The Collective Punishment of Palestinians in Gaza
Excerpt from the Wilson Center’s ViewPoint series. Source Link.
The killing of more than 1300 Israelis—soldiers, innocent children and civilians—by Hamas shocked Israel and the world. Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem characterized the government’s retaliation as “revenge policy in motion,” exacting collective punishment on all Palestinians in Gaza, where children make up half of the population. Netanyahu’s plan to wipe out Hamas is waged with illegal weapons and war tactics, including cutting off all supplies of water, food and fuel, and reports of white phosphorous bombs. The death toll in Gaza is so far 2950, including 1030 children, 11,250 injured and 1 million displaced persons, and the numbers will likely grow exponentially with the imminent ground invasion by Israel.
No innocent civilian, especially children, should ever be a casualty of war. Since its 2005 withdrawal, Gaza has been bombed five times by Israel resulting in thousands of civilian casualties. For sixteen years, Gazans have been under a naval, air and land blockade. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories face a daily regimen of brutality with 190 Palestinians killed since early 2023. Within the past week, 54 civilians have been killed and 1,100 wounded in the West Bank by the Israeli army and Jewish settlers.
It was wishful thinking to believe in a durable peace based on the Abraham accords while maintaining the “world’s largest open-air prison” and ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. President Biden declared “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop,” but recently said reoccupying Gaza would be a “big mistake.” The use of total siege and forced displacement of civilians are considered war crimes. The United States should urgently impose a cease-fire and demand humanitarian corridors with medical aid, food, and water for civilians in the Gaza strip. Failure to act quickly would substantiate the words of Israel’s minister of defense of an Orwellian world that is divided between more equal and lesser “human animals.”