The continuing onslaught on Gaza



As many as 159 of Sri Lanka’s 225 Members of Parliament have signed a petition expressing support for the besieged Palestinian people, demanding an immediate halt to Israel’s disproportionate response to the atrocity committed by Hamas on October 7. This document, no doubt initiated by the Muslim MPs in the House, was duly delivered to the Palestine Embassy in Colombo with attendant publicity. The chances are there would have been many more signatories on the list had its promoters had the time and the reach to canvass all MPs.

Today’s communications being what it is, most of the world has been privy to dramatic images of the horror that have been unleashed and nobody, but nobody, would want the ongoing carnage to continue for a single second longer.

The support of the United States government to Israel is a given. But the number and size of the protests in the U.S. itself to what is happening in Gaza is an index of public opinion in that country and elsewhere to the ongoing carnage. Such protests are basically fueled by instincts of humanity, inherent in all humans, with other considerations largely ignored by the large mass of the people.

In fact, there was a release, on November 13, by TikTok, of Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to the American People” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which was originally translated and published by the Guardian in 2002. This letter, an attempt by bin Laden to justify the killing of nearly 3,000 Americans, went viral after it was posted by TikTok in the US, generating ammunition for many American antisemitic groups protesting the continuing carnage in Gaza.

The text of bin Laden’s letter was immediately withdrawn by the media on the grounds that it would provoke more antisemitic protests. Some TikTok users thought that “despite it being full of antisemitic garbage and Islamic-fundamental nuttery, bin Laden’s letter made some good points critiquing American foreign policy”.

American support for the Israelis after the October 7 attacks was overwhelming. President Biden visited Tel Aviv immediately after the attacks, and was warmly greeted by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Biden’s initial statement indicated complete support for Israel after they had suffered this brutal attack by Hamas.

“As long as the United States stand – and we will stand forever – we will never let you be alone”. He went on to say, “You are a Jewish state, but you are also a democracy. And like the United States, you don’t live by the rules of terrorists. You live by the rule of law. What sets us apart from the terrorists is we believe in the fundamental dignity of every human life – Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Jew, Muslim, Christian – everyone”.

A typically sanctimonious statement which has not been true in the past, and is certainly not true today.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) offensive since October 8, with support of the American government, has murdered Palestinian civilians in Gaza, men, women and children, 11,200 and counting, over the past five weeks. They had completely stopped humanitarian assistance to Gaza – water, food, medications, fuel – until last week, when they relented under UN and international pressure. They now allow a barely sufficient number of trucks carrying such aid to Gaza every day.

They have almost complete control of Gaza City, and refuse the ceasefire demanded by the international community. Instead, they have agreed to “Humanitarian Pauses”, a couple of hours respite daily, to enable Palestinian civilians escape to South Gaza with their families and what they can carry in their hands. Where they will be only marginally safer, as the IDF has regular airstrikes in South Gaza also.

And last week, the Israelis committed the ultimate war crime, attacking the Al Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza City, endangering the lives of doctors, nurses and patients including infants, some in incubators. The IDF stated that they had uncovered, late last Thursday, a tunnel shaft beneath the hospital with weapons, but no independent verification has been made available to date.

A recent nationwide poll released Thursday showed that American sympathy, especially among younger voters, has been sinking during October, with over 50% saying their sympathies were more with the Palestinians.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, a close American ally, acknowledged a pretty reasonable but cynical opinion held by moderate Europeans and Americans: “The message is loud and clear. Palestinian lives matter less that Israeli ones. Our lives matter less than theirs. The application of international law is optional. And human rights have boundaries – they stop at borders, they stop at races, and they stop at religions”.

President Biden had warned Prime Minister Netanyahu, during his visit to Israel soon after October 7, not to make the mistake of getting “consumed by rage” as the Americans did after 9/11. A warning largely ignored by Bibi (as Netanyahu is known), the consummate Israeli hawk, whose one ambition is a one-state solution to the Palestinian problem. The Jewish State of Israel.

International indignation against the continuing carnage by the Israelis is reaching fever-pitch. The feeling is that despite Israeli claims that they target only Hamas terrorists, they are engaging in an all-out assault on the total population of Gaza. As an indication of the intense gravity of this assault, during just the first week after October 7, Israel dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza in one week, nearly as many as the Americans dropped in Afghanistan in a full year.

The reality in Gaza mirrors all the components of genocide according to the statutes of the Geneva Convention. A federal complaint in the US has called for an end to the billions of military support given annually to the Israelis. President Biden has been sued, by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), based in New York, on behalf of Palestine human rights organizations, for “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide”.

Too little, too late. Netanyahu’s ambitions for a one-state solution, with the “elimination” of the Palestinian people, is almost a done deal.