Middle EastNews

Israel’s Attacks on Gaza: An Unpunished Genocide Continues

“The hospitals, because of the siege, are so short of supplies that we had to clean a teenage girl with 70% body surface burns with regular soap because the hospital is out of chlorohexidine (antiseptic).”

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“The hospitals, because of the siege, are so short of supplies that we had to clean a teenage girl with 70% body surface burns with regular soap because the hospital is out of chlorohexidine (antiseptic).”

Following the surprising launch of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood inside Israel by Palestinian resistance group Hamas, killing at least 1,400 Israelis and taking dozens in the Gaza Strip, Gazan Palestinians have been subject to daily bombings since 7 October.

Hamas’s surprise attack on 7 October came after Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a series of Israeli violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied West Bank.¬†

The Palestinian resistance group took several Israeli civilians hostage to bargain and convince Israel to release Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails without charge.

The growing settler violence in the occupied West Bank backed by the far-right Israeli government and the recent normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, which dimmed any hope for a liberated Palestine, has mainly sparked the will for Hamas to provide a strong and coordinated response.

After Hamas’s unprecedented attack that took several months, Netayahu’s government intensified bombardment on the Gaza Strip, an open-air prison under blockade for 18 years, cutting off electricity and water while preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the enclave where 2,2 million people live, including 1 million children.

Public health officials in Gaza have said that several factors – lack of water, contamination of several neighbourhoods by sewage, and the inability to safely preserve the numerous bodies of victims in morgues – risk triggering an epidemic of infectious diseases.

On 9 October, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant¬†declared, “We are fighting against human animals” and vowed to “act accordingly.”

Israeli non-stop bombing and total blockade have exacerbated the long-standing humanitarian crisis resulting from Israel’s illegal 16-year closure of Gaza. More than 80% of Gaza’s population depends on humanitarian aid.¬†

Doctors in Gaza say they cannot treat children and other patients as hospitals are overwhelmed by victims of Israeli airstrikes. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that as of 18 October, at least 3,478 Palestinians had been killed. A Palestinian rights organisation, Defense for Children International ‚Äď Palestine, estimated that more than 1,000 children were among the victims.

The total blockade imposed by Israel on the Population of Gaza is part of the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution that the Israeli authorities commit against the Palestinians. 

Under international human rights law, states must respect water rights, which includes refraining from limiting access to or destroying water services and infrastructure as a punitive measure during armed conflicts and respecting the obligation to protect objects essential to the civilian population’s survival.

Furthermore, in the case of military occupations such as in Gaza, the occupying power has the duty, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to the “fullest extent of the means at its disposal,” to ensure the supply of food to the population and medical products. Starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited and constitutes a war crime.

On 10 October, Ghassan Abu Sitta, a British surgeon who volunteers at al-Shifa Hospital, said in a¬†tweet, “The hospitals, because of the siege, are so short of supplies that we had to clean a teenage girl with 70% body surface burns with regular soap because the hospital is out of chlorohexidine (antiseptic).”¬†

On 14 October, he said in a voice note he shared with Human Rights Watch: “We are now only able to perform the most life-saving surgeries as medical supplies run out, and deaths and injuries increase, leading to a staff shortage.”

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), out of 50,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip, more than 5,500 pregnant women due to give birth next month are facing a failure of health facilities and a lack of vital supplies.

On 18 October, Israel announced that the government would allow the delivery of food, water, and medicine from Egypt to residents of the southern Gaza Strip. 

The situation in Gaza is catastrophic, as described by Cindy McCain, the head of the UN World Food Program (WFP), while only 0.002 percent of aid relief has entered Gaza. Indeed, only 20 aid trucks entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on 20 October.

McCain deemed the 20 aid trucks “a drop in the ocean” during an interview on ABC’s This Week programme.

However, due to the need for more electricity and fuel to operate the local power plant or generators, more is needed to meet the needs of the population of the Gaza Strip.

More Bombings, More Israeli War Crimes

On 17 October, Israel hit al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City, killing hundreds of civilians. While Hamas accused Israel of being behind the strike, the occupying power claimed it was a missed rocket attack by Palestinian fighters. 

According to a spokesperson for the UN’s human rights office, efforts to gather evidence after an independent international investigation was opened were hampered due to Israel’s total siege of the enclave.

Based on Al Jazeera’s digital investigation,¬†no grounds¬†were found to justify that a failed rocket launch caused the strike on the Al Ahli Arab Hospital.¬†

Although Gaza’s health ministry said the explosion of the Al Ahli hospital killed at least 470 people, US intelligence agencies assessed the death toll to be between 100 and 300 people.

Since the start of the fighting on 7 October, triggered by an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel, the Israeli army has continued to commit war crimes daily. Although Israel has vowed to “destroy” Hamas,¬†a series of murderous and genocidal statements emerged recently from Israeli officials. On 19 October, Israeli Knesset Member Zvika Vogel declared that “there is no such thing as innocents in Gaza.”

In addition to civilians, Israel targeted and destroyed several religious sites.

On 20 October, Israel bombed and destroyed the 7th-century Al-Omari Mosque in Gaza, deemed among one of the largest mosques in Palestine, just hours after it targeted the third oldest church in the world in Gaza’s Old City. The originally 5th-century Byzantine church was converted to a mosque during the early years of the Rashidun Caliphate.¬†

The night before, Israel’s Defense Forces bombed the Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrios in Gaza, the world’s third oldest church, killing at least¬†16 Palestinian Christians, according to Gaza health ministry.

