Nine Months of Genocide in Gaza

This week marks nine months of Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The latest official estimates indicate that over 38,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, though according to leading medical journal the Lancet, that number may be closer to five times that amount. 

No words can describe the horrors Palestinians in Gaza have witnessed for the past 9 months. Nor can words do justice to the rage and sorrow we have felt. 

Over the past nine months the majority of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including homes, has been irreparably damaged or outright destroyed. We have seen hospitals besieged and bombarded, the planned demolition of universities, the burning of entire libraries and of immeasurable amounts of cultural wealth. Not since World War II have we seen this type of devastation. 

We have had to bear witness to the limitless violence brought forth by an apartheid regime hellbent on inflicting as much retribution as possible. And it seems we’re only just starting to get a clearer picture of the extent of Israel’s crimes. 

A report published this week in 972+ Magazine with testimonies from Israeli soldiers that have served in Gaza over the past 9 months is absolutely harrowing. “It’s permissible to shoot everyone, a young girl, an old woman”, one soldier said. Even so much as looking at the soldiers through a window makes someone a legitimate target. The soldiers tell of hundreds of people run over by tanks and bulldozers–dead or alive–of orders to shoot uncontrollably with major munitions just to demonstrate army presence in an area. Several also testified to the systematic policy of setting Palestinian homes on fire once they had finished occupying them. 

Israel’s strategy in Gaza seems to be that of “scorched earth” in a very literal sense. Leave nothing intact. Ensure that as much damage as possible is inflicted not just on Hamas but on the entire civilian population of Gaza. Israeli forces seem to make no distinction between the two in any case. 

UN experts are now confirming that famine has now spread throughout the Gaza Strip, and has so far resulted in the deaths of 34 people, mainly children. And yet Canadian pro-Israel lobby groups like the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs have the chutzpah to claim otherwise

While CIJA lies, Palestinian die. 

Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Israeli government just approved the largest land grab in 30 years, linking settlements in the Jordan Valley. It has also stepped up demolitions in Palestinian shepherding communities, including Umm al-Kheir. 

And now Israel has raided the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and ordered the hundreds of thousands of civilians remaining in Gaza City to evacuate.

Confronted with the insatiable violence unleashed by Israel against the Palestinian people, our governments have cowered in near silence. 

It is long past time for the Canadian government to impose sanctions including a full arms embargo on Israel as it has done with other countries. Sanctions against a handful of non-governmental actors–settlers and settler organizations–are a start. But they are not going to cut it. Canada must sanction Israeli government officials and institutions, beginning with Netanyahu and his gang of war criminals. And they must cut off the taxpayer-subsidized funding tap going from Canadian charities to Israeli organizations complicit in war crimes. 

Nothing will bring back all of the precious lives that have been lost. But to honour them we must continue to take action and commit to building a future that will bring about justice, equality and peace to both Jews and Palestinians. To all of us. 

That is the blessing their memories deserve.