Signs of starvation are becoming visible now in the faces of Gazans. In the news pictures, we see how their cheek bones protrude sharply under eyes hollow with trauma. How listless the children appear amid the dust of destruction as famine looms.

With each week that passes, the resemblance to the emaciated prisoners of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen grows stronger. It is a terrifying realisation that Israel, created after the horrors of the Holocaust as a sanctuary state for Jewish people, is massacring another innocent people with self-righteous entitlement.

It is reported that replica soldiers’ uniforms are among the most popular children’s party costumes in Israel. On the other side of the fence, in Gaza, children are being slaughtered, starved, orphaned, shell-shocked, and maimed for life. Here is living proof that man never learns from his inhumanity to man.

The difference this time is that we on the outside looking in cannot say we did not know. As we watch in powerless horror, we might wonder if our forebears would have had any hope of stopping the Holocaust had they known about the barbarity being perpetrated in Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.

This thought too is a terrifying realisation, driven home by the impotence of international citizens’ protests calling for an end to the carnage in Gaza, just as simultaneous peace marches failed to stop the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when an estimated 36 million people protested across the globe.

And what will we do when the Israeli Defence Forces start their ground invasion of Rafah, as Binyamin Netanyahu says he is determined to pursue? Having forced more than half of Gaza’s population into the southern city, cornering them at the junction where the world’s biggest open prison meets the Egyptian border, Israel is loading up its weapons and its US-supplied weapons to complete its “extermination” of Hamas.

A ground offensive in Rafah would be “a mistake” according to Jake Sullivan, the White House national security spokesman. A mistake is forgetting to bring milk from the shop or assuming someone else put the bins out. A war crime is never a mistake.

Today is day 168 of the onslaught on Gaza.. By Wednesday of this week, 31,923 individuals had perished – not including those believed buried beneath the rubble of missile explosions – and 74,096 others were wounded, according to the Hamas-controlled Gazan authorities.

This continuing killing spree began after the incursion by Hamas and other militants into Israel on October 7th, when they killed about 1,200 people, including nearly 800 civilians, and kidnapped 253 others, according to the Israeli government.

In the eyes of the so-called “international community” – the US, UK, EU, et al – the October atrocity appears to have granted Israel a licence for mass killing under the cloak of “self defence”. Like the chief usher in a theatre, Joe Biden waved Netanyahu onward to do his damnedest in Gaza, filling his arms with weapons rather than popcorn.

“There is no question of balance. I stand with Israel,” proclaimed Rishi Sunak in London at the outset. “There is only one place and that is alongside Israel,” said Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

In the early months, no consideration was given to the context of the hostilities; no mention by those allied leaders of the illegal settlements in occupied territories, the confiscation of Palestinian farmers’ lands, the blockade on Gaza, or the incarceration of minors and children for throwing stones or, in some cases, for doing nothing.

On Monday night, RTÉ screened footage of a boy in the West Bank peering around a corner to see what was going on, and getting shot for it. When his father ran to his rescue, he too was shot, and killed.

It was foreseeable from the outset that licensing the trigger-happy to kill at will would exacerbate the situation, not solve it. The two-state solution is less achievable as a consequence. Many Palestinians are justifiably angry with western leaders who have treated their lives and the lives of their children as disposable; lives deemed eligible for obliteration as a “proportionate” response to October 7th. Lives so unimportant that the US repeatedly used its UN veto to quash demands for a ceasefire or even a “humanitarian pause”.

Joe Biden wants to be seen as the peacemaker talking Netanyahu down from his planned assault on Rafah but he is doing it while, at the same time, supplying arms to Israel’s war machine. The people of Gaza can recognise this hypocrisy dressed up as virtue, and they will not forget it.

Time and again, men and women staggering through the wreckage of Gaza city, Khan Yunis and Jabilia – these placenames that have become so familiar – have told reporters they feel abandoned by the outside world as they struggle to keep themselves and their children alive. In recent vox pops in the West Bank, Palestinians have said they could not bear a two-state construction whereby they would have to reside in semidetached accommodation with a country that is killing tens of thousands of their people.

The Genocide Convention states that it is exactly such a crime to deliberately inflict conditions of life that are “calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. That is precisely what we have been witnessing for months, while Washington, London, Berlin, Paris and Brussels were cheering it on.

There is much talk about “the day after” and what plans are being hatched to administer Gaza when the onslaught ends. To expect that new police uniforms and new livery on sanitation trucks will bring stability is as naive as the thinking in October that razing the strip to the ground would bring peace.

The first thing that will have to be built is trust but, after the “international community’s” betrayal of Gaza, that will be a monumental challenge. So formidable, in fact, that it will probably be easier for everyone to go on killing everyone else in the great tradition of man’s inhumanity to man.

QOSHE - We know what’s going on in Gaza, and won’t be able to say we didn’t - Justine Mccarthy
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We know what’s going on in Gaza, and won’t be able to say we didn’t

12 10
22.03.2024

Signs of starvation are becoming visible now in the faces of Gazans. In the news pictures, we see how their cheek bones protrude sharply under eyes hollow with trauma. How listless the children appear amid the dust of destruction as famine looms.

With each week that passes, the resemblance to the emaciated prisoners of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen grows stronger. It is a terrifying realisation that Israel, created after the horrors of the Holocaust as a sanctuary state for Jewish people, is massacring another innocent people with self-righteous entitlement.

It is reported that replica soldiers’ uniforms are among the most popular children’s party costumes in Israel. On the other side of the fence, in Gaza, children are being slaughtered, starved, orphaned, shell-shocked, and maimed for life. Here is living proof that man never learns from his inhumanity to man.

The difference this time is that we on the outside looking in cannot say we did not know. As we watch in powerless horror, we might wonder if our forebears would have had any hope of stopping the Holocaust had they known about the barbarity being perpetrated in Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.

This thought too is a terrifying realisation, driven home by the impotence of international citizens’ protests calling for an end to the carnage in Gaza, just as simultaneous peace marches failed to stop the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when an estimated 36 million people protested across the globe.

And what will we........

© The Irish Times


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