A Million Palestinians Face Death by Starvation After Eight Months of Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Palestinians seeking food in Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip in December 2023. Israel’s “complete siege” on Gaza has meant widespread shortages of food throughout the last eight months, but repeated blocking of humanitarian aid deliveries by Israel has meant that it is now estimated that a million Palestinians face death by starvation by mid-July. (Photo: Majdi Fathi).

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Eight months of unmitigated horror in Gaza demonstrates the absolute moral degradation of Israel, and the unparalleled moral failure of the west.

It’s eight months since Hamas and other militants broke out of the “open-air prison” of the Gaza Strip, where they, and the entire Palestinian population of 2.3 million people, had been subjected to a land, sea and air blockade for 16 years, and embarked on a brief but deadly killing spree in southern Israel, killing 1,068 Israelis (695 civilians and 373 members of the military and the police), as well as 71 foreign nationals, and kidnapping around 235 others, around half of whom were Israeli.

In response, as happened on numerous previous occasions when Israel was attacked by Palestinian military forces resisting the occupation of their land, Israel began carpet bombing the Gaza Strip, destroying key infrastructure, levelling apartment blocks with disproportionately heavy-duty bombs provided mainly by the US and Germany, and killing vast numbers of civilians.

In 2014, when Israel undertook the most savage of its many previous attacks on the Gaza Strip, a seven-week campaign killed over 2,300 Palestinians, wounded nearly 11,000 (including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were permanently disabled), and led to the destruction of 7,000 homes, with an additional 89,000 damaged, before a ceasefire was finally reached.

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Radio: I Discuss Israel’s Horrendous Prisons for Palestinians and the ICC Noose Tightening Around Netanyahu’s Neck on Gorilla Radio

A leaked photograph from inside Israel’s Sde Teiman prison, obtained by CNN, shows a blindfolded prisoner with his arms above his head in a crowded, open-air cell in which other prisoners are also blindfolded, as part of a regimen of unacceptable punishment in which, held without charge or trial and with the permanent threat of severe violence, they are permanently blindfolded and prevented from talking to one another.

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My thanks to the indefatigable Chris Cook, based in western Canada, for having me on his Gorilla Radio show to discuss Ending Israel’s Impunity for Genocide in Gaza, and the Threat to Those, Like Joe Biden, Who Are Most Complicit, my latest article on the defining horror of our times. Our discussion takes place in the second half of the one-hour show, available on Substack here, after an illuminating first half with Yves Engler, the Montreal-based political activist, whose latest book, co-authored with Owen Schalk, is ‘Canada’s Long Fight Against Democracy.’ I’m also pleased to note that Chris played my song ‘Forever Prisoner’, about Guantánamo prisoner Khaled Qassim, recorded with my band The Four Fathers.

Chris and I began by discussing Jonathan Cook’s latest article for Middle East Eye, The message of Israel’s torture chambers is directed at all of us, not just Palestinians, which drew on a detailed CNN investigation published on May 11, Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in shadowy detention center, about Sde Teiman, a secret Israeli prison on a military base in the Negev Desert, where Palestinians seized in the Gaza Strip since October 7 are kept naked, blindfolded and handcuffed, and, permanently, “forced to remain motionless and silent”, as Cook describes it, adding, “At night, dogs are set on them. Anyone who speaks or moves risks being savagely beaten till bones are broken.”

The whistleblowers who spoke to CNN also explained that “doctors sometimes amputated prisoners’ limbs due to injuries sustained from constant handcuffing; of medical procedures sometimes performed by underqualified medics earning it a reputation for being “a paradise for interns”; and where the air is filled with the smell of neglected wounds left to rot.”

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Ending Israel’s Impunity for Genocide in Gaza, and the Threat to Those, Like Joe Biden, Who Are Most Complicit

Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), flanked by Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, behind bars. Image via the Islam Channel, produced after Khan announced his intention to seek arrests for both men for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip.

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I just want the bombing to stop. Billions of us around the world just want to the bombing to stop. But last night, in Rafah, Israel dropped countless US-supplied 2,000-pound bombs — hideously powerful weapons designed to pierce otherwise impenetrable military targets — on a displaced Palestinian civilian population, living in flimsy makeshift tents in what they were told was a “safe zone,” burning dozens of them alive, including children who were decapitated as their bodies burned.

For seven and a half months, a moral sickness has engulfed the State of Israel, also infecting parliaments and the mainstream media throughout most of the western world, as shrill, bullying and sometime gleeful proponents of genocide have sought to compel us, sometimes through violence, and often through intimidation, not only to turn a blind eye to the murder of 40,000 civilians in the Gaza Strip — killed with bombs of such intensity that they shouldn’t even exist, let alone be dropped onto packed civilian neighbourhoods day after day after day — but to endorse it, to support it as enthusiastically as they do.

