Genocide in Gaza

Dina Ezzat , Friday 3 Nov 2023

“The Israeli war on Gaza will not end anytime soon,” said an informed Egyptian source. He added that the ground has been set for a long war given the green light Israel received from its allies following the operation Hamas conducted against the south of Israel on 7 October.

photo: AP
photo: AP


The source spoke on Tuesday, at the end of the third week of Israel’s attack on Gaza that has so far killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, left thousands wounded with little if any possibility of medical treatment, demolished at least one third of Palestinian homes, and displaced 1.5 million Palestinians with little hope of returning within the next few years given the extent of the destruction caused by Israel’s relentless attack.

“The is not just about the damage though the damage is shocking. The issue is about the Israeli plan for Gaza which has a lot of support in the West,” the same source said.

“The Israelis want to keep at least one third of the land in Gaza empty. They want a two-layered buffer zone with some international — possibly Arab or African — presence between the south of Israel and Gaza,” he explained. Israel also wants to manage a wider “international presence” around Gaza to make sure the Strip is completely sealed.

“The creation of a mega explosive bomb” is not a situation Egypt can deal with.

“When it comes to Gaza, Egypt has to be very upfront about its worries because Gaza is just next to us.”

Egypt has made it clear “at the highest levels” that the post-war administration and security of Gaza must be directly managed by the Palestinians. “There is the Palestinian Authority [PA] and there are other political factions in Gaza that have to be taken into consideration as the world discusses the post-war scenarios,” said the source.

Egypt, he explained, is not in favour of the depopulation of the north of Gaza or the introduction of new international security arrangements which will kill any chance for future peace negotiations.

What Egypt proposes, added the source, is the return of the PA to Gaza in a consensual arrangement “with political factions there” and that future security arrangements, both short and long term, “be managed with the PA”.

The PA has had no say in Gaza since inter-factional fighting in 2007 between Hamas, which won a landslide legislative in the previous year’s elections, and Fatah, the most influential faction in the PA. Subsequent attempts at Palestinian reconciliation, including those hosted by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria, have all failed.

Today, the source said, “we are not talking about Palestinian reconciliation, we are talking about the fate of the Palestinian cause and the stability of the region.” He argued that it is inevitable that Hamas will sustain major political losses, regionally and internationally, for having “executed the 7 October attack which gave Israel a pretext to destroy north Gaza and ask for a buffer zone to protect its settlers.”

“No other faction in Gaza can run the Strip, certainly not in the face of a war that will last at least until the end of the year,” he added, making it essential to call on the PA irrespective of the nature of any future arrangements that will “inevitably be enforced on the ground”.

Meanwhile, “Egypt is not going to take any responsibility for the Strip and this is final, which is why we are insisting on the need to bring back the PA.”

Egyptian officials have regularly referenced Israeli proposals, supported by the US, for Egypt to consider co-managing Gaza. According to the officials, Cairo has no interest in the proposals.

Busy with the future of Gaza, Cairo is also very worried about the situation on the ground. Speaking on the 25th day of the Israeli aggression, the source said Palestinians are “living a nightmare in Gaza.”

He spoke as Israel attacked and destroyed Jabalia refugee camp, resulting in the death of hundreds.

“This a text-book case of genocide,” wrote Craig Mokhiber, director of the UN office for the high commissioner for human rights, in his resignation letter to VolkerTurk, the UN high commissioner for human rights. He continued: “The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs… leaves no room for doubt.”

Mokhiber is the first UN official to resign over the Israeli aggression in Gaza. He cited the US, UK, and much of Europe as “wholly complicit in the horrific assault”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also criticised the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Israeli war on Gaza, warning that the 7 October Hamas attacks did not come out of nowhere, an implicit reference to decades long Israeli occupation and blockade of Palestinian territory. Other demands for Israel to observe international humanitarian law have come from UNRWA, OCHA, UNICEF, and WHO.

Israel’s response has been to intensify its air strikes on Gaza, begin ground operations, and prevent relief convoys from entering the Gaza Strip. By Tuesday, less than 200 trucks had been allowed to enter. Before the war, 500 trucks carrying essential but still inadequate supplies, entered Gaza daily.

“We are working on securing more crossings but it is a very complex process given the cycle of screening and inspection Israel demands,” the source said.

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of wounded Palestinians, many with life-threatening injuries, struggle to access any form of health care. Egypt has already established a high-capacity field hospital close to the border for those with grave injuries and ICU patients.

On Tuesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli made a visit to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, which has been hit four times by Israeli air strikes. He stressed Egypt has no plans to allow Palestinians driven from Gaza by the Israeli war to remain permanently.

The future of Gaza, both during and after the war, will be discussed in an emergency Arab summit that Saudi Arabia is hosting on 11 November following an appeal by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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