Socialist Alternative

Gaza: From An Open-Air Prison To A Kill Zone

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The intensity of destruction is both hard to fathom and yet made clear by brutal, hard facts and figures. At least 26,000 are dead, over 70% of them women and children, some eight thousand are missing and presumed dead under the rubble. 64,797 or more have been injured, and most hospitals are either totally destroyed or only partially functional. All of this is made worse by persistent power outages, fuel scarcity, and disruption of other basic utilities most of which are controlled by the Israeli government. 

The Netanyahu regime continues to justify this war on the civilians of Gaza as a campaign against Hamas. The blood on the hands of that regime is shared by Biden and US imperialism that has supported Netanyahu in his war crimes. The immediate demand of vast numbers of working people is that the war stop now and the ceasefire be permanent. Only then can we start healing from these atrocities and bring the war criminals to justice.

AP News’ Julia Frankel reports that “In just over two months, researchers say the offensive has wreaked more destruction than the razing of Syria’s Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, Ukraine’s Mariupol or, proportionally, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II. It has killed more civilians than the US-led coalition did in its three-year campaign against the Islamic State group.” Over 70% of school buildings have been damaged, despite many of them clearly serving as attempted shelters by civilians. The extent of destruction of hospitals and healthcare facilities is such that according to the Gazan Ministry of Health, over 800,000 have absolutely no access to healthcare. Only 16 out of 36 major hospitals are operating, and even then only partially. 

The vast majority of Gazan infrastructure has been turned to rubble with the new added nightmare of overflowing and damaged sewage systems which have created a chillingly perfect environment for the outbreak of diseases from air- and water-borne pathogens as well as particulates. 

Over 80% of Gazans are facing what the Red Cross calls “severe food insecurity” on top of constant extreme psychological trauma. All this data, in addition to the heart-wrenching images spread from Gaza, begins to paint a picture of the depth and breadth of the humanitarian catastrophe concentrated in just 141 square miles – the same area as the city of Philadelphia. 

Israel controls two out of the three borders and Gaza’s air space, which it is unwilling to open up. Egypt continues to refuse to accept refugees through the Rafah border. The official line of the Israeli government pressing Palestinians to flee the area is like a cruel ulcer of a joke. With nowhere to go and no way to get out, Gaza has been turned into a kill zone with cage walls. There are clearly genocidal elements to this campaign. The International Court of Justice has called on Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide, after a case brought by  South Africa, but it did not call on Israel to implement an immediate ceasefire. While this ruling certainly increased the international isolation of the Israeli regime, it also shows the limits of these capitalist institutions.

Reuters reports that “The first ten weeks of the Israel-Gaza war have been the deadliest recorded for journalists, with the most journalists killed in a single year in one location” according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). As of this writing, estimates vary from 80 to over 100 journalists killed in Gaza. The CPJ report noted it was  “particularly concerned about an apparent pattern of targeting of journalists and their families by the Israeli military.” 

Bombs and Craters 

Israeli politicians and military leaders defend their war in the press even as the right wing urges more brutality. The claims of attempting to limit civilian casualties while trying to eliminate Hamas fool no one. All that’s needed to expose this claim as a bald-faced lie is that the IDF continues to use 2,000-pound bombs in heavily populated areas. In just the first six weeks of the mass slaughter of Palestinians, the Israeli military used these 2,000-pound munitions to create at least 208 different craters of rubble, mixed with human remains and badly injured survivors. 

Structures, humans, and institutions all lie at the bottom of these craters – refugee camps, schools, residential buildings, hospitals, journalists, pharmacies, and more. According to a New York Times video investigation, “Israel routinely used one of its biggest and most destructive bombs in areas it designated safe for civilians. The video investigation focuses on the use of 2,000-pound bombs in an area of southern Gaza where Israel had ordered civilians to move for safety.” Amira Hass, an Israeli journalist for Haaretz wrote, “UN notes that 60 percent of the buildings in the Strip have been destroyed or damaged” and “85% of Gazans rendered homeless and displaced” (1.9 million people).

IDF spokespeople cry that they have little choice as all the Hamas tunnels are in densely populated areas. Even if there was incontrovertible evidence that there were full-blown armored and staffed tunnels underneath hospitals and other facilities, it still would not justify the massacre of civilians. Add in the fact that many civilians have been forced to rely on hospitals for food distribution and shelter, and you see a multiplier effect of cascading destruction of life.

Murderous Rhetoric From The Regime

Netanyahu spews blood-curdling language justifying mass murder in a cynical ploy to hang on to power. He is seen by many Israelis as responsible for allowing the October 7 attacks to happen and is likely to be voted out and put on trial for previous crimes. Those further to the right in his administration and the Knesset have openly spout genocidal rhetoric. The Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, for instance, is quoted saying, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” Another right-wing minister, Amichay Eliyahu, told a Hebrew radio station that there was no such thing as noncombatants in Gaza. 

The Israeli government continues the carnage despite the remoteness of a military path to achieving its officially stated objectives – eliminating Hamas and freeing hostages. The reality is that the occupation itself has for 75 years worked to crush secular, mass-based nonviolent civil resistance, opening the road to the likes of Hamas (which the Israeli state literally funded in the past) and Islamic Jihad. The destruction and mass murder being inflicted in Gaza today will only serve to drive up support for these organizations. If this brutal assault continues on the same course, Netanyahu’s government will have succeeded in leaving the survivors in completely untenable destitution. 

Tens of millions around the world understand that Israel’s impunity is the direct consequence of its imperial patrons, primarily in the US but also in the EU. The Biden administration’s pretense, doublespeak, and crocodile tears chiding the Israeli government to minimize civilian casualties are completely invalidated by the fact that it continues its military aid and weapons sales while running interference for this war in the world diplomatic stage. US military aid must be stopped, an unlikely development unless Biden and the US ruling class are pushed by an escalating antiwar movement.

There will be no saviors from the world diplomatic corps. Only a mass, international working-class movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people can jam the gears on the imperialist mass murder machine.

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