Over 10,000 souls

Published November 8, 2023

A SHAMEFUL milestone has just been crossed in Gaza: more than 10,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered as Israel conducts its bloodthirsty campaign in the besieged Strip in response to the Hamas attack of Oct 7.

Gaza’s people have been denied food, water, fuel and adequate medical care in what could be described as a 21st-century holocaust, ironically perpetrated by the offspring of those who had survived the horrors of the Third Reich. Life in Gaza and the rest of occupied Palestine had been miserable even before the Hamas assault; now it is a fight for survival for the Palestinian people.

Perhaps Tel Aviv’s intentions can be gauged by the shocking remarks of an Israeli minister, who suggested using atomic weapons in Gaza, before backtracking and saying he was speaking ‘metaphorically’. Such bloodcurdling ‘metaphors’ reveal the actual thinking of Israel’s rulers.

As the Palestinian death toll mounts, Israel — backed by the US — refuses to heed calls for a ceasefire. These calls are being led by the UN, but Tel Aviv has still to satiate its bloodlust and to murder more Palestinians in the name of countering Hamas. Meanwhile, the US champions the macabre fiction of ‘humanitarian pauses’.

We assume these pauses will allow the people of Gaza to pick up the remains of their loved ones, and prepare for the next round of deadly Israeli strikes. The Gazan massacre is indeed one of the most monstrous crimes perpetrated by a state against a civilian population, yet the world community has been unable to stop the butchery.

However, some states are making it clear to Tel Aviv that it cannot be business as usual. Bolivia, for example, has severed ties with Israel, while South Africa has recalled its diplomats. These states have shown great moral clarity in standing with the oppressed, and unmasking the oppressor.

And the Arab/Muslim world? It has displayed its usual lethargy, limited to issuing statements with strong adjectives. In comparison, many ordinary citizens of the Muslim world have decided to boycott firms seen as sympathetic to Israel. And it is truly heartening to see the solidarity marches in Western cities featuring hundreds of thousands of Muslim and non-Muslim, black, white and brown people calling for an end to genocide.

These ordinary citizens have shown more moral courage than most Muslim governments have on the matter of Palestine. However, a chance for redemption is coming on Sunday, when the OIC is due to hold a summit to discuss Palestine in Riyadh.

Though past precedent means one should not have high hopes, perhaps Muslim states’ rulers can come up with an action plan to counter Israel’s barbarism. This can include an economic boycott of Tel Aviv, as well as of all those enabling Israel’s wholesale massacre of Palestinians.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2023

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