War operates on a spectrum. There is the threat of war, often enough in itself to alter the course of events. There are proxy wars, generally reserved for large nation states and colonial powers who wish to keep a veneer of respectability as they murder through others. There are asymmetrical wars, which are short, and symmetrical wars which are long and drawn out, and over time both sides tire. Genocide is not war, it is beyond war – it is the act of violent amputation, of severing a part of our shared humanity, our shared consciousness. 

Genocide brings with it a meanness where the eyes of the perpetrator are sealed shut and acts of incredible cruelty emerge from the dark recesses of the mind. The behaviours are morally depraved and frenzied, and the culprit continually looks to mainline another fix of savagery.

Photo: Sul Nowroz


Being a Palestinian Is a Miracle.

There are only 15 million Palestinians on the planet. Just over half live outside their homeland as refugees and have no right of return. The remaining 7 million are dispersed across three territories: the occupied West Bank (the second longest occupation in modern history), the illegally besieged Ghazzah Strip and the unceded lands of what is referred to as pre-1948 Palestine. Palestinians are a people who are either exiled or live under some form of occupation.

The last comprehensive census on Palestinian inter-generational incarceration across the three territories concluded that between 1967 and 2012 one in five, or twenty percent of the population had been detained for ‘activities against the occupation.’ For the male population it was forty percent. In 2015 Israel’s Haaretz news outlet suggested that a staggering seventy percent of Palestinian families have had “one or more family members sentenced to jail terms in Israeli prisons for acts of resistance against the occupation.”

Identifying Palestinian deaths attributed directly to the occupation is difficult, due to lack of transparency by the Israeli government and poor access to the sites where the killings took place. However, triangulating data from the United Nations, The Palestinian Ministry for Health and the Red Crescent Society we can assume at least 7,000 Palestinians have been killed between 2008 and July 2023, seventy percent in Ghazzah.

Since 7th October 20,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered in Ghazzah, and up to 8,000 bodies are believed to be trapped in the rubble, most presumed dead. Approximately 300 Palestinians have been gunned down in the occupied West Bank.

An average of 440 Palestinians are dying each day.

Source: Twitter 2021


Ghazzah’s Calories 

Living in Ghazzah has always been tough. Since 2007 Israel enforced an air, sea and land blockade, which despite being deemed illegal remains in place sixteen years later. Israel has never been sanctioned over this overt breach of international law.

Israel controls all movement of goods into the territory. The UK’s Guardian newspaper revealed Israel maintained a list of foods that were permitted and banned from Ghazzah. In 2010 juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, crisps, cookies, and sweets  were allowed in for the first time since 2007. Certain luxury items, honey, instant coffee and spices, remained banned because according to Israeli military spokesman Major Guy Inbar they “will not be consumed by the public – but only by the rich and corrupt Hamas leaders.” The scandalous prescription over what Palestinians could consume at their dining tables continued unabated and unchallenged by any western government.

In 2012, after a lengthy legal battle, Israeli NGO Gisha obtained an ominous document titled Red Lines. The document was a collaboration between Israel’s security services and perversely, its Ministry of Health, and its aim was to calculate “the minimal subsistence basket based on the Arab sector* [Ghazzah] in Israel. The ‘minimum basket’ allows nutrition that is sufficient for subsistence without the development of malnutrition.” By calculating the exact calorific needs, according to age and gender, the document aimed to keep Ghazzans one calorie away from being malnourished.

The document was completed in January 2008 and concluded that Ghazzah needed 106 food delivery trucks daily. Despite knowing this, Israel only allowed an average of 67 trucks a day into Ghazzah between 2007 and 2010.  

In August 2021 Defence Minister Benny Gantz – Israel’s highest ranking military official – ordered the confiscation of twenty-three tons of chocolate bars bound for Ghazzah.

On October 8th 2023, Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, declared “a complete blockade of Gaza. No electricity. No food. No fuel. No water.” In doing so Gallant unwittingly confirmed what many suspected: despite the embarrassment of the Red Lines document years earlier, Israel continued to exercise full control over what entered Ghazzah and in what quantities, even down to the number of calories. 

Source: Twitter / Abdulla_Alamadi

(* ‘The Arab sector in Israel’ refers to Ghazzah, which is in fact Palestinian territory, illegally occupied by Israel).


