Instead of waking up to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Thursday, Gaza Strip residents woke to unyielding Israeli aerial strikes.
In less than a week in Gaza, 69 Palestinians — amongst them, 17 children — died, with over 390 wounded.
Safwat al-Kahlout, an Al Jazeera reporter, said that Gazan streets were deserted apart from ambulances which are “all carrying casualties” and Israeli forces “warning many families to evacuate and leave their homes, which they will destroy later.” Al-Kahlout said that over 20 homes have been demolished with at least that many families left homeless.
Echoes from a 2017 Human Rights Watch report describe several categories of Israeli occupation violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Amongst them are: “unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.”
An April 2021 Human Rights Watch report describes Israeli government actions towards Palestinians due to their identity as amounting “to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Yet, those statements went unheeded by the international community until this week, meaning already horrifying conditions have only been exacerbated in the recent catastrophe.
The director of Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Abu Silmiya, said the healthcare system in Gaza is collapsing. He stated: “Our operating rooms have been suffering from a lack of supplies over the past 15 years – medicines are in short supply in the entire Gaza strip. This hospital has been running on the same devices and appliances for the past 20 years.” Need for those supplies only increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
While Israeli policies have classically favored Jewish Israelis and Israeli-Palestinian towns do not typically coexist peacefully, the current violence and agitation in mixed cities is “unprecedented” according to Mairav Zonszein, senior analyst from the International Crisis Group.
Indeed, recent months have seen Palestinian sit-ins in east Jerusalem, protesting Israeli-ordered evictions. Zonszein says that the discrimination in east Jerusalem “happens inside Israel as well – in terms of housing policy discrimination, in rights, in all aspects of life, crime and negligence of the Israeli government,” but the government has neglected demands for change.
Israel has given no hint of lightening military presence or halting its violent actions. In fact, Al Jazeera reporter Harry Fawcett says Israel has been sending large quantities of military equipment to Gaza’s border.
Hanan Ashrawi, a former leading member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) summed the controversy up by saying: “You have here an unbridled use of violence by the strongest army in the region targeting innocent civilians, targeting residential buildings in an area that has been totally closed in, besieged without any means of defence, with no air force, no shelters, with no sirens and at the same time the Israelis claim self-defence.”
How to help?
Donate to the Palestinian Red Crescent or Palestine Children's Relief Fund directly.
Organize a book group to educate those around you.
Learn more about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
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Write to your elected official.Join a solidarity protest near you!