Gaza ‘exhausted, degraded, humiliated’

12 May 2024
A man collects belongings from a house in eastern Rafah after it was bombed by Israel on 5 May PHOTO: Abed Rahim Khatib/DPA

The Palestinian population of Gaza is “exhausted, degraded, humiliated”, UN Relief and Works Agency Director Sam Rose said on 11 May. “We’ve suffered relentless artillery strikes, air strikes, tank shells over the past four or five days”, he related in an interview with US news network CNN.

The agency also reported that 300,000 Palestinians had been newly displaced in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, and Jabalia refugee camp in the north. Palestinians have fled for their lives as Israeli bombs pound eastern Rafah and as soldiers invaded the area.

Israel seized and closed the Rafah Crossing, at the border with Egypt, earlier last week, which has compounded the humanitarian crisis. “The closure of the crossings means no fuel. It means no trucks, no generators, no water, no electricity and no movement of people or goods”, said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. “Civilians in Gaza are being starved and killed, and we are prevented from helping them.”

Rafah has just one functioning hospital—the Kuwaiti hospital, which has only sixteen beds. Prior to the latest incursion, Jamal al-Hams, a doctor there, told the Electronic Intifada that the hospital was treating 1,000 people with infectious diseases per day.

But on the weekend, Kuwaiti came under an Israeli “evacuation order”. So it too could be destroyed, like so many others. The World Health Organization in January reported at least 340 Israeli attacks on healthcare infrastructure in the besieged territory. Just thirteen of 77 primary healthcare facilities were operational and more than 600 medical workers had been killed.

The latest ground invasion comes as the Palestinian Health Ministry revealed that more than 520 bodies have now been recovered from seven mass graves at hospitals in Gaza. The graves began to be uncovered after Israeli troops in April withdrew from sections of the territory to prepare for the final assault on Rafah.

After seven months of brutality, in which Israel has slaughtered at least 35,000, a political crisis has engulfed the Zionist state’s key backer, the United States. But it hasn’t stopped the ongoing support for the genocide.

The White House and Congress have authorised vast amounts of military hardware to Israel, including 900-kilogram bombs that have reduced whole neighbourhoods to rubble. President Joe Biden recently signed a bill approving another US$26 billion in supplementary aid, most of it military.

News on 8 May that the US government is delaying the sale of 3,500 bombs, including precision weapons, due to the Rafah offensive, will be cold comfort to those facing endless volleys of missiles and mortars which might become even more indiscriminate in their targeting.

“The US is threatening not to give us precise missiles. Oh, yeah? Well, I got news for the US. We have imprecise missiles”, Tally Gotlive, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, told Israeli TV after the announcement.

“So, maybe instead of using a precise missile and take down a specific room, or a specific building, I’ll use my imprecise missiles, and I’ll just destroy ten buildings. That’s what I’ll do.”

But the move on one particular shipment by the US administration is hardly material. The US has not seriously tried to stop the genocide at any point. Only under growing popular pressure—and possibly out of fear for the damage that Israel is doing to itself, not the damage it is inflicting on Gaza—has the president attempted to look like a humanitarian.

Indeed, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed under Senate questioning that the recently approved $26 billion in aid will not be affected at all. Nor will the more than $3 billion in regular annual aid be reviewed. That support, the Council on Foreign Relations notes, “is provided as grants under the Foreign Military Financing program, funds that Israel must use to purchase US military equipment and services”.

So despite some rhetoric, it is business as usual for US and Israeli imperialism.

Meanwhile, those opposing the genocide in the US are coming under increasing attack. More than 2,400 students have now been arrested as scores of college campuses are rocked by protests.

The House of Representatives has now passed the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” by a margin of 320 to 91. Prior to the vote, the American Civil Liberties Union warned that the bill “would likely chill free speech of students on college campuses by incorrectly equating criticism of the Israeli government with anti-Semitism”.

But of course, that’s the point. In the world of official US politics, genocide is a lesser crime than criticism of Israel.

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