Genocide in Gaza

15 October 2023

Across the Arab world, the talk is of genocide being committed against the Palestinians. In view of Israel’s current offensive (and indeed its past practice), it’s difficult not to invoke the conditions, agreed in the 1948 Genocide Convention, that are considered sufficient to satisfy the crime:

“Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, including “killing members of the group”, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” and “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

The acts are incontestable: a total siege of the Gaza Strip, cutting off food, fuel, electricity and water to 2.3 million people; the displacement of close to half the population; thousands of airstrikes that have wiped out markets, residential neighbourhoods, places of worship, schools, health facilities; hundreds of civilians being killed daily; thousands of casualties.

As for intent, judge the words from Israeli establishment voices:

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly”—Yoav Gallant, Israel’s war minister.

“It’s time to kiss doomsday. Shooting powerful missiles without limit. Not flattening a neighbourhood. Crushing and flattening Gaza ... with penetrating bombs. Without mercy! Without mercy!”—Revital Gotliv, Israeli member of parliament.

“Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48. Nakba in Gaza and Nakba to anyone who dares to join!”—Ariel Kallner, Israeli member of parliament.

“We must create an unprecedented humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The ultimate tool—damage to the water system. Only the mobilisation of tens of thousands and the cry of the international community will create the leverage for Gaza to be either without Hamas or without people”—Giora Eiland, former Israeli military general.

If this isn’t the language of genocide, what is?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel is going to destroy Hamas. Not wound it or teach it a lesson—wipe it out. How many casualties will the resistance and the population of Gaza sustain?

The 1982 war to drive the Palestine Liberation Organisation out of Lebanon cost perhaps 20,000 Palestinian lives. The Palestinians have sustained thousands of losses since then.

But if Netanyahu and the Israeli establishment are serious about annihilating Hamas, the military wing of which reportedly has 40,000 under arms, then the horrors witnessed in the first week of the siege and bombing campaign will be just the beginning of a catastrophic mass murder.

When oppressor nations have gotten serious about destroying liberation organisations with deep roots in a nationally oppressed population, the results usually have been devastating for the oppressed as a whole—because the target of violence has been the movement for liberation itself, not simply its organisational expression.

That’s precisely the case here. Israel says it will crush Hamas—but it spent the best part of 40 years crushing the movement before Hamas was even founded. Palestinian aspirations are the real target here.

Western politicians have rushed to back the Israeli government’s criminal response, offering moral and/or material support, from lighting up public buildings with the Israeli flag, to sending warships, as the US and the UK have, to the eastern Mediterranean.

“I wonder how many of those who decided to don the Parliament House in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris with the colors of the Israeli flag truly understand how this seemingly symbolic gesture is received in Israel”, asked Israeli historian Illan Pappé in a recent piece for the Palestine Chronicle.

“Even liberal Zionists, with a modicum of decency, read this act as a total absolution of all the crimes Israelis have committed against the Palestinian people since 1948; and therefore, as a carte blanche to continue with the genocide that Israel is now perpetrating against the people of Gaza.”

But the Western politicians know exactly what they are doing: they have greenlighted the obliteration of Gaza and they have coordinated a massive ideological and political offensive across the Western world—regurgitating long-discredited canards about the nature of the conflict and repeating grossly racist and dehumanising tropes about the Palestinians in particular and Arabs and Muslims in general.

Zionists often accuse pro-Palestinian activists of using “codes” to conceal their real, violent intentions. But “respectable” figures in Western politics are now making only token efforts, if any at all, to conceal their enthusiastic endorsement of monstrous Israeli violence.

“We are fighting a religious war, and I am on Israel’s side. Israel needs to do whatever it takes, raze this place to the ground”, senior US Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News last week.

They are justifying in advance the atrocities that are still to come, buttering up Western liberal audiences for the body count and trying to intimidate anyone from speaking out about it.

Red Flag since our inception has stood on the side of the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli apartheid, colonisation and oppression. We have endeavoured to set the record straight on the conflict. In the coming weeks and months we will redouble our efforts to cut against the slanders and lies of the corporate media, while continuing to demand freedom for Palestine.

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