n the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza the world is once again witnessing heart-wrenching images of carnage, the destruction of urban areas, the lifeless bodies of innocent victims, including children, and the agony of injured survivors. These images are the irrefutable testament of the barbarity unleashed upon Gaza by Israel and its allies.
The relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip using thousands of tons of explosives has turned half of Gaza into rubble. However, at the same time it has also buried Western pretensions towards civilisation and moral advancement.
By indiscriminately killing civilians, bombing schools and hospitals, and cutting off water and electricity, Israel and its allies have effectively lost all claims to represent enlightenment or progress and in fact seem to have gone back to mediaeval times. This is a major setback these that countries will not be able to recover from. Images of their unconditional support for these massacres will haunt them for centuries to come.
The Western allies of Israel have shown themselves to be the true remnants of their imperial pasts and as being run by compromised governments that are clinging on to power through deception, war-mongering, and corruption. These countries have been actively supporting Israel in its violence against Palestine for the last five decades, and today they once again stand fully behind the Israeli state, their hands dripping with the blood of Palestinians, among them young children.
Since the beginning of Israel’s attack on Gaza, there have been tens of thousands of people on the streets of major cities in the US, the UK, Germany and France protesting in support of Palestine and demanding that their governments take action to put an end to the unrelenting bombing and the massacre of civilians. However, these governments have refused to change their stance of unconditional support for Israel.
They are sending more funds, more arms, and more warships to Israel so that it does not lack the fire power needed to kill the entire population of Gaza and raze the entire Strip to the ground. This represents the collapse of the West’s political system, which is supposedly based on the principles of democracy.
On 25 October, after 18 days of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said that “we do not demand a ceasefire, and we do not believe that Israel has violated any international laws.” Yet, by this same date the reported number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza had reached 5,791 people dead, including 2,300 children, and 16,791 injured, with some 43 per cent of housing units and buildings in Gaza destroyed.
The whole of the Gaza Strip now lacks electricity, fuel, and water, but the UK government “does not believe” that Israel has violated international law. Doctors in Gaza are carrying out surgery using the torches on their mobile phones, but US President Joe Biden keeps repeating that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” In a recent UN General Assembly Resolution 120 countries demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but the UK and US were not among them.
The reason is that real power in these so-called democracies lies in the hands of a tiny elite. Voters become redundant once governments are formed, and this elite is able to take whatever decisions and allocate whatever funds it wants, even if that funding is paying for genocide. As long as decisions go through the right procedural hoops, they are deemed to be legal. That is all the justification they need.
How else could five of the most powerful countries in the world join forces to bombard an unarmed civilian population in violation of international law? How is this attack on Gaza different in its essence from the massacres of mediaeval tyrants, aside from the fact that it is being done in the name of Western people and funded by their taxes?
When Israel started carpet-bombing Gaza on 8 October, all its allies stood firmly by its side. But does this decision reflect the will of their populations? If the decision was in fact made by a select few, as seems to be the case, how do these countries differ from non-democratic regimes?
Which is more frightening – the idea that the majority of the population of the US, the UK, Germany, and France is in favour of the genocide of civilians, including children, trapped on a tiny strip of land and imparting collective punishment on them, or the idea that the majority of the population of these countries is against this decision, but that it is going on anyway, courtesy of their governments?
The Israeli army has targeted homes and hospitals in Gaza, but it has also blasted away the self-proclaimed superiority of its Western allies. The raining down of bombs on civilians is threatening to obliterate international law and human rights conventions.
The Israeli army has targeted and killed journalists, but the collateral damage has included the Western media channels, now stripped of their credibility. Israel has cut off electricity and water to Gaza as a collective punishment of the population, and it has also fatally undermined diplomatic and economic cooperation in the Middle East as a whole.
What the rubble covers in Gaza today, along with the toys and school bags of brutally killed Palestinian children, is the UN and its institutions, along with the charred remains of international human rights conventions and international laws.
Beautiful babies, held in the arms of their parents, have been killed mercilessly by Israel and its allies. At the same time, the pretensions towards leadership of the Western democracies have been destroyed. They have only magnified the grotesque and hideous face of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
These martyred children will forever live in our hearts as beloved heroes who led the way to freedom. Gaza has already won this war.
The writer is a human rights activist.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly