, millions of Palestinians worldwide observe the Nakba, which translates to “catastrophe” in Arabic. This day serves as a solemn remembrance of the tragic events of 1948 when Palestine endured ethnic cleansing and profound societal devastation.

The Palestinian people have been experiencing displacement and the loss of their homeland for 75 years now.

On the 15th, the birth of the State of Israel brought about immense hardship for the Palestinian people. The creation of Israel was a sadistic event, marked by the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their ancestral land to establish a state with a predominantly Jewish population, aligning with the aspirations of the Zionist movement.

Between 1947 and 1949, a substantial number of Palestinians, totalling 750,000 individuals and representing a significant segment of the 1.9 million population, were compelled to leave their native land. This displacement occurred due to the actions of Zionist forces, who took control of more than three-quarters of historic Palestine, resulting in the obliteration of roughly 530 communities and the devastating loss of approximately 15,000 Palestinian lives in a series of mass atrocities, including over 70 massacres.

Much as May 15, 1948, the Nakba was officially designated as a day of commemoration, the forced expulsion of Palestinians had already commenced well before then. By that time, a considerable number of Palestinian refugees had been forcibly removed from their homeland by armed Zionist groups. These paramilitary groups carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing through widespread attacks to forcibly remove Palestinians from their communities to establish the Jewish state, resulting in the Nakba.

The ongoing oppression and dispossession of Palestinians by Israel continue to this day, albeit in a more severe and genocidal manner than during the Nakba.

Israel’s brutal and deadly effort to remove Palestinians from their land and possibly force them out to Egypt is just another tragic episode in the ongoing Nakba.

For the past two months, the people of Gaza have been enduring relentless bombardment from Israel, facing collective punishment and suffering death, siege, destruction, and deprivation of basic human necessities like food, water, and life-saving medical supplies on a massive scale. The people of Gaza are living in a deepening horror that seems never-ending.

As the UN Security Council twiddles its thumbs, failing to secure a much-needed ceasefire in Gaza, relief organisations are inundated with heartbreaking stories of families enduring days without basic necessities like food, shelter, water, and healthcare, even in supposed ‘safe zones’.

The UN’s continued inaction is a devastating blow to the well-being of children. Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children and families is akin to trapping them like caged birds in supposedly safe zones that are actually zones of despair and death. In Gaza, children and families are forced to search the streets for food necessities, while Israeli restrictions suffocate their chances of receiving vital humanitarian assistance.

New findings have brought to light alarming conditions in the camps and shelters where more than a million displaced people are seeking refuge. The situation is dire, with hundreds of individuals forced to use a single toilet. The sanitation facilities are inadequate, leading to a staggering accumulation of around 400,000 kilograms of waste per day – equivalent to the weight of 9,000 toilets. This is a major threat to the health and safety of children and families, as the risk of diseases like Hepatitis A escalates in these increasingly cramped ‘safe spaces’.

The relentless assault and killing of the people in Gaza should be recognised and comprehended as a clear-cut example of genocide playing out right before us.

Referring to the heart-wrenching events in that region as an Israeli-Palestinian conflict is disingenuous and fails to acknowledge the reality of genocide.

The act of genocide, as outlined in international legal statutes, pertains to the deliberate and systematic effort to destroy a specific national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, either in whole or in part. This definition was formalised in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in December 1948.

The UN Genocide Convention identifies five specific actions that constitute genocide. At present, in Gaza, Israel is involved in three of these actions: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

If you have been keeping up with the latest news, it is evident that Israel’s aggressive assault on Gaza is a blatant declaration of its intention to commit genocide.

In October, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant left no room for doubt when he said: “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly.”

The media office of the Gaza government reported two weeks ago that the Israeli army had dropped 40,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip since 7 October, with the apparent intention of making the area unsuitable for human habitation.

In October, Human Rights Watch confirmed the use of phosphorous bombs, which resulted in the ignition of structures and human bodies, producing water-resistant flames. This action validates Gallant’s claim of “acting accordingly”. It indicates that the attacks are not solely directed at individual Hamas militants, as claimed by Israel but rather involve the use of deadly force against the Palestinian population in Gaza as a whole.

Israel’s leaders are not the only ones speaking about exterminating the Palestinians. According to reports, an interviewee on the pro-Netanyahu Channel 14 called for the Israel Defence Force to “turn Gaza into Dresden.” (During World War II, the aerial bombardment of Dresden by American and British forces resulted in the deaths of an estimated 25,000 individuals, predominantly civilians, and the complete devastation of the city.)

Channel 12, described as the most widely viewed television news station in Israel, aired a segment about some Israelis calling to “dance on what used to be Gaza”.

There has also been a proliferation of violent rhetoric, including calls to “erase” and “flatten” Gaza, across Israeli social media platforms.

Furthermore, banners with the messages “Victory Picture Zero Population in Gaza” and “Annihilation of Gaza” were spotted displayed on a bridge on Ayalon Street in Tel Aviv. The picture of the banners went viral on X.

The genocide of the people of Gaza is happening openly, boldly, and without any expression of remorse. Genocide perpetrators seldom openly articulate their intentions like Israel.

 There are those who argue that using the term genocide, particularly in relation to Gaza, is controversial. But must we wait until a genocide loses its stench before acknowledging it? This mindset only perpetuates denial.

When it comes to Gaza, there is a moral double standard in Western thinking that prevents us from acknowledging the harm inflicted on Palestinians. However, it is essential to call out injustice to seek justice.

If the global community truly wants to address its wrongdoings, then discussing the ongoing genocide in Gaza is more than just a matter of semantics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *