Palestine Update 470
The Palestinian unpeople
By Imran Jan* (The writer is a political analyst.)
The vulgarity of what-aboutism in the western media would cause the pictures of dead children to be lost into oblivion
Let me begin by plagiarising the words of Steve Jobs for his ad, which created a certain personality for Apple. Bizarrely, those words could be applied to Israel and the West too. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the rebels, the misfits, the troublemakers… the ones who see things differently (because the world doesn’t see the Palestinians’ misery but sees Israeli victimhood)… They are not fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo (the rules require that Israel does not bring any parts of their civilian population into the occupied territory and they do not like the status quo because they are loath to define their permanent borders so they can keep grabbing more Palestinian land).
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them… About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things (Yes, doesn’t matter if you disagree with them. Yes, they have changed things. They have pushed the Palestinians away from their own land and changed the demographics of those lands. They have created an open-air prison in Gaza and turned the land into an unrecognisable place).
George Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, had a term for people whose lives didn’t matter and whose deaths and disappearances could not be discussed: they were called unpeople. The Palestinians and the Kashmiris are the real-life unpeople. Scholars have written extensively about the need for recognising the rights of the Palestinian people. Musicians have created songs. Legal experts have reminded the world about the illegality of Israeli actions. Adventuring prosecutors of war crimes have been ignored or threatened, like Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court. Even Jews such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have strongly opposed Israel’s actions. The nations with enough power to right this wrong have become the black holes of wrong where morality comes to die.
The Israel-Palestine “conflict”, whichever side you stand on, is the making of the West owing to the Balfour declaration. The West gave us this never-ending conflict, including the morals with which we judge it. If the dispute is viewed from the lens of religion and its immorality judged that way, which is what people in Pakistan do, the West makes noise about the extremist mindset of the crazy Muslims. If the western-preferred standard of morality, such as human rights violations, become the fighting strategy for the Palestinian cause, the West prefers silence. At best, they call for restraint on both sides as if it’s a symmetrical situation, which makes the silence a therapeutic expression.
The vulgarity of what-aboutism in the western media would cause the pictures of dead children to be lost into oblivion. Seeing children dying is deeply upsetting but shifting that energy toward Hamas by blaming it for the misery is a bonus for the western media because the bad Hamas sending rockets from civilian population causes the moral and ethical Israeli soldiers to reluctantly unleash hellfire missiles in retaliation at those civilian areas. In the end, the dead children caused by Hamas helps the average western news consumer to continue enjoying their Cheerios while catching the morning news. Those who vow revenge against Israel are dehumanised anyway.
Truth be told, this shows a dehumanised mindset of the West. Defending an occupying army after arming them to the teeth with the most sophisticated weapons against a defenceless population with slingshots at their disposal stinks of mental rot. If the Palestinians say they have been under a brutal occupation for more than half a century and they have a right to defend themselves by using rockets, then nobody accepts that position. Yet, everyone accepts the Israeli position, which is far weaker because once again, they are the occupying army not the other way around. They don’t have a leg to stand on.
Under heavy attacks, tightened blockade, Gaza health services at Risk of Collapse
On the tenth day of Israel’s ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip. Israel continues to deliberately target civilians and their property, as well as health facilities and basic utilities. Hundreds of people have been killed, and humanitarian conditions are deteriorating.
Israeli forces intentionally destroy public roads to hamper the movement of ambulances; they attack electricity and water networks with heavy shells, causing severe damage, and they continue to close Erez and Kerem Shalom Crossings, preventing patient access to healthcare and the passage of essential medical supplies and fuel.
Al Mezan condemns Israel’s violations of international law, which clearly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Al Mezan also condemns the failure of the international community to stop the offensive. The international community must enforce Israel’s obligation to observe international law, to guarantee the protection of civilians, especially patients, injured persons and medical crews. Humanitarian relief supplies must be protected to halt worsening humanitarian conditions.
Israeli authorities banned movement to and from the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the aggression, completely closing Erez Crossing and restricting the movement of travelers and humanitarian aid. Media sources reported that, on Tuesday, Israeli authorities declined entry to a convoy of medicines and medical supplies sent by the Palestinian government to the Gaza Strip. The UN and international institutions have been trying to negotiate its entry today. The desperation of medical patients, especially oncology and cardiac patients in urgent need of treatment outside the Gaza Strip, is increasing. Many are in constant contact with Al Mezan’s legal unit, seeking assistance and intervention.
Israel’s 14-year unilaterally imposed blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip has severely impacted humanitarian conditions. Gaza hospitals have witnessed a severe deterioration of treatment options and a lack of drugs, which is especially critical now with the huge number of civilians wounded in these attacks. According to reports issued by the General Directorate of Pharmacy in the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), 45% of essential drugs, and 33% of essential disposable medical items are at ‘zero stock’ meaning less than one month’s supply is available. The deficit increases to 56% in laboratories and blood bank supplies, and Covid-19 tests have stopped entirely due to damages sustained by the Al-Rimal Clinic Center during an attack. The closure also deprives the health sector of institutional development and assistance, and prevents access to volunteers from specialized medical teams, and to essential drugs and treatment.