The centuries-old church was used to shelter at least 500 displaced Muslim and Christian Gazans.

Gaza: Western Media’s Double Standards

“Do you condemn Hamas?” is how most Western media outlets welcomed Pro-Palestine experts. Instead of focusing on Israel’s war crimes and ongoing occupation, the media has focused on whitewashing Israel’s 75 years of occupation in Palestine.

What is Hamas? Hamas, an Arabic acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement,” emerged in the late 1970s as a response to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 1967. Officially established in December 1987 during the first Intifada, it declared the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation as a religious duty for Muslims.¬†

Over the years, Hamas engaged in political and armed activities, including its first attack on Israel in 1989. In 2005, it entered the political arena and, in 2006, won parliamentary elections, leading to a conflict with rival Fatah, which favoured negotiation. 

Today, Hamas is a contentious entity, designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States. In contrast, others view it as a resistance movement in the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

For decades, Palestinians and their supporters have claimed mainstream Western media are largely biased in favour of Israel.

Drawing on data and anecdotal evidence, many media analysts agree that there is bias even in reputable media outlets like the BBC, despite recent improvements and increased space for voices reflecting the Palestinian point of view. 

On Sunday, Channel 4 News journalist Cathy Newman spoke to the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, immediately after interviewing an Israeli Likud politician. The very first question Ms. Newman asked Mr. Zomlot was whether he condemned the actions of Hamas. The Fatah representative refused to answer the question, explaining:

“The obsession with always blaming the victim, the occupied, the colonised, the besieged, when in fact I didn’t see you asking him [the Likud politician] to condemn […] from your first question the murder of an entire family [in Gaza] that your journalist just mentioned.”

The question posed by Newman is often asked of Palestinians by Western media. In the past, when Israeli airstrikes killed hundreds of Palestinians, Western media focused on Hamas rockets, even when they killed no one. 

Palestinians, even those not affiliated with Hamas, are asked to condemn alleged crimes committed by other Palestinians. In contrast, a politician from Israel’s ruling party is never asked to condemn Israeli crimes.¬†

In the Channel 4 News interview with Mr Zomlot, the presenter’s omissions gave a skewed picture of the situation. The context around Israel, the nuclear-armed, US-backed regional superpower illegally occupying, besieging, and committing documented crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza daily, is completely erased.

Zomlot denounces this depoliticised narrative when the presenter insists on him condemning Hamas and focusing on the hostage-taking.

“Do you know, Cathy, that Israel has taken 2 million people hostage [referring to the siege of Gaza] for 16 years…and yet there is no outcry… ironically enough, these are hostages who take hostages,” he explained.

The language used by the media is also part of the propaganda put forward by the West to cover up Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians.¬†

Indeed, the skewed dynamic portrayed by Western media is that when Israel bombs homes, hospitals, and schools in Gaza, it has the “right to defend itself”, but that any act of violence by a Palestinian is deemed “terrorism.”

The word “terrorist” is used exclusively by the media and politicians to refer to Hamas because it targets civilians. However, it would never be applied to Israel when it appears to have deliberately targeted civilians in Gaza.¬†

Or when it collectively punishes the Palestinians, as it has done for 16 years in Gaza with its suffocating siege. Critics argue that these are acts of state terror and should be described as such and that many of these acts constitute war crimes, even as defined by the United Nations.

Many analysts say that this bias is precisely due to the massive imbalance in power relations between the Palestinians and Israel.

Unlike Palestine, Israel is a West recognised state that maintains close commercial, military, and diplomatic relations with the West. It is often considered a Western democracy amid the “Eastern” autocracies of the Arab-Islamic world. However, it is an occupying power that maintains millions of Palestinians in a state described as “apartheid” by human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

A new dynamic has been forged in recent years through the pro-Israeli bias in Western media. The Palestinians must now resist the Israeli occupation and the anti-Palestinian media propaganda.

On 11 October, during an interview with Israeli reserve soldier David Ben Zion, a tale about beheaded babies by Hamas originated by pro-Israel channel i24News journalist Nicole Zedeck. 

The news has since sparked outrage worldwide as the world’s media, such as CNN, BBC and others, quickly reported on the tale. The fake news has also spread online, influencing millions on social media and reinforcing far-right ideologies or anti-Palestinian and pro-Zionist opinions.

However, the beheaded babies’ tale was false and misleading as¬†no evidence¬†has been found for the beheadings.

According to Hamas’s offer to hand over two hostages with no strings attached, Israel has refused to receive them”. Indeed, in a statement, the Palestinian resistance group said, “We informed Qatar yesterday evening that we would release Nurit Yitzhak IDno. 001145416, and Yochvid Lifshitz, ID No. 005236955, for compelling humanitarian reasons and without compensation. However, the occupation government refused to receive them.”

On 20 October, Hamas liberated two American hostages after Qatar’s mediation. However, Israel is intensifying its attacks on the besieged enclave before planning to proceed with a ground invasion. Since the Hamas attack on 7 October, Israel has targeted and destroyed religious sites, UN schools, bakeries, and hospitals.

As of 22 October, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, Israeli warplanes killed at least 4,651 Palestinians in Gaza and 91 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 1,873 children and 1,023 women, while injuring about 14,245.

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