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Genocide with a human face?

Genocide with a human face?

dinsdag 28 november 2023 11:12
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Settlement colonialism always and everywhere leads to ethnic cleansing, apartheid or genocide, and often a mixture of the three, I wrote about the Gaza war in the early days of Israel’s bombing campaign. Israel already had two of the three crimes against humanity inextricably linked to settlement colonialism on its record – ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Now it is beginning to look more and more like Israel is also going full steam ahead with the third crime, that of genocide.

The State of Israel is based on the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and it is still being continued through the further “repopulation” of the West Bank, through the expansion of the colonies and the strangulation of the Palestinian enclaves. Because that is all that remains of that Palestinian territory: a few islands in a sea of colonies and a huge military zone (called Area C). It is precisely because of that policy of spatial partitioning that Israel has become an apartheid system, or better: that spatial matrix of control is the visible, tangible side of the Israeli apartheid regime. The reports of B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International textually confirm that apartheid.

Two months after the beginning of the massive bombing of Gaza, it is becoming clear that Israel is now also going all out with the genocidal logic of mass murdering a population group, and is thus guilty of the third crime against humanity. Specialists have warned of this from the beginning of Israel’s counteroffensive. In addition, it also unscrupulously opts for the war crime of collective punishment, by cutting off food, water, electricity and denying humanitarian aid, or allowing it only in totally inadequate amounts.

Even the “humanitarian pause” (from Nov. 24 to 30) did not fundamentally change this. The pause was inadequate, according to Doctors Without Borders and the UN. Humanitarian aid is either permanent or it is not. There are 20,000 wounded and a lack of just about everything. It is turning into a humanitarian catastrophe, according to the UN, which becomes more hellish and brings more horror every day. Furthermore, Israel is also openly displacing populations in Gaza and thus committing ethnic cleansing, according to UN specialists. The Israeli Interior Minister even openly called for this. In addition, it is very likely that Israel will take the opportunity to seize land under the guise of a necessary but temporary occupation, which will then last forever. There are also strong indications that the gas fields off the Gaza coast play a role in this ruthless stratego.

The revenge for Hamas’s relentless raid – let that be clear in itself a war crime – and the will to behead Hamas is becoming an alibi for an accumulation of war crimes and perhaps crimes against humanity: a kind of final solution to the Gaza problem. That it recently came to light that the intelligence services had known for months that something was afoot fuels fears that it was allowed to happen. To be able lash out mercilessly.

Because with all the other crimes comes the systematic Israeli disproportionality, also a war crime. Now there have already been more than 10 times as many casualties on the Palestinian side. Against 1,400 Israeli dead, there were already about 14,000 Palestinian dead by the end of November, and it won’t stop there. For after the humanitarian pause for the hostage exchange, the relentless bombing of Gaza, the world’s most densely populated area, has again continued unabated, and ground operations are also expanding ever more, by now invading the South as well.  Gaza is becoming, as the unsurpassed UN Secretary-General Gutteres said, a children’s cemetery. Isn’t killing 6,000 children terror? Just collateral dammage? Who can still believe that, who can still accept that, who can sell that to their conscience? I would ask David Grossman and Yuval Harari, who in an opinion piece accused the Western intelligentsia of lacking empathy after the Hamas attack. The piece was written while the carpet bombing – also a war crime, of course – was already in full swing.

Luc Walleyn, a lawyer at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said in an interview that he does not want to speak of a genocide for the time being, because that is where the intention matters most, rather than the number. Sebrenica was “only” 8,000 dead, but there was an intention to decimate a population group as such. However, he left no doubt that Israel is committing serious war crimes and that because the Palestinian Territories are under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court, they can be prosecuted. Then again, another lawyer at the International Criminal Court left no doubt in an opinion piece that it does constitute genocide. Another human rights expert also came to that conclusion in a moving piece.

Israel, however, with its leaflets telling the population to get out of harm’s way, is doing everything it can to keep up appearances that it wants to spare the civilian population as much as possible. But the painfully rapidly rising absolute numbers, the bombing of supposedly safe zones, and the attacks on UN schools and institutions, hospitals and ambulances, contradict that. The bills are legal sand in the eye to continue to claim that Israel is not committing war crimes but, on the contrary, is doing everything possible to avoid them. Israeli researcher Eyal Weizman, the inventor of Forensic Architecture, calls this “Humanitarian Warfare”.  How cynical can it get? Perhaps we should invent a new term, a new category, to name the cynicism of this all-out war on Gaza: ‘genocide with a human face.’

The “humanitarian pause” and the “interactive map” of supposedly “safe zones” is part of this new version of the worst crime against humanity. According to the UN, the humanitarian pause was insufficient and those zones are not safe at all. Meanwhile, research by an Israeli news media shows that in this “deadliest war against the Palestinians, hundreds of targets are constantly being generated via AI, without regard to civilian casualties. Whether it will ever be officially called a genocide or not – this is simply a hideous massacre on the largest ghetto ever.

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