In stark contrast to the appalling response of western leaders, throughout the world tens of thousands have taken to the streets protesting Israels barbaric actions in Gaza. In the US, Canada, Europe, and UK, in Asia and the Middle East with one voice people have cried out, condemning Israel and the US, calling for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the siege of Gaza and full scale humanitarian support for Palestinians.
Israel ignores all such demands, and continues its relentless attack on Palestinian civilians. Violating International Humanitarian Law (including carrying out a process of Collective Punishment) as it does so. Amnesty International has “documented unlawful Israeli attacks, including indiscriminate attacks, which caused mass civilian casualties and must be investigated as war crimes”.
The UN Secretary General says he is “deeply concerned by the clear violations of humanitarian law that we are witnessing.” A coalition of Palestinian human rights groups have now filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court (ICC), “Urging the body to investigate Israel for “apartheid” as well as “genocide” and issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders.” And yet western ‘leaders’ say little of consequence and do nothing to stop the slaughter.
According to the UN more than 40% of Palestinians killed in Gaza are children, and 70% killed are women and children. As Guterres has said, “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children.” Just under 4,000 children are reported dead (over 420 children are being killed or injured each day), and a further 1,250 are missing — presumed buried under destroyed or damaged buildings. This is systematic genocide, long in the planning, carried out by a fanatic right wing Israeli government that is deliberately targeting children and women.
The ferocious IDF assault is destroying homes, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches, schools, UN facilities — the attacks are indiscriminate. Pregnant women and babies are particularly at risk; as hospitals close and/or are bombed. “Some women are having to give birth in shelters, in their homes, in the streets amid rubble,” the UN said. The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, said “the true cost of this latest escalation will be measured in children’s lives — those lost to the violence and those forever changed by it”.
Journalists are also being killed; according to the UN more journalist have been killed in a month than in any conflict in the last thirty years.
The carnage in Gaza and the siege of the territory is horrific and the response from western governments — these ‘champions of democracy and peace’, utterly appalling. With the US leading the pack, they are facilitating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel, and then publicly justifying it.
The UK and EU appear incapable to expressing a view that contradicts US policy. Even the leader of the UK Labour party Kier Starmer, potentially the UK’s next Prime-Minister, is towing the US line, virtually word for word. It’s pathetic. His callous response is a depressing sign of the kind of PM he would be; weak, unprincipled, cowardly. As the Labour leader of Burnley council said when he resigned in protest, “Instead of talking of peace — all of our world leaders, including the leader of the Labour Party, are talking about humanitarian pauses. It’s just nonsensical.”
Obviously there should be an immediate unconditional ceasefire. A growing number of nations, particularly those within the region, together with outraged citizens throughout the world, including Israeli’s and Jews, are calling for this common-sense step. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, has warned that, unless a path to peace is found quickly, the war risked pushing the region into an “abyss of hatred and dehumanisation”.
But as the causalities increase and the suffering intensifies the message of the US and Co., to Israel is carry on killing, but maybe consider allowing a ‘humanitarian pause’ to let aid into Gaza, and by the way, please ‘do more to protect civilians’. Even this half hearted proposal has been rejected by Israel, with Prime-Minister Netanyahu saying the IDF would continue bombing Gaza with “all of its power.” Hate knows no limits.
It is a shameful display of inaction and facilitation, one that makes the US and anyone who supports its shameful approach complicit in the genocide that is taking place.
The US has the greatest responsibility here, because if Israel will listen to anyone it is potentially the US. Washington’s unconditional support has, for decades, allowed Israel to ignore international law (which Israel appears to believe does not apply to them), suppress the Palestinians, and is now allowing the massacre to take place in Gaza.
Listen to the UN
This devastating crisis has revealed once again that the world is bereft of true leaders; men and women of courage and principles, who can act with wisdom and compassion, free from short-term national interest. In the midst of this sea of mediocrity stands the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. A clear and consistent voice of reason on all topics.
He has repeatedly called for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for unimpeded humanitarian access to be granted…safely and to scale, in order to meet the urgent needs created by the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.” His words, rational and right, have, however, been constantly ignored. More than that, he, himself, has come under attack from the Israeli authorities.
It is the UN, which was founded to establish peace and security in the world, led by Guterres that should be tasked with bringing the relevant parties together to discuss, not just a ceasefire, but the long term issues; the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians and the resulting insecurity felt by Israeli’s. That means the Israeli government sitting down with Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. There is no other solution.
The crisis in Gaza, as Guterres correctly points out, “Is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a Crisis of Humanity.” The mass slaughter that is taking place is a symptom, a loud and bloody symptom of this broader crisis. The “Crisis of Humanity” is ultimately a crisis of values, and as such could correctly be called a spiritual crisis. If humanity wants to live in peace, and the vast majority desperately want this, then certain fundamental changes in approach are needed.
Firstly, the recognition that humanity is one, and the cultivation of unity. Identifying and cutting out all systems and ways of thinking that strengthen division — this is essential; in particular tribal nationalism. And creating socio-economic systems that promote social justice. Sharing is key to building trust — sharing land and natural resources, sharing knowledge, wealth and skills.
Without sharing and social justice (both of which are totally absent in Palestine) peace will remain a fantasy, and tragedies like the one taking place before our eyes in Gaza will continue.