You Are Not Human Beings

Gideon Levy is an outlier. He is one of Israel’s leading journalists and is well-versed in the occupied territories, having travelled them extensively. Levy has been shot at by Israeli soldiers, physically assaulted by illegal settlers and has been called a national security risk by government officials. Levy is the proverbial thorn-in-the-side, and through his keyboard he constantly reminds readers of Israel’s ongoing land theft and its oppression of the Palestinian people.

Earlier this week Levy published an opinion piece in Haaretz about the current attacks on Ghazzah. He opened with his signature directness: “We’ve never before had a war like this … a war of total silence, a war of blind support; a war without objection, without protest, without refusal to serve, without opposition … and without question marks or even any doubts.”

This blind support has been carefully cultivated over decades and began with the ‘othering’ of Palestinians. In 2012 Levy’s publisher, Haaretz, commissioned a significant piece of research using polling company Dialog and a sample group of Israeli Jews. In a normal functioning society, the results would have set off alarm bells; in Israel the government and public at large barely blinked an eye, such was the normalisation of segregation and discrimination. 

Photo: Sul Nowroz

What did the research conclude?  More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews would deny Palestinians living in the West Bank the right to vote if the area was ever formally annexed by Israel, three out of four were in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians, sixty percent believed Israel already practised apartheid against Palestinians (despite government denials), a third wanted Israeli Arabs to be banned from voting in parliamentary elections, six out of ten said Israeli Jews should be given preference to Israeli Arabs in government jobs, almost half of the respondents said Jewish citizens should be treated better than Arab citizens, over forty percent of Jews did not want to live in the same building as Palestinians. Most worryingly, the same percentage didn’t want their children going to the same schools. If the children weren’t to mix, this ‘shameless and guiltless’ racism as Levy called it, would be passed down through the generations.

On Friday November 24th the first prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel took place. Over the coming days Hamas released a total of 50 captives, Israel 150. Amongst those released from Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank was a Palestinian woman, referred to as DD. She gave compelling testimony on the conditions of her detention. She also spoke about the treatment of Ghazzan women held in the same prison as her.

They were transported to Israel from Ghazzah where they had been arrested. They are broken into small groups, cuffed and blindfolded. Headscarves and hijabs are forcibly removed. They were forced onto the ground to degrade them. Their shoes were removed. Israeli soldiers mocked them. They are not allowed to mix with other detainees. Their requests for food, water, and blankets were responded to with ‘you are not human beings, and you don’t have needs.’

DD did manage to briefly speak to one Ghazzan woman, whom she referred to as Iman in her testimony.

Iman told us she was evacuating from north Ghazzah to the south using the defined safe passage corridor. She was walking, carrying her baby son. She arrived at a military check point, was stopped, and arrested. She was told to place the baby on the ground, which she did. She was forced into a vehicle and driven here. Iman hasn’t seen her baby since.

Source: Twitter


Emigration or Annihilation

In March 2023, eleven years after the Haaretz research and seven months before the Ghazzan genocide began, Israeli Finance Minister and hawk Bezalel Smotrich was invited to speak in Paris. Bathing in the confidence of his right-wing boss Netanyahu, and eager to impress a nationalistic audience at home, Smotrich surmised that the very notion of a Palestinian people was artificial.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. There is no Palestinian history. There is no Palestinian language,” he proclaimed from a lectern draped in a cloth map of Greater Israel. Smotrich concluded his remarks by calling the Palestinian people an invention, “fictitious people with a fictitious claim.”

Smotrich was parroting from his Decisive Plan, an “end game” for the Palestinian occupation. In this document-come-manifesto he provides the Palestinians with a choice: renounce your aspirations for a nation state and live amongst us with inferior status – or emigrate. Those inclined to assert any form of independence, or champion rights based on a notion of Palestinian statehood will be designated enemies, and Israel will “kill those who need to be killed.”

Smotrich’ Decisive Plan concludes that resistance doesn’t derive from despair but from hope.

Genocide is beyond war because it removes the collective hope of a people. It does so by extinguishing whole swathes of the population, targeting the young and the youngest to stunt lineage, and persecuting the female body to interrupt future reproduction. Two thirds of Ghazzah’s dead are women and children. 

At some point the guns and rockets and missiles will fall silent. Israeli soldiers will return to the homes they have stolen and be neighbours and colleagues once again, living together, working together. But amongst them will be the corpse of Ghazzah and the shadows of sociopaths. How will they ever trust each other again? 

©2023 Sul Nowroz – staff writer