Israel’s neo-Holocaust

Islam Rihan
Tuesday 24 Oct 2023

Israel’s military campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza risks fuelling further unrest across the region and even a regional war, writes Islam Rihan


The unwavering support of Western governments, especially the US and UK, for the claim that Israel is acting in self-defence in its military campaign against the Gaza Strip is fuelling widespread unrest throughout the region.

The official addresses, religious condemnations, and public demonstrations are all indicators of increasing protests that may lead to further serious consequences unless of course Israel ends its neo-Holocaust against the Palestinians.

Israel has instrumentalised the actions by Hamas on 7 October, the so-called “Al-Aqsa Flood,” against its settlements through a brutal and barbaric retaliation campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza. The true intentions underlying Israel’s war on the Palestinians have been exposed through the atrocities that have been committed thus far. Israel is currently killing as many Palestinians as possible in the Gaza Strip, already under siege, and turning a blind eye to international law and international humanitarian law.

It is acting as if it were in a race against time before further international pressure that could lead to an end to its neo-Holocaust of the Palestinians. Israel is determined to confiscate or occupy Palestinian land. Those Arab countries that are aware of this intention have all made statements rejecting any further enforced displacement of the Palestinians from their homeland.

At this point in Israel’s campaign against Gaza and the Palestinians, three observations can be made.

The first is that the atrocities currently being committed by Israel with the backing and approval of the Western powers are among the most heinous in modern history. Waging a full-scale war against unarmed civilians in a large open-air prison and severing all the necessities of life, such as water, food, gas, and electricity, constitutes a grave crime against humanity, including the crimes of intentional mass murder and genocide.

These actions resemble previous European colonial strategies. The declaration by Israel’s defence minister that the country is fighting “human animals” is only a restatement of the older narratives cited by Europeans in committing genocide against the “savage” indigenous peoples of what are now the United States, Canada, and Australia. Israel is no exception to this rule, and therefore the unwavering support for Israel of the Europeans, Americans, and British may not be solely motivated by political considerations but may instead be a sign of a collective awareness that this was also the way they accomplished their own past objectives.

Will the international community fail to halt Israel’s aspiration to seize all the remaining Palestinian land?

The second is that the Israeli claim that Hamas militants are sheltering in civilian buildings and are using civilians as human-shields should normally lead to the utmost care being taken to avoid civilian causalities. Yet, Israel, in violation of international law which specifically applies to it as an “occupying state,” has instead adopted a “kill all Palestinians” approach. Thus, it is evident that the Israeli approach of mass murder and genocide has also extended to the West Bank.

This leads to a second fundamental question that also applies to other conflicts including the Russia-Ukraine war. Does the realist school of thought in international relations explain this retreat from respecting international law and international human rights law?

The third observation is that the involvement of the European and US governments in the atrocities perpetrated by Israel exposes their own identity narratives. While they may preach human rights principles, these have absolutely no meaning in their approach to this conflict. The European and US governments are cracking down on free speech on social media platforms, and they have not officially condemned crimes committed against civilians in Gaza or the West Bank. The European Parliament, which has been constantly calling for resolutions on the human rights situation in the Arab countries, has not voiced its concern at Israeli actions thus far.

The Israeli war on Palestine is bringing the region to the brink of a regional if not a world war. Can peace be restored before it is too late?

* The writer is a researcher in human rights.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 26 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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