Israel’s Gaza Hospital Attack: Speak Up For Palestine Now!

Gaza Hospital Attack 1

On October 17, 2023, Israeli airstrikes on the Al-Ahli Hospital (Anglical Baptist Hospital) in Gaza City left upwards of 500 people dead. This includes women, children, and men: doctors and nurses, paramedics and so many others whose lives were brutally extinguished in their most vulnerable and terrified moments. This has been an extremely traumatic event for witnesses and survivors with disturbing visuals emerging from the site of the attack. This genocidal aggression by Israel has been condemned as such by prominent voices and ordinary people across the world. While the mainstream media ran with shock propaganda of Hamas having beheaded babies which it later had to deny, it is extremely cautious in how it reacts to Israel’s blatant war crime, revealing itself to be a partisan force in the war of a militarized state against a defenseless people.

Meanwhile, Israel is scurrying to deal with the backlash its actions have generated. It expected to bulldoze over popular opposition with its media muscle and propaganda blitzes since this is not the first time that it has bombed a hospital in Gaza or committed similar egregious acts against the sick and dying, such as issuing farcical ‘evacuation orders’ to patients under treatment before bombing the hospitals they are in. It is unconscionable to deny that Israel is perpetrating war crimes as it has no moral authority or any other legitimacy to be telling Palestinians to vacate their own land amid the destruction it has wilfully caused not just since the past two weeks but over 75 years, something recognized as the war crime of forced transfer of civilians.

The supposed ‘right to exist’ and ‘right to self-defense’ that Israel wants to hide these crimes under are in fact the entitlements of the Palestinian people in their own land, not of an occupying Zionist settler state. And yet, Palestinians are forced to become a spectacle of their own immense suffering to make the world pay even a bit of attention and fight back against the global right-wing’s disinformation and suppression of their voices. In the aftermath of this anti-human atrocity, surviving doctors had to hold a press conference amid piles of dead and mutilated bodies wrapped in white sheets: an unpleasant and mentally damaging sight that we must witness anyway, for looking away is evil at this time.  

U.S.-backed West rejects peace, supports genocide

The horrendous attack on the Al-Ahli hospital, which like other care facilities had been bombarded earlier in recent days as well, is a result of Israel’s absolute confidence in the West’s political and military support. The attack came a day after a UN Security Council resolution moved by Russia that called for ‘Immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire in Israel-Palestine Crisis’ was rejected by the body after being vetoed by The United States, the U.K, France, and Japan. The U.S. said that it voted against the resolution, which Russia calls a “purely humanitarian text”, because it did not condemn Hamas which it terms as the cause of the violence.

But has the U.S. or its ‘partners’ condemned the Israeli defense minister for saying that “we are dealing with human beasts”, a clear-cut case of genocidal language and intent? Where is the condemnation of Israel for the death toll in Gaza which is being counted as over 4,000 people of which thousands are children?  

Hamas has been made a convenient scapegoat to intensify Israeli oppression of Palestine. Electing Hamas in 2007 was used in the rationalization of the ongoing 16-year old illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel which has now been ramped up into a nightmarish enforcement of total thirst and starvation. Despite whatever one might think of its ideology and militancy, the fact is that Israel has outdone whatever it accuses Hamas of having done to Israeli settlers and/or citizens a thousand times over.

Support for Hamas is the result of a people choosing armed struggle as the only option against extermination when all peaceful political solutions, concessions, and negotiations have been arrogantly shunted by Israel. It must be unequivocally stated that Israeli occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people is the sole cause of the counter-insurgency which is being presented as a ‘conflict’: any other narrative simply shifts the blame on the oppressed and exonerates the perpetrator.

On its part, the United States has rejected all attempts at de-escalation which is the bare minimum at this point. U.S. State Department emails have told staffers not to use the phrases “de-escalation” or “ceasefire” in press communications. President Joe Biden has arrived in Israel today on October 18th a mere day after Israel’s Al-Ahli hospital attack even as Jordan has cancelled a four-way summit to be hosted by its King Abdullah which would have included Biden, calling the attack “a shame on humanity”. Biden’s visit was preceded by a senior US general’s visit to discuss military aid for Israel.

Now that popular pressure is mounting, Western leaders are being forced to make concessionary noises acknowledging the tragedy. Non-Western countries are siding with Palestine, with some exceptions like India and Japan which are eager to be allied with the West. Of the nations in the BRICS grouping, India stands out for its mildest possible response to the hospital bombing, refusal to call for a ceasefire, and its effervescent support to Israel by its official and (barely) unofficial rhetoric through its government’s captive media online and on TV, and has been noted for the rabidity of many of its citizens’ hatred and false narratives against Palestine.

Massive tragedy of humanity in Gaza

The people of Palestine, having been uprooted and herded into massive ghettos in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, face all manner of concerted attempts to crush their spirit and reduce them to abjection. The present conditions in Gaza represent the total evisceration of all notions of human rights.

1.       Basic human needs denied: Israel has completely cut off whatever little it allows of Gaza’s food, water, and electricity. Without water, Palestinians are intentionally put to risk of dying from rapidly-spreading water-borne diseases. Denial of food risks causing mass starvation. Lack of electricity means an entire people being blocked out from the world, with no first-hand accounts and documentation of events. This creates the perfect chance for Israel and its acolytes to flood the world with its disinformation, propaganda, and discourses of hatred and dehumanization against Palestinians. All while Israeli bombardment continues to target hospitals, aid workers, and critical infrastructure.  

2.     A litany of war crimes: “There is no doubt: Israel is investing in war crimes to effect its recapture and ethnic cleansing of Gaza while, at the same time, practising similar tactics in the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, writes Yanis Varoufakis as he details Israeli war crimes that qualify as a genocide with citations from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Particularly notable is the deliberate bombing of civilian groups that are attempting to escape Israeli strikes by complying with its military’s ‘evacuation orders’ which aim towards forced mass displacement, a Nakba 2.0.  

3.     In plain sight, yet out of mind?  The revolution may not be televised, but the genocide surely is.Palestinian journalists, activists, and ordinary people have posted their final goodbyes to us ‘on the outside’ and have shown us first-person views of what airstrikes and massacres on the ground look like. Israeli officials, including its prime minister himself, have no qualms or fear of consequences as they flaunt images of flattened buildings and entire neighbourhoods reduced to rubble. Many (especially Indians) have stooped to unimaginable lows by mocking the images of such gruesome tragedies, including those that involve children. While the Palestinian lands, culture, and peoples have been given over to be consumed by Israel, the suffering that it has generated as a result has merely become visual media and ‘content’ to be consumed by the rest of the world.

People of conscienceacross the world need to speak up now. The power of this act is evident in the way that governments and institutions across the world, from the U.S., to the U.K, France, Germany, and India, are attempting to clamp down on support for Palestine.

Many allege that social media channels are also being rigged against viewership and visibility of pro-Palestinian media and perspectives. The reactionary right-wing forces of the world are finding a common cause and are combining their resources, tactics, and messaging across borders. Everyone who stands for justice, shared humanity, and fair-mindedness must come together and offer a befitting response through relentless advocacy and by refusing to be robbed of our own humanity by becoming desensitized to the humanity of our fellow man.

Arjun Banerjee is a political commentator

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