The information issued by the MoH confirms that Israeli forces are committing flagrant violations against health facilities. Recent attacks caused severe damages in 22 facilities in different areas of the Gaza Strip, causing injury to medical workers, destroying main roads and impeding the movement of medical crews and ambulances attending to the injured. The MoH itself has also had to cease vital services.
On Monday, 17 May 2021, Israeli forces attacked with heavy missiles a residential building in front of the MoH headquarters and Al-Rimal Clinic Center, causing huge damages in the Ministry building and injuring Dr. Majed Salha. Futhermore, the MoH had to stop conducting P.C.R. tests, and medical crews are now unable to provide Covid-19 consultations. This will lead to a public health disaster, since it hinders detection of new infections. This is especially crucial for those evacuated to UNRWA schools, where it is becoming impossible to comply with social distancing measures.
The Israeli aggression also prevents people in the Gaza Strip from accessing medical centers for Covid-19 vaccinations, and impedes the ability of the rapid response crews to conduct testing within the community.
According to the MoH, on Tuesday, 18 May 2021, the number of casualties in the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip reached 217, including 63 children, 36 women and 16 elderly people. The number of injured persons has reached 1,500, including 450 children and 295 women, 50 of whom are in critical condition. Types of wounds are various, with 370 people sustaining injuries to the upper body, and 130 with head injuries. The deficit in power supply has reached 76%, which causes huge difficulties for health facilities in the Gaza Strip. Many basic services cannot be provided. The MoH has to run generators as alternative power supplies for hospitals. This reliance on generators for hours at a time consumes huge quantities of fuel, which will run out very soon, since Israel has banned its entry to the Strip. The situation would become grave if Israel made good on its threat to completely cut all power to the Strip.
Al Mezan reiterates its concern about the collapse of health services in the Gaza Strip, the tightened blockade and the continuous targeting of medical institutions. Al Mezan strongly condemns the international community’s failure to protect patients, medical facilities and institutions, and calls for Israel to be forced to stop the aggression, to respect international law for patients and injured persons, and to ensure the entry of humanitarian and relief supplies to civilians. Al Mezan calls on the international community to take tangible and immediate steps to stop Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, to pressure Israel into ending the blockade, and respecting and fulfilling its obligations under IHL. The international community must activate accountability tools, and prosecute those suspected of committing war crimes in the oPt.
No rocket sirens since 1 a.m. as Israel-Hamas ceasefire seems close
Israel had a relatively quiet night on Wednesday without rocket sirens since about 1 a.m. until Thursday morning. The quiet came as Israel and Hamas are said to be close to a possible ceasefire that could go into effect as soon as Thursday evening or Friday night. A senior Hamas official told CNN on Wednesday night that he expects a ceasefire agreement to be reached within the next couple of days.
“I think ceasefire mediation will work,” deputy head of the Hamas political branch Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook said. “The equation was clear – if they escalate we escalate. If they stop firing at Gaza we’ll stop firing at Tel Aviv. Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah have caused the al-Aqsa Brigades to enter the campaign,” he said. “Any negotiations for a ceasefire must address that,” he added. Despite the claim, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said that Israel was determined to continue the operation for as long as it was needed to restore security to the State of Israel. “We will end the operation when we feel we have achieved our goals,” Cohen told Kan Radio. During a Wednesday phone call between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said he “expected a significant de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire.” Netanyahu told Biden that the operation will continue until Israeli citizens are secure.
PCHR: “Day 10 of Israeli Offensive on Gaza: Violent Artillery Shelling and Systematic Destruction of Houses”
Death Toll Mounts to 221, Including 62 Children and 36 Women, and Total Number of Injuries Rises to 1034, Including 310 Children and 217 Women
For the 10th consecutive day, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip and carried out dozens of intense air, land, and sea strikes, targeting houses and civilian facilities. As a result, the communications network was cut off, and the internet services were affected in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Telecommunications Company announced that one of the main lines of the fiber-optic internet service connecting the central and southern Gaza Strip’s governorates with Gaza City was targeted today in the dawn, isolating Gaza from the outside world, noting that it was a standby line for the services provided by the Palestine Cellular Communications Company “Jawwal.”
Further to PCHR’s press release published yesterday, 8 Palestinians, including a woman and a child, were killed, and 76 others were wounded, including 9 women and 11 children. The Israeli airstrikes targeted 12 houses and several facilities. Thus, the number of targeted houses has risen to 146, including multi-story buildings.
Moreover, the death toll since the beginning of the Israeli offensive has risen to 221, including 62 children and 36 women, and the number of those wounded has risen to 1,034, including 310 children and 217 women.
According to the daily update by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the total number of injuries has risen to 1550, including 400 children and 270 women. Among those injuries: 50 were critical and 340 ranged between serious and moderate.