The West’s Moral Fitness to Survive Put to the Test in Gaza

On May 11, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued an “urgent warning” to residents of central Rafah to immediately evacuate the area, which would soon become a “dangerous combat zone”, and go immediately to the “humanitarian zone” in the coastal area of Al Mawasi. Likewise, Palestinians in the northern Gaza camp of Jabalia, have been told to evacuate to Gaza City in the northwest. What is there at these “humanitarian zones”? Nothing – no water, electricity, health care, housing, food. And yet, the IDF statement asserts that its orders for civilians to relocate are done in accordance with international law.

Some 1,2 million Palestinians had sheltered in Rafah in recent weeks, about half of them children, according to UNICEF. Over 300,000 people have now fled the area, on IDF orders, and tens of thousands more are attempting to. The Israel government shut down the two border entry points of Rafah and Kerem Shalom over one week ago. Since then, spokesmen for public and private aid organizations have sounded the alarm. For six days, no fuel or humanitarian aid at all entered Gaza, UNICEF reported. Hospitals and clinics have had to shut down, and the World Food Programme and UNRWA warned that there would be no more food to distribute as of May 12, forcing the Israeli government to let a few convoys enter.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has again warned that a massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to an “epic humanitarian disaster” and make it impossible for the UN to support the civilians now threatened with famine. He repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire and an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as “the resumption of the entry of life-saving supplies – including desperately needed fuel – through Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings”.

Many countries from the Global South have denounced the unconscionable offensive against Rafah and demanded action from the Security Council to end it, including Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, Türkiye and South Africa.

The one government that could put sufficient pressure on the crazed Netanyahu government to stop the extermination policy is in Washington. U.S. President Biden finally did have to threaten to end the shipment of some military equipment if Israel launched a “major” military operation against Rafah. But just a few days later, the State Department issued its findings on Israel’s conduct of the war and possible violations of international humanitarian law. Contrary to reports from virtually all UN organizations, the report concludes that Israel is now complying with the need to allow entry of the assistance needed. Note that the unconditional support for Israel among leaders of the Republican Party is even more outrageous than that of the Biden Administration.

This underscores the need to amplify the protests, which have continued to grow in the United States, with the support of a number of anti-war Jewish organizations, and have spread to many college campuses despite the brutal crackdowns (cf. below). What is urgently needed, beyond the calls for an immediate cease-fire and release of all hostages, is a positive focus for the ferment, which is provided by the perspective for mutual development for all of South-West Asia, as envisaged in the Schiller Institute’s Oasis Plan.

We invite our readers to endorse the Oasis Plan and help make it a widely discussed programmatic alternative by signing the call here.

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