Gaza genocide cements Israel’s status as a pariah

The site of an Israeli airstrike on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 14 May.

Omar Ashtawy APA images

The Nakba – the dispossession of Palestine during, before and after the declaration of Israel as a state in May 1948 – is an ongoing process, and the genocide underway in Gaza represents an escalation of colonial violence.

So said three prominent Palestinian human rights groups – Al-Haq, Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights – on Wednesday.

Wednesday marked Nakba Day, the annual commemoration of the ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Palestinians from their homeland, representing around 80 percent of the Palestinian population, 74 years ago.

The Arabic word “Nakba” translates to “catastrophe” – a word that describes the waves of displacement, massacres and dispossession of their land that Palestinians have contended with in 1948 and ever since.

Israeli leaders have openly threatened a new Nakba in Gaza, one that “will overshadow the Nakba of ‘48,” in the words of Israeli lawmaker Ariel Kallner, who belongs to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

As the Palestinian human rights groups observe, Israel’s eliminationist violence in Gaza today is an extension of the logic of Israel’s state ideology, Zionism. The use of force has always been required to impose its settler-colony project on the land of Palestine.

Zionism, the groups note, like all other settler-colonial projects, is premised on the elimination of the indigenous population from their land so they may be replaced with foreign settlers.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the West Bank and Gaza, has said that genocidal extermination – like that in Gaza today – represents the peak of the “dynamic, structural process” of settler-colonialism.

Israel’s widespread destruction in Gaza, including the razing of homes, schools, hospitals and water and sanitation facilities, is aimed at rendering the territory uninhabitable, thus forcing its population to leave and never return.

“Voluntary emigration”

That outcome has been championed by politicians in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

On Tuesday, thousands of Israelis marked their so-called Independence Day by marching towards Gaza’s northern crossing while calling for its settlement and the expulsion of its Palestinian population.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, euphemistically called for the encouragement of “voluntary emigration” from Gaza while stating his opposition to the transfer of humanitarian aid to the territory.

On Monday, Israelis attacked trucks carrying humanitarian supplies destined for Gaza, where famine is increasingly widespread, as they traveled through the West Bank.

Some of the drivers were beaten and around 15 trucks were damaged and their contents removed. Some of the trucks’ cargo was vandalized and destroyed.

In a separate incident this week, Israeli settlers in the West Bank beat a Palestinian truck driver because they mistakenly believed he was transporting aid to Gaza:

Meanwhile in Gaza, the Israeli military has attacked civilians seeking aid, aid convoys, humanitarian aid personnel and aid infrastructure no fewer than 80 times since January, according to the UK-based research group Forensic Architecture.
“The frequency and widespread nature of these attacks suggests that Israel is systematically targeting aid,” Forensic Architecture said.

While Ben-Gvir was censured by some in Israel’s military and political establishment for his remarks, denying Palestinians in Gaza the means to sustain life is clearly the policy.

Israel’s leaders are discouraged however from saying it out loud, as it demonstrates genocidal intent. It would be easier for Israel, under the scrutiny of both the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court at The Hague, if figures like Ben-Gvir don’t openly state their obvious aims.

Precision-guided missile

If there was any doubt that many, if not all, of Israel’s attacks on aid are deliberate, Human Rights Watch has documented eight strikes on aid workers since October 2023, “even though aid groups had provided their coordinates to the Israeli authorities to ensure their protection.”

Thirty-one aid workers were killed or injured in those attacks, along with those who were with them at the time of the strikes.

Those killed include Mousa Shawwa, the supply and logistics coordinator for Anera, an American humanitarian organization that has worked in Gaza for decades.

Shawwa was killed on 8 March when a suspected precision-guided missile hit the second-floor apartment where his family was staying in Zawaida, a town in central Gaza, after having fled their home in Gaza City.

Along with Shawwa, his brother-in-law Baha al-Gifri was immediately killed and Shawwa’s 6-year-old son Karim died from his injuries 11 days later.

Israeli leaders and spokespersons, having toned down the openly genocidal threats they spewed freely in October, like to say to a global audience that their battle is with Hamas, and not the people of Gaza.

Those claims are contradicted by the reality on the ground.

Since 7 October, more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, another 10,000 are missing and the vast majority of the population have been displaced from their homes, many of which no longer exist.

The Israeli military is currently engaged in fierce fighting with the Palestinian resistance in areas where it claimed to have dismantled Hamas forces months earlier.

There is lots of talk about Israel lacking a military and political strategy to end the war in Gaza.

Led by Netanyahu, who repeatedly vows total victory, Israel is plowing ahead with its campaign of destruction, forgoing a negotiated end to hostilities that would see the release of its captives in Gaza.


Total victory appears to mean the total destruction of life in Gaza.

But any Israeli battle “victory” in Gaza, which is far from guaranteed, will be short-lived.

Israel and the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine have already lost an even more consequential war.

Outrage over the genocide has cemented Israel’s status as a global pariah, stripping it of the veneer of legitimacy that its violent usurpation of Palestine should have never received in the first place.

In a speech made to soldiers on 10 October, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant said that “Gaza won’t return to what it was before.”

“We will eliminate everything,” Gallant added. “If it doesn’t take one day, it will take a week. It will take weeks or even months, we will reach all places.”

After the genocide in Gaza, Israel won’t return to the situation of impunity that prevailed before.

It won’t happen overnight, and it may take years, not months.

But as the aforementioned human rights groups say, Palestinians must have their full rights restored, including the right to return to all places from which they were forced in 1948 – the root cause of the ongoing Nakba – and thereafter.


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Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.