Dead in the blink of an eye

A crying toddler and a young girls wait for medical attention

Children wait for medical attention after an Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in Gaza’s south. 

Ahmed Tawfeq APA images

The Biden administration is supporting massacres from the sky by the Israeli apartheid regime.

It’s a serious charge rooted in fact. The US is re-arming Israel even as hundreds of Palestinian children are being killed by Israel’s airstrikes.

We are somehow supposed to accept that these strikes are more “civilized” because they’re carried out with sophisticated weapons systems.

The truth is, brown and Muslim people have always counted for less in the eyes of European and American governments. Just look at the current narrative propagated by government officials and mainstream media journalists, that attacks on Israelis are anti-Semitic – as if Palestinians would welcome subjugation by any other group.

It is an offensive charge and one bandied about because anti-Palestinian racism is rising in the west.

The ongoing and constant Israeli bombardment in Gaza has claimed the lives and bodies of thousands of innocent civilians in just the past five days.

I say “thousands,” because even though the official number of casualties is around 1,500 at time of writing, including hundreds of women and children, accounts from relatives and former neighbors indicate that hundreds may be buried beneath the rubble.

The occupying power has made it nearly impossible for rescue teams and ambulances to access areas that have been destroyed, the intense bombardment has rendered roads impassable. There is also an acute shortage of fuel for emergency vehicles.

This human toll is accompanied by an unprecedented level of destruction to civilian, commercial and residential areas to fulfill Israeli politicians’ promise to burn the besieged, occupied, and embattled Gaza Strip to the ground and either return it to the Stone Age, as Benny Gantz once bragged, or destroy it completely, as Likud MK Tally Gotliv has just called for. Now

Now Gantz is back in government, he surely aims to finish the job.

Wiped out

Dozens of families, at least 44 as I am writing this piece, have been wiped out, including the Shehab, Baroud, Abu al-Rish, Al Agha, Al Najjar, Abu Mudain, Halawa, Al-Azaizeh, Abu Al-Haiyeh and my cousin’s family, among many others.

Last night, Israel targeted my cousin Hebba Abu Shammala’s house in Khan Younis refugee camp, ending her life at age 28 along with her two young children, Musab, 3 and Minnah,1.

The Israeli military also bombed her neighbor’s home, the Abu Arish family, killing all nine members in their home: Thuraya, aged 35, and her two children, Sama in 7th grade and Khaled in 4th grade.

Their relative Huda and her children, Sijal, a university student aged 21, and Ahmad in 4th grade, who came to take shelter in Thuraya’s house, were also among the murdered. So were their cousins, three bright and beautiful girls, and their neighbor, a young man from the Barghout family, 21.

As I woke up Thursday morning, the message I received carried more terrible news. The al-Agha family lost 10 members in one second, shelled in their home in Khan Younis.

Unable to comprehend the tragedy, my friend, Arsalan al-Agha, asked me if the world I live in, the “hypocritical western world” as he put it, knows about these ongoing crimes and the murder of their children: Taleen, 2, Aseel, 1, Sama, 15, and the other seven young adults and elders from his family who were bombarded in their home.

Sadly, Arsalan knows well the answer to his question.

He knows that the atrocity against his family, together with the rest of Gaza’s many tragedies, is not the focus of attention for President Biden and his administration. Biden is pushing the most extreme Israeli propaganda to make the case for war, even as his administration has had to walk back his claim that he had confirmed atrocities laid at the door of Hamas.

Hundreds of innocent children from Gaza will be ignored, buried and replaced by the propaganda narrative perpetuated by the Zionist settler colonial state.

These current massacres and violent policies are not a new phenomenon.

They go back to the era witnessed by my grandmother in Beit Daras, during the time of the Nakba, the catastrophe that shattered, uprooted and destroyed Palestinian society in 1948, ultimately paving the way for the establishment of Israel.

It is this historical violence that rendered some 75 percent of Gaza as refugees, forcibly displaced within their land. It is this history that western media refuse to mention. We, they seem to think, are just angry people with no just cause.

What the Biden administration fails to comprehend is that Palestinians are no different from any colonized people fighting to defend their land, their right to live in dignity and freedom, and their entitlement to full humanity.

These have been systematically denied us by an apartheid state that seeks to dehumanize us, dispossess us from our land and erase us from world consciousness.

Our dead children are nothing to them, at best eliciting crocodile tears as they blame the Palestinian resistance for making them slaughter friends, neighbors and cousins from thousands of feet above the open-air prison that is Gaza.

Ghada Ageel is a third-generation Palestinian refugee. She grew up in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza and is currently visiting professor at the department of political science at the University of Alberta.