For seven and a half months, those of us living in the majority of the countries of the west (or the Global North), have been ordered to believe that, despite the openly genocidal comments that have been regularly and insistently made by Israel’s leaders since the deadly attacks on southern Israel by Hamas and other militants on October 7 last year, (in which 1,139 people were killed), Israel’s response, in which most of the Gaza Strip has been destroyed, and 10,000 decomposing corpses are buried under the rubble, is not a genocide, but simply Israel exercising its “right to defend itself”, to “eliminate Hamas”, and to free the hostages seized by Hamas and other militants on October 7.

For seven and half months, we have been told that “this began on October 7”, in a blatant and frankly sickening effort to erase 76 years of oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel, oppression which began in earnest with the blood-soaked establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948, when 15,000 Palestinians were murdered and 750,000 permanently exiled from their homes, but which actually began decades before, via the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British government, then ruling Palestine as a Mandate after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, announced its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, and encouraged the migration of hundreds of thousands of European Jews.

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The Best of Humanity Weeps for Gaza, While the Worst Cheers On Genocide, Malevolent and Psychopathic: Whose Side Are You On?

Palestinian flags on the most recent March for Palestine in central London on March 9, 2024 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Last week, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, the Geneva-based NGO, published its latest assessment of the death toll in Gaza, after 160 days of Israel’s relentless genocidal assault on the largely civilian population of the Gaza Strip, refugees from the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the blood-soaked establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, who, for the last 17 years, have been trapped in what Human Rights Watch described in 2022 as an “open-air prison”, because of Israel’s total blockade of all routes in and out, but which it would now be more accurate to describe as the world’s largest open-air graveyard, or the world’s largest concentration camp.

Shamefully, no mainstream media outlet took an interest in Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s assessment, even though it reported, credibly, that the death toll from Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza has now surpassed 40,000 (40,042, according to the report), with 14,861 of those killed being children, and 9,273 being women, and with 36,330 of those killed (90%) assessed as having been civilians.

Over 160 days, this means that, on average, 250 Palestinians have been killed every day — or ten every hour — with nearly a hundred of those killed every day being children.

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The Horror of Israel’s Bragging, Self-Righteous, Live-Streamed Genocide in Gaza That Also Seeks to Eliminate Fundamental Human Decency

A striking photo taken by Alisdare Hickson at a protest in London on October 21, 2023, via Flickr.

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It’s over two weeks since I’ve written about Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, but it’s not because I’ve “moved on”, or forgotten about it. On the contrary, it still consumes my every waking hour, an aching anguish that only ever goes away when I somehow manage to distract myself through immersion in some other activity: my long-running work on Guantánamo, for example, or working on my music, or managing to snatch some precious time with my family on a recent weekend break in Dorset.

Mostly, though, the horror engulfs me permanently — the unending horror of one group of people, the State of Israel, whose leaders, media and citizens in vast numbers are committed, with a delirious, maniacal and alarmingly self-righteous enthusiasm, to the annihilation of another, the Palestinians, trapped in the Gaza Strip, a small sliver of land where their ancestors were ethnically cleansed when the State of Israel was created 76 years ago.

Everywhere I look, I see other people struggling to maintain their mental equilibrium in the face of the relentless slaughter that, over the last four months, has claimed 36,671 lives, including 14,031 children and 8,122 women — with the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which compiled the figures, estimating that 33,590 of those killed (91.6%) were civilians, and also pointing out that an additional 70,180 people have been wounded, many of them severely. Over a thousand children have lost one or both legs, with many amputations having to be conducted without aesthetic, because of Israel’s refusal to allow medical supplies into Gaza, and over 17,000 have been orphaned, known by a new designation of Israel’s making: ‘WCNSF’, which stands for “wounded child, no surviving family.”

The death toll in Gaza, after 130 days of Israel’s relentless genocidal attacks, as compiled by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

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After ICJ Genocide Ruling, Israel Shows Contempt for the UN, and Its Western Allies Deepen Their Complicity in the Genocide

A screenshot of an Al Jazeera report about Israel’s ‘war’ on UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), cynically declared after last week’s devastating ruling by the International Court of Justice in relation to well-founded allegations that Israel is engaged in a genocide in Gaza.

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In a devastating ruling issued last Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the principal judicial organ” of the United Nations, accepted a case brought by South Africa against the State of Israel “concerning alleged violations in the Gaza Strip of [its] obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”, and imposed conditional measures on Israel to prevent what the Court judged to be the grave likelihood of a developing genocide.

As I explained in an article I published shortly after the ruling, “By a majority of 15-2, and in some cases 16-1, the Court found that South Africa had established a compelling case that Israel’s actions, in response to the attacks by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7, were so severe that it is plausible that they constitute genocidal intent under Article II of the Genocide Convention; namely, ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’, via ‘killing members of the group’, ‘causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group’, ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part’, and ‘imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.’”

The Court ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of [the] Convention”, and to “ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts”, to “take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”, and to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

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International Court of Justice: Israel Must Cease All Activities That May Constitute Genocide, Punish Genocidal Officials and Allow Humanitarian Aid into Gaza

Palestinian flags outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday, January 26, 2024, as the Court’s President, Joan Donoghue, read out the court’s ruling regarding provisional measures relating to South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide. (Photo: Patrick Post/AP).

