Impending slaughter

Published May 7, 2024

RAFAH, the last shelter for Gaza’s hapless people, is about to face the wrath of the Israeli war machine. There had long been talk of Tel Aviv unleashing murderous force on the southern town on the Egyptian border after the devastation of the rest of Gaza. But now, as peace talks involving Hamas, the Israelis, and Arab interlocutors appear to be deadlocked, the Zionist state is set to unleash another round of butchery in order to ‘finish’ Hamas.

According to media reports, Israel has ordered civilians in eastern Rafah to evacuate, while Tel Aviv has apparently moved several brigades close to Rafah, which is crammed with around 1.5m people. Israel and the US have disingenuously blamed the Palestinians for the breakdown in truce talks, but it is clear that Tel Aviv was never negotiating in good faith. While Hamas wanted a long-term ceasefire, Israel insisted on a temporary truce to rescue its hostages held in Gaza, and refused to rule out the Rafah offensive. Though voices from around the world — including calls from the UN secretary-general and the EU leadership — have advised Israel not to attack Rafah, no one in Tel Aviv appears to be listening.

Meanwhile, the Muslim world’s leadership has played its part by issuing a strongly worded statement following the OIC summit, held over the weekend, in Gambia. As per the Banjul Declaration, the OIC states have called upon “the countries of the world to take action to stop … the genocide committed by the Israeli occupation” in Gaza. Yet the Muslim world’s leaders have done little of substance themselves — even symbolically — to punish Israel for its monstrous crime. Regardless of the economic clout and hydrocarbon riches of many OIC members, Muslim states have not even been able to enforce a trade and energy boycott of Israel and all those that provide it with arms and funds to slaughter the Palestinians.

On the other hand, states in faraway Latin America, including Bolivia and Colombia, have snapped ties with Tel Aviv over its murderous campaign. These states, as well as South Africa, have no religious or cultural ties with Palestine, yet have expressed exemplary solidarity with Gaza, while most Muslim states have limited themselves to issuing verbose statements calling for an end to the violence.

Seven months into the slaughter, there are no signs of hope. In fact, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said the Rafah invasion would be the “final nail in the coffin” for humanitarian activities in Gaza. From the looks of it, Israel will not rest until the entire Middle East is in flames. If and when that dark omen comes to pass, the self-professed guardians of the ‘international rules-based order’ will have no one to blame but themselves and their Israeli allies.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2024

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