I want to state the following as clearly and unequivocally as possible: Israel, with the help of the US, is deliberating starving the population of Gaza to death.

The (manmade) famine conditions unfolding in Gaza are, many experts have noted, “unprecedented” in terms of their severity, speed and scale.

“We have never seen children pushed into malnutrition so quickly in any conflict in modern history,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, has said. “We have never seen a civilian population made to go so hungry so quickly and so completely … Israel is not just targeting civilians, it is trying to damn the future of the Palestinian people by harming their children.”

Not only is Israel blocking aid from getting to Gaza, it is making the process of getting what little aid does get in deadly. In a statement on Tuesday UN experts accused Israel of “intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October”, adding: “Now it is targeting civilians seeking humanitarian aid and humanitarian convoys.”

That statement was in reference to what is being called the Flour Massacre. Last Thursday at least 112 Palestinians were killed and 760 were injured in a desperate attempt to get flour. Witnesses say Israel opened fire on the crowd and caused panic, resulting in a stampede. This wasn’t a one-off: there is an established pattern of Israeli forces attacking Palestinians who are trying to get aid.

Again, I’m trying to state all this as clearly and unequivocally as possible because the US government, and large swathes of the US media, would have you believe the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is inscrutable and unavoidable. There seems to be a widespread attitude that while it’s terribly sad innocent people are being bombed to oblivion and starved to death, this is just the sort of inevitable collateral damage that happens in a conflict.

When Hillary Clinton was recently asked if she was shocked by casualties in Gaza, for example, she said: “Of course, I’m not shocked because that’s what happens in war.”

Let’s be clear: collective punishment is not war. Starving people to death is not war. Bulldozing cemeteries is not war. Firing on humanitarian convoys is not war. All of those things are war crimes. International law is very clear about this. (And, by the way, American politicians are also very clear about this when the perpetrator of these crimes isn’t an ally.)

And yet clarity has become another casualty in this conflict. A lot of the US media has this curious habit of using straightforward English when it comes to talking about most things, but retreating into the verbal equivalent of interpretative dance when describing violence perpetrated by Israel. Headlines are often so vague they read like a murder mystery. See, for example, this headline from the New York Times about the Flour Massacre: “Deaths of Gazans Desperate for Food Prompt Fresh Calls for Cease-Fire.” One gets the impression that these Palestinians just mysteriously flopped to the ground.

Another hallmark of US coverage of Israel-Palestine is to ensure the reader knows, at every point, that even if an Israeli soldier fired a bullet, a Palestinian was almost certainly to blame. See, for example, this paragraph from an analysis of the Flour Massacre in the New York Times: More than 100 were killed and 700 injured, Gazan health officials said, after thousands of hungry civilians rushed at a convoy of aid trucks, leading to a stampede and prompting Israeli soldiers to fire at the crowd.”

That framing is insidious: it casts the blame squarely on Palestinians. They started it, the framing insinuates, Israel just retaliated in self-defence. Those crazy Palestinians! They’re always finding new ways to massacre themselves!

It is impossible to overstate just how dire the situation in Gaza is right now. “Unless something changes, the world faces the prospect of almost a quarter of Gaza’s 2 million population – close to half a million human beings – dying within a year,” Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, wrote back in December.

It’s March now, and nothing has changed; things have only got worse. The US continues to send extraordinary amounts of weapons to Israel, using legal loopholes to keep these arms sales under the radar. The US continues to attach no conditions to the military aid it gives Israel. It continues to shut down any criticism of Israel, including a UN resolution that would have condemned Israel for the Flour Massacre. It continues to enable plausible genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the face of a catastrophic famine, all the US has done is airdrop a pitiful amount of food and made half-baked plans to build a floating port. Performative doesn’t even cover it.

Writers haven’t been (completely) replaced with AI yet. We are human beings, not robots; we feel things. I will be frank: it is almost unbearably painful, as someone of Palestinian heritage, to write about what’s happening in Gaza. Not just because it involves reading about unspeakable horrors, but because it seems like everything I write about Gaza boils down to a plea for people to view Palestinians as humans. Do you know how debasing that is? Do you know what it feels like to have to beg people to see you as someone deserving of dignity and freedom? I know that I’m not alone when I say that the last five months have permanently altered how I see the world. They have hollowed me out.

Of course, writing about what’s happening is a luxury compared to living it. The pain I feel is nothing compared to Rania Abu Anza, who spent 10 years trying to get pregnant then lost her five-month old twins and husband in an Israeli airstrike. It’s nothing compared to the 700,000 women and girls in Gaza who are trying to manage their menstrual cycles in camps where there is only one toilet for 486 people. It’s nothing to the nightmare that 2 million people in Gaza are living every day.

Watching what is happening in Gaza feels almost too painful to bear sometimes, but it is important that none of us look away. I’m writing this on International Women’s Day (IWD) and I want to stress that bearing witness is a fundamentally feminist act. Opposing oppression everywhere is a feminist act. If you want to honour the original radical and anti-war spirit of IWD, please do not look away from Gaza. Raise your voice and make sure nobody in the future can ever say: ‘I didn’t know.’

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The Week in Patriarchy Opposing oppression is a feminist act – don’t look away from Gaza

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09.03.2024

I want to state the following as clearly and unequivocally as possible: Israel, with the help of the US, is deliberating starving the population of Gaza to death.

The (manmade) famine conditions unfolding in Gaza are, many experts have noted, “unprecedented” in terms of their severity, speed and scale.

“We have never seen children pushed into malnutrition so quickly in any conflict in modern history,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, has said. “We have never seen a civilian population made to go so hungry so quickly and so completely … Israel is not just targeting civilians, it is trying to damn the future of the Palestinian people by harming their children.”

Not only is Israel blocking aid from getting to Gaza, it is making the process of getting what little aid does get in deadly. In a statement on Tuesday UN experts accused Israel of “intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October”, adding: “Now it is targeting civilians seeking humanitarian aid and humanitarian convoys.”

That statement was in reference to what is being called the Flour Massacre. Last Thursday at least 112 Palestinians were killed and 760 were injured in a desperate attempt to get flour. Witnesses say Israel opened fire on the crowd and caused panic, resulting in a stampede. This wasn’t a one-off: there is an established pattern of Israeli forces attacking Palestinians who are trying to get aid.

Again, I’m trying to state all this as clearly and unequivocally as possible because the US government, and large swathes of the US media, would have you believe the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is inscrutable and unavoidable. There seems to be a widespread attitude that while it’s terribly sad innocent people are being bombed to oblivion and starved to death, this is just the sort of inevitable collateral damage that happens in a conflict.

When Hillary Clinton was recently asked if she was shocked by casualties in........

© The Guardian


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