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Make no mistake about it. Today’s ruling, by the International Court of Justice, imposing provisional measures on Israel under the 1948 Genocide Convention, in response to a submission submitted by South Africa, and argued before the Court on December 29, is hugely significant.

By a majority of 15-2, and in some cases 16-1, the Court found that South Africa had established a compelling case that Israel’s actions, in response to the attacks by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7, were so severe that it is plausible that they constitute genocidal intent under Article II of the Genocide Convention; namely, “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, via “killing members of the group”, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”, “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

The Court duly ordered that “Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of [the] Convention”, and “must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts.”

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Why We Must All Rise Up Against the Genocidal White Supremacists of Zionist Israel and the West

‘Stop the Genocide’: a placard at the second huge March for Palestine in London on October 21, 2024 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Since Israel launched its genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza over three months ago, astute commentators in the west have noted that the masks of feigned decency have fallen from the faces of our leaders, revealing them to be, fundamentally, the same genocidal, racist supporters of colonial settler violence that their predecessors were in those long centuries when they pillaged the world, killing and enslaving native populations, and, when met with resistance, often engaging in genocide.

The speed with which the masks fell has, genuinely, been shocking to watch, even though historically, of course, the countries of the west have indulged Israel, as the last great European settler colonial project, since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Britain’s foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, pledged to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine (which British was administering as a Mandate after the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire), and the blood-soaked creation of the State of Israel in 1948, when around 15,000 Palestinians were killed, and around 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homes in what is known to Palestinians as the Nakba (“catastrophe”).

According to British records, 376,415 Jewish immigrants, mostly from Europe, arrived in Palestine between 1920 and 1946, and, even though most of these Jews had avoided the Holocaust, and even though the armed groups who fought to establish the Israeli state did so through terrorism, not only against the Palestinians, but also against the British, the post-war western consensus on Israel was that it must be indulged, to assuage the guilt the European powers felt over the Holocaust as well as their well-chronicled oppression of Jewish people over many centuries.

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Ten Weeks of Genocide in Gaza: 25,000 Palestinians Killed, A Land in Ruins, And Still No Sign of a Ceasefire

Civilians rounded up in northern Gaza, stripped and carried away in vehicles to an undisclosed location, December 7, 2023.

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In my nearly 61 years on this earth, I’ve never felt as sick as I do now, watching in real time, as I have for the last ten weeks, a genocide taking place in the Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million Palestinians, trapped in an “open-air prison”, as they have been since 2007, with no means of escape, are being killed at a scale that is unprecedented in the history of warfare in my lifetime, while western leaders offer largely unconditional support — and weapons — and Israel continues to portray itself as the victim.

As of December 14, the death toll had reached 24,711, according to the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which takes its figures from the health ministry in Gaza, and adds those missing and presumed dead under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

Of the dead — killed for the most part as a result of Israel’s relentless bombing of residential areas — 9,643 were children and babies, 5,109 were women, and 93%, according to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, were civilians.

The death toll is so colossal, and so relentless, that, on average, 365 people have been killed every day, including 140 children and babies; that’s six children every hour, or one every ten minutes over a period of more than two months; in other words, in response to the deadly attacks by Hamas militants on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed (and even disregarding the as yet unknown numbers killed by the Israelis themselves), Israel has been killing a comparative number of Palestinians twice a week for the last ten weeks.

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Genocide Continues in Gaza, Exposing The Unending Depravity of Israel, and the Ongoing Criminal Complicity of the West

The aftermath of an Israeli bombing raid in Tall az-Zaatar, in northern Gaza, on Sunday December 3, 2023 (Photo: Fadi Alwhidi/Anadolu).

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For 47 days, from October 8 until November 23, the State of Israel relentlessly bombed the 2.3 million trapped civilians of the Gaza Strip — held in “an open air prison” since 2007, when Israel imposed a total blockade on its inhabitants — with such ferocity that 20,031 people were killed, including 8,176 children and 4,112 women, according to the Geneva-based NGO Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. The NGO also noted that over 36,350 people had been injured — many gravely so — and that 1.7 million people, almost three-quarters of the entire population, had been displaced, as nearly a quarter of a million homes were completely or partially destroyed.

To give some necessary perspective to those statistics, what it meant was that, for 47 days, Israel was killing 174 children every day — seven children every hour, or one every eight and a half minutes. To understand quite how grotesque and unprecedented the killing of children on this scale is, on November 7 Al Jazeera analyzed the death rates of children in other major conflicts of the 21st century — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen — establishing that the death rate of children in those conflicts was between 0.6 and three children per day.

This was carpet bombing on an industrial scale, using some of the heaviest and deadliest bombs ever invented by the depraved individuals who work in the arms industry, many of which were supplied by the US, and yet, despite international experts almost immediately recognizing that this was the collective punishment of an entire civilian population, in response to attacks by Hamas militants on October 7, in which, according to initial reports, 1,400 Israelis had been killed (a figure most recently revised down to 1,200), western leaders were united in their uncritical support for Israel’s unqualified “right to defend itself.”

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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