If you look at Google Maps, you will notice that there is no country or territory labelled Palestine. But search for Israel and Google Maps shows you a long and narrow-shaped piece of land in the historic region of Palestine. How did this happen?
It is a well-established fact that Palestinians have been suffering under Israeli occupation for the last 75 years. However, I believe “75 years of occupation” is a miscalculation. The unofficial occupation began decades before the creation of Israel and when Palestinians were expelled from their land as the original owners in 1948, setting into motion “the Manhattan Project of a post-colonial occupation” in Palestine.
At this very moment, the lives of Palestinians are increasingly at stake. With full political and strategic support from the West, Israel is committing unspeakable atrocities against Palestinians: a systematic genocide that will ensure the extermination of thousands of people and total demolition of their infrastructure — leaving millions refugees.
In this article, I will look at the term genocide, and demonstrate its validity in the Israeli context from an academic perspective. Furthermore, I will discuss how the West is blatantly supporting and patronizing this war crime in a hypocritical manner.
On October 7th, Hamas’s military operation into Israeli territory brought worldwide attention to Palestine and Israel. In response to Hamas’s attack, Israel declared a state of war and is bombarding Gaza, killing thousands of innocent civilians, including children, and demolishing swathes of infrastructure in the territory. In other words, under the guise of revenge, Israel is carrying out mass murder. There are many elements of Israel’s war crimes that conspicuously indicate the core symptoms of ethnic cleansing occurring in Palestine.
The Israeli government justifies the indiscriminate air attacks in Gaza by arguing that they always “warn” Palestinians to evacuate their houses, buildings, and areas before bombings.1 Consider the absurdity: how are you absolved of the murder of thousands of innocent people just because you warned them? When Russia applied the same excuse during its occupation in Ukraine, the Western world was outraged. In fact, the EU parliament went as far as declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as state-sponsored terrorism.2 In contrast, Israel continues to receive condolences, solidarity, money, and military support from the West for its terrorism in Palestine.
Palestinians are experiencing one of the world’s longest ongoing occupations and Israel, along with the West, is responsible. In this conflict, there are two parties: Palestine, the occupied, and Israel, the occupier. One can understand this by referring to the fact that Palestine does not have any organized military, whereas Israel has one of the strongest militaries in the world.3 International law supports Palestinians’ struggle for their liberation and they have every right to liberate themselves. Instead, their struggles are labeled as terrorism by the West.
In the aftermath of Hamas’s attack, Israel is orchestrating a genocide against innocent and unarmed civilians in