What Can Stop Genocide in Gaza?
On Nov. 6, Palestinian health authorities announced that the death toll in Gaza had exceeded 10,000, prompting UN Secretary General Guterres to exclaim that Gaza is becoming “a graveyard for children”. Just one day earlier, Israeli forces had cut off all communications in the Gaza Strip for the third time, fully surrounded Gaza City and cut the Gaza Strip in two. Should they move into Gaza City, the level of carnage will rise dramatically.
Already now, there are some 1.4 million internally “displaced” people, homeless, hungry and terrified, out of a total population of 2.3 million in the Gaza Strip. Refugee camps, hospitals and schools have been bombed.
Although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been visiting several countries in the region, he has repeatedly rejected the idea of a ceasefire, merely calling for more aid deliveries to be allowed in, while imperiously warning the Hezbollah and Iran not to get involved. If they do, the conflict will spiral out of control. Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, has refused to consider any ceasefire, in spite of the danger for the lives of the hostages, and in spite of increasing isolation internationally.
Mass protests in the West have been growing, and also in Israel, as the horror of genocide in Gaza looms. In London, tens of thousands crowded into Trafalgar Square, on Nov. 4, following demonstrations of up to 100,000 on the previous two Saturdays. Some 20,000 marched in Paris, after the police finally authorized the protest, up to 6,000 took to the streets of Berlin under strict control, and thousands more demonstrated in Milan and Rome. This is useful, but is not enough. Many more actions are planned, as well as direct lobbying of political representatives.
Officials of the United Nations relief agencies have seen many atrocities, yet, they are still shocked by what is happening in Gaza. Thus, the heads of 11 UN agencies and six humanitarian organizations have signed a joint appeal dated Nov. 5 calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the unrestricted entry of humanitarian relief for its people. “For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiraling numbers of lives lost and torn apart”, says the appeal. It deplores the 1,400 people killed in Israel, the thousands injured, and the 200 hostages taken.
However, the appeal continues, “the horrific killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage, as is cutting off 2.2 million Palestinians from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel…. An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable.”
Among the signers are Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director General.
The presidency of the UN Security Council is held this November by China, which has called for an immediate ceasefire and convening of an international peace conference. The Schiller Institute proposes to add to the agenda concrete economic initiatives, that can serve as a basis for peace and beneficial cooperation between Israel and Palestine. That, however, requires a change in thinking comparable to that experienced by Itzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in their time (cf. below).