The Guardian • Issue #2105

Gaza: blood on West’s hands

Rally for Palestine held on Saturday 22 June Boorloo/Perth.

Rally for Palestine held on Saturday 22 June Boorloo/Perth.

Since 7 October more than 14,000 children have been slaughtered by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. An estimated 4,000 children are buried under rubble, and 17,000 or more are unaccompanied. Another 21,000 are missing as Israel continues its genocidal assault on the Palestinian people.

Save the Children also reports that an unknown number have been “detained and forcibly transferred out of Gaza, their whereabouts unknown to their families amidst reports of ill-treatment and torture.”

Countless others experience devastating psychological and physical trauma that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

There’s a high risk of famine as more than 495,000 Palestinians are experiencing “catastrophic” food shortages, a draft of a new report by UN and humanitarian agencies says.

“As we mourn the lives lost, we think about how much worse it has to get before the world finally says enough is enough. How many more people must die? How many more children have to lose their mothers, fathers, and body parts? How many more hospitals need to be turned into killing fields?” asks Haya Ismail, a young Palestinian writer and English literature student in Gaza.

“How many more massacres must we endure?”

“However tired, sick, and angry we are, we still go from one ‘safe zone’ to the next and back again – because we want to be safe and we want our families to be safe.

“We want to live,” Ismail said in an emotional plea.

“Had it not been for the help of powerful countries, Israel would not have been able to carry out this perpetual occupation as aggressively as it has,” Navi Pillay, the chairperson of the UN’s commission of inquiry into the war in Gaza, said.

The inquiry accused the Israeli government of “extermination,” “war crimes,” and “crimes against humanity.”

“The only conclusion you can draw is that the Israeli army is one of the most criminal armies in the world,” said commission member Chris Sidoti.

“One million people in southern Gaza are trapped without clean water or sanitation in a highly congested area along the beach in the burning summer heat. We drove through rivers of sewage,” said UN World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau during a visit.

MASSACRES ESCALATE

In a raid on Al Nuseirat refugee camp on 8 June, Israeli forces killed 274 people including at least 64 children, and injured at least 700 more in about an hour. Israeli forces were “perfidiously hiding in an aid truck,” UN Special Rapporteur of the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese said, “This is ‘humanitarian camouflage’ at another level.” Israel has denied the accusation. It always denies.

“It adds insult to injury that influential governments are trying to frame this operation – this massacre against a refugee camp – as a ‘rescue mission.’ Murdering more than 270 displaced and innocent people living in unthinkable conditions can never justify a rescue mission. (This) could have been achieved instead by accepting ceasefire resolutions linked to reasonable demands,” Ismail said.

Israel hailed the rescue of four people as “a great success!”

The attack follows Israeli assaults on the Shati refugee camp and the Tuffah neighbourhood in Gaza City that killed at least 42 people.

A Red Cross official said “there were piles of dead bodies, blood everywhere” after an Israeli air raid near the charity’s compound in the so-called ‘safe zone’ in the al-Mawasi area killed at least 25 people.

TENSIONS WITH LEBANON

Since the beginning of its genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel has exchanged almost daily fire with Hezbollah across the border with Lebanon. Israeli air strikes and shelling have killed more than 350 people in southern Lebanon including civilians. Hezbollah rockets have killed 10 Israeli civilians and 15 Israeli soldiers.

There has been an escalation following Israel’s assassination of Taleb Abdullah, a senior Hezbollah commander, and the release of drone footage of military sites and civilian infrastructure in Haifa by Hezbollah.

Israel is ready for an “all-out war” in Lebanon and has plans approved for an offensive targeting Hezbollah, officials have said.

“We are very close to the moment of decision to change the rules against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In an all-out war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be severely hit,” an Israeli official said.

“Operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated, and decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field,” a statement issued by Ori Gordin, head of Israel’s Northern Command said.

Hezbollah warned “no place” in Israel would be spared in the event of a full-blown war, and threatened nearby Cyprus if it opened its airports and bases to Israel.

“Let’s be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed.

“One rash move – one miscalculation – could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination,” he said.

“The world must say loudly and clearly: immediate de-escalation is not only possible – it is essential,” Guterres said, declaring that “there is no military solution.”

The Zionist agenda of Greater Israel (Eretz Yisrael) includes swathes of territory from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, as well as the occupied territories and Israel itself.

While attention has been focused on Gaza, there has been a surge of settler vigilante violence in the West Bank where military raids and arrests have claimed the lives of over 500 Palestinians and led to the arbitrary detention of thousands more, including children.

PROTESTS

Western governments, including Australia’s, continue to supply Israel with weapons while repeating the falsehoods that Israel is ‘acting in self-defence’ and that it is a ‘rescue operation.’ They have the power to halt the war crimes, to defend the Palestinians but they look on at these horrors as if they do not exist.

They have blood on their hands.

At the same time, the people of these same countries take to the streets in their millions every week in support of Palestinians, calling for the genocide to cease. The student encampments have spread around the world.

In Australia, the demonstrations continue with thousands of people still turning up every week after almost 9 months.

In Israel hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets demanding elections, the removal of Prime Minister Netanyahu, an end to Israel’s war on Gaza, and the safe return of the Israeli captives.

TIME TO ACT

“Israel must immediately stop its military operations and attacks in Gaza, including the assault on Rafah,” said the chair of the United Nations commission that carried out the investigation.

Hang your heads in shame, PM Anthony Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Defence Minister Richard Marles and all those Labor, Coalition and independent members of Parliament who support genocide of Palestinians and falsely claim support for Palestinians is antisemitic.

Support for Palestinians is NOT antisemitic. It is anti-Zionist.

More strength to Labor Senator Fatima Payman who has bravely spoken out against the genocide. Payman has written that “Australia must reinforce the fundamental moral principle at the heart of the conflict: the right to self-determination.” On 25 June Payman crossed the floor in support of a Greens motion for Palestinian self-determination.

UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese summed it up: “Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza is an escalatory stage of a long-standing settler colonial process of erasure.”

The Australian government must call for:

  • An immediate and permanent ceasefire
  • The free flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza
  • The withdrawal of all Israeli military forces
  • The release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel under arbitrary detention, including women and children, in exchange for hostages held by Hamas
  • It must cease diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, end the export of weapons or weapon parts to Israel, and recognise the state of Palestine in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

Readers can join the Boycott Disinvest Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Companies being targeted by the BDS include Siemens, Soda Stream, Puma, and HP, as well as products labelled ‘from Israel.’

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