Merchants of death

Published April 8, 2024

IN an increasingly rights conscious world professing allegiance to humanity, the situation in Gaza stands as perhaps the worst contradiction, fuelled by Israel’s relentless military invasion. The recent call by the UN Human Rights Council to halt arms sales to Israel — although a procedural admonition for some critics — is a desperate cry for sanity in a conflict that has spiralled into what can only be called an extermination campaign.

The facts are undeniable: over 33,000 lives snuffed out, tens of thousands more maimed, and those who are left are on the brink of famine, living off fewer than 245 calories a day. The Netanyahu government’s actions highlight a flagrant disregard for international law and the principles of human decency. The employment of starvation as a method of warfare, the use of AI to target densely populated areas, and the denial of essential humanitarian aid to 2.4m Palestinians have effectively rewritten the rules of warfare.

The tragic incident involving the World Central Kitchen, where a targeted strike killed seven aid workers, six of whom were foreigners, encapsulates the impunity of Israel’s military operations. The event prompted a rare rebuke from US President Joe Biden, who has now hinted at a potential shift in US policy.

However, this should not have been the threshold for international outrage. The fact that it took the deaths of these particular individuals to move Washington is a damning indictment of selective empathy and the disproportionate weight of Western blood over that of the Palestinian people. The US, by continuing arms sales to Israel — it reportedly approved bombs the very day the strike occurred — is complicit in the bloodshed.

A continuation of this death-dealing would further sink the country’s stated commitment to justice and human rights on the global stage. Meanwhile, Israel’s temporary permission for aid delivery into Gaza, following intense US pressure, is a minuscule gesture in the face of the broader atrocities committed. Such measures are akin to placing a band-aid on a haemorrhage; they fail to address the root cause of the conflict or the systemic violence perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians.

The need for a paradigm shift in how the international community, particularly the US, approaches the Israel-Palestine conflict is long overdue. It is not enough to condemn actions post-factum or to issue slap-on-the-wrist warnings devoid of substantive action. There must be a concerted effort to halt arms sales to Israel and to hold it accountable for its violations of international law, something it has long become accustomed to.

In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres “nothing can justify the collective punishment” in Gaza. It has been six long months. The destruction, the bloodlust, the war must end, and they must end now.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2024

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