Three weeks have passed since the day my family was massacred by Israeli war planes.
Six of my relatives were killed, including my 13-year-old son Abdullah. I was injured and my house was demolished, and I have not been able to visit my son’s grave, not even once.
The intensity and insanity of the Israeli bombardment makes walking down the street a dangerous task, and one’s survival isn’t guaranteed.
Three weeks and I haven’t found an appropriate moment to cry. I am suffocating and I feel like bursting into tears, but the intensity of the tragedies and what follows deprives us of moments of solitude or moments to express our emotions.
I think a lot about how long it will take my daughter Batool, who is 8 years old, to forget the horrific memory of this crime she has personally witnessed. Batool was also injured during the bombardment and continues to speak to me at the hospital about what she saw.
“I saw a rocket as it exploded,” she says. “I saw my brother Abboud [Abdullah] as he fell to the ground calling baba, baba. I saw the fire burning my hand. I saw the house being demolished over our heads and I saw grandma lying on the floor.”
This is the early childhood experience that Israel has implanted deep into my daughter’s consciousness. It is the same for thousands of young Palestinians, who will grow up with this horror implanted in their hearts.
This is the new generation of Palestinian people. They will forever remember Israel as a genocidal and terrorist state.
What it means for Israel to exist
What is Israel accomplishing as it reshapes the consciousness of millions yet again? Even if Israel eliminates all of Hamas’ fighters, it has already planted anew the seeds of anger and a determination for revenge that will produce millions of new fighters.
Israel produces nothing more than destruction and massacres, and all its preposterous actions will backfire.
For 75 years, and for the sake of keeping the Palestinian narrative alive, Palestinians have been determined to pass on to each new generation the narrative of the Nakba and of the displacement and massacres of 1948.
But now, amid this horrific chapter of genocide in 2023, there will be no need for us to tell new generations stories from the past.
They are currently living through these stories themselves. Perhaps in an even more cruel way.
Palestinians and the world are witnessing what it means for Israel to exist.
It means there will be genocide, the displacement of entire cities, the bombing of hospitals full of patients. It means depriving an entire population of water, food and fuel. It means purposefully killing thousands of children and destroying entire neighborhoods over the heads of residents.
These are no longer just the stories you hear grandparents telling their grandkids; they are the real-time stories we are living through.
This genocide carried out by Israel is a condemnation of the entire international system – a system that has permitted this terrorist state to not only exist but to pursue ethnic cleansing – and the most heinous crimes against humanity – with access to unconditional aid and its full backing.
Ruled by a corrupt and powerless system
Israel has full immunity; it will not be held accountable.
And in spite of all these horrific crimes targeting civilians, there is still not enough international pressure to enforce a ceasefire.
The whole world can see who Israel is targeting.
They know it is a war against the Palestinian people and all aspects of our lives. They know it is not a war against a particular faction, as Israel claims.
Yet the world only watches and, occasionally, condemns.
The international system revealed its impotence at the end of October, when UN Secretary-General António Guterres held a press conference at the Rafah crossing to pathetically appeal for humanitarian aid and fuel to be allowed to enter Gaza.
The problem is the international system itself, the result of the political order that was created following World War II. It is a system that pawns the will of nations to major global powers.
Such powers then obstruct the will of other countries and use the cover of international law to oppose acts guided by human conscience.
This corrupt and powerless international system allows any country that benefits from the support of these major powers to commit atrocities under their protection.
What the United Nations should have justly been, is an organization with binding powers that could enforce compliance with international law and human rights.
Carrying on the legacy of colonialism
The long history of colonialism and enslavement do not leave my mind these days as I live through this genocide.
Israel was not created out of thin air, but rather, it continues the ugly legacy of colonialist nations, from America to Australia, that have annihilated and enslaved indigenous peoples.
Today, Israel is a loyal son of this legacy. When officials of this genocidal state describe Palestinians as “human animals,” they speak from the same mentality, with its roots in ideas of racial superiority, as those colonial powers that came before them.
European invaders also viewed colonized peoples as human animals, and this mental imagery is a prerequisite to committing a genocide.
Therefore, this confrontation taking place now, even if its domain is Gaza, is in essence a global confrontation.
All governments that favor this genocidal state are an extension of colonial regimes of racial supremacy.
In opposition, the millions of free people who demonstrate in cities in the US, UK, Europe, South Africa and East Asia embody the rejection of this doctrine.
These millions, whose demands are continuously ignored by governments, represent hope that a new world will be born amid this darkness, if we continue our active struggle.
This can be a world where genocidal regimes, racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing will fall. A new and just system can be born, where free people may express their wills and moral values and where respect for human rights is not dependent on the interests of the powerful.
Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian writer, activist and refugee from Ramle.