On Monday, the death toll of the Israeli assault on Gaza surpassed 10,000, with over 4,000 of those deaths being children. After weeks of bombings that have destroyed entire neighborhoods, the Israeli army has launched a land invasion that seeks to split the Gaza Strip in much the same way the Israeli military has already divided up the West Bank into isolated districts that operate like the segregated Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa. Furthermore, a leaked Israeli Intelligence Ministry document suggests this division is the first step towards a proposed “relocation and final settlement of the entire Gaza strip” to the Sinai desert, heightening fears of an ethnic cleansing among Palestinians. This plan, called “Alternative C,” was seen by the ministry as the best option for “Israel’s long-term security.” With many hospitals struggling to operate due to the Israeli blockade and the disturbing trend of Israeli attacks on bakeries and ambulances,
the thousands still living in the northern section of the strip will suffer even more desperate conditions if the Israeli invasion succeeds in cutting off access to the Egyptian border.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of responses from mainstream media and American politicians have refused to condemn the Israeli government for its killing of civilians, and few are discussing the conflict’s history before October 7 or the fact that organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have declared that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians constitutes apartheid. Many are uncritically accepting the rhetoric of the Israeli government, which states that a ceasefire would prevent them from recovering Israeli civilian hostages, even though Hamas officials have said civilian hostages would be returned immediately in exchange for an end to the bombing of Gaza.
Netanyahu’s insistence that the Israeli military avoids civilian casualties falls flat in the face of stories like that of Al-Jazeera journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh. His wife and children, in compliance with the Israeli evacuation order, left north Gaza for the Nuseirat refugee camp in the south. On October 25, an Israeli bomb struck the camp, killing Al-Dahdouh’s immediate family as well as his grandson, who was only a year and a half old. Nevertheless, Al-Dahdouh resumed his coverage of the conflict within less than 24 hours, demonstrating a level of strength and dedication that has been seen time and time again in the people of Palestine throughout their history. Some excuse murders like those of Al-Dahouh’s family by arguing that Gaza’s incredibly high population density, greater than that of any major American city, makes the death of civilians inevitable. However, this density is the result of a deliberate, decades-long policy by the Israeli government to force Palestinians out of the towns in which they once lived in southern Israel and corral them into what has been called the world’s largest open air prison.
While Biden has made statements calling for Israel to avoid civilian casualties, he is at the same time pushing Congress to pass a bill granting $14.3 billion in military aid to Israel, much of which is for weapons that would almost certainly be used to kill innocent Palestinians. For example, the State Department recently approved the Israeli government’s purchase of 24,000 assault rifles from U.S. gunmakers, even though many of the guns will go to paramilitary groups made up of Israeli settlers in the West Bank who have already shown their propensity for killing innocents. The Biden administration’s true intentions were made clear after multiple sources confirmed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked the Qatari government to “tone down” Al-Jazeera’s coverage, a glaring contradiction of the White House’s previous statements on the importance of press freedom.
The same political and media elite that condemned Putin for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty is now supporting Israel’s efforts to stamp out what little independence the people of Gaza have left. The only commonality between Israel and Ukraine is the potential profit they represent for the U.S.’s military-industrial complex. Fortunately, this hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed, and the resulting divide between our democratically elected politicians and the people they supposedly represent is stark. Tens of thousands have gathered in cities across the country to protest the government’s efforts to legitimize and support the Israeli military. A CBS poll found that 52 percent of Americans are opposed to sending arms to Israel, while 57 percent believe the government should send humanitarian aid to Palestine. Meanwhile, the weapons are flowing but the assistance is not, and neither is aid from other countries, thanks to the Israeli blockade. According to Data for Progress, 80 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans support a U.S. call for a ceasefire. However, not a single senator, and only 18 congresspeople, all of whom are Democrats, are in favor of a ceasefire.
Nevertheless, the political order is beginning to crack under public pressure. Immediately after the October 7 attacks by Hamas against Israeli soldiers and civilians, politicians like Biden declared their “rock-solid support” for an Israeli offensive, omitting any reference to the Palestinians who would die in its wake. Now, the administration is taking a somewhat more critical tone toward the Israeli government and is at least rhetorically lamenting the deaths of innocent children. However, these statements are a distraction; American policymakers are still not willing to leverage U.S. support to halt the Israeli military’s war crimes, as we’ve seen from the continual flow of military aid as the bodies have piled up. That’s why public support for Palestinian liberation among the Western public has to not just remain steady but continue growing to ensure any chance of substantively changing our government’s policies towards Israel. Whether our political leaders like it or not, no amount of propaganda funded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) can change the truth, and we must use what’s left of our democratic system to end the ethnic cleansing that we see unfolding before our very eyes.