This is a moment of global danger and deep horror. Horror is, or ought to be, the ordinary human response to Israel’s attempt to use the October 7 Hamas assault – attacking military targets, which constitutes legitimate resistance to occupation under international law, but also civilians, which is an odious crime – as a pretext for ethnic cleansing by inflicting genocidal atrocities on the Palestinians in Gaza and beyond.
This brutal bombing, shelling (which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly shared in videos on social media) and the use of a blockade as a weapon against over two million civilians (imprisoned in what is, in the words of Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling, “the world’s largest concentration camp ever”), reveal the real nature of Israel’s campaign.
Rather than a war against Hamas, Israel’s government is engaged in another, escalating stage of the Nakba, the long-standing settler-colonial project to create a state free of the indigenous inhabitants of the land, the Palestinians. Citing the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Raz Segal, a widely recognized Israeli expert on the Holocaust, finds that the current assault on Gaza even amounts to a “textbook case” of this crime.
What makes this even more horrifying is the fact that the US, the single most militarily powerful and aggressive country in the world, is abetting this crime. The EU, with Germany in the lead, is trying to outdo Washington in its complicity; the International Criminal Court is practicing criminal negligence, and the UN distracts the world by offering the equivalent of Band-Aids to victims of mass murder. Initially at least, the Western media mostly failed, again, in their principal duties, namely, to inform without bias and to critically scrutinize the actions of their own governments. Instead, they spread Israeli disinformation designed to dehumanize the Palestinians, making them appear as “human animals,” in the words of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who have no rights and deserve no pity. This type of rhetoric is, of course, a classical element of genocide, as Raz Segal has also pointed out.