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Israel has killed displaced Palestinians since 1948, not just since 7 October

May 28, 2024 at 2:41 pm

Palestinians observe the destruction caused by the attacks of Israeli army on tents of displaced Palestinians living near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warehouses in Rafah, Gaza on May 27, 2024 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s latest bombing of Rafah, which killed at least 45 forcibly-displaced Palestinians, has rightly prompted an international outcry. It was a hypocritical response from the international community, though, which has contributed to, or watched passively, Israel’s slaughter of well over 35,000 Palestinians since October. Why do some air strikes attract more attention than others? Why does a mass grave containing hundreds of Palestinians provoke shock, but Israel’s growing toll of those it has killed or wounded does not?

Did Rafah have to happen for the international community to suddenly realise that Israel is killing Palestinians driven from their homes, even though it has been doing so since the 1948 Nakba? The reality is that each new batch of Palestinian refugees killed by Israel is normalised, and the new takes precedence of attention for a while, at least until the fickle international community switches its focus elsewhere. Moreover, these condemnations of Israeli brutality don’t get Palestinians anywhere. Nevertheless, the hypocrisy still stands. As does the Times of Israel’s assessment that the US chiding was “notably less critical than previous dressing-downs that the Biden administration has not shied away from giving in recent months.”

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Italy’s Defence Minister Guido Crosetto described Israel’s bombing of Gaza as no longer justifiable. When were the earlier bombings of civilians ever justifiable? And why are leaders still terrified of linking Israel to its very obvious genocide? There is no monopoly over the term in international law, but the international community is bequeathing such authority to Israel, and it is Israel that decides what constitutes genocide. This happened when Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Spain of being “a partner to incitement of Jewish genocide” for recognising a Palestinian state. That’s the manipulation of reality that we have come to expect from Israeli officials, because even a symbolic State of Palestine is seen by Zionists as a threat to Israel. The minister would have us all believe that 2000lb bunker-busting bombs are not a deadly threat to forcibly-displaced Palestinian refugees, however.

“I don’t intend to end the war before every goal has been accomplished,” reiterated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while also insisting that the IDF exerted its “best efforts not to harm those uninvolved.” Those “best efforts” are clearly not good enough, given the death toll.

Complementing Netanyahu’s predictable rhetoric, the BBC’s reporting echoed Israel’s propaganda when it referenced the IDF tactics: “Their operations so far have not resulted in a bloodbath.” What exactly is the BBC, and the rest of the world for that matter, waiting for or expecting to happen? Another show of dismembered and burnt Palestinian bodies, alongside which people are reminded that Israel insists that it acts within the parameters of international law? Where are the journalists ready to ask, “How?”

Rafah’s visibility due to the current focus on the area should not lessen or obscure Israel’s history of forcibly-displacing Palestinian civilians and killing them. The apartheid state’s actions are methodically repetitive; it has constantly stretched the parameters of international law and influenced the entire world to accept its twisted narrative, so that now the international community can only rely on temporary sensationalism to voice objection, which is extremely weak when compared with decades of ethnic cleansing and the current genocide in Gaza.

Israel has the military means to carry out, on a larger scale, the kind of atrocities that it committed in the years leading up to the Nakba and its aftermath. Rafah is just part of the current genocide, and it is a sliver of what Palestinians have suffered since 1948. If the world is hesitant to call out genocide when it sees one, can world leaders at least become well versed in Palestine’s history, which is where the true loss of lives and land at the bloodied hands of the Zionist state can be found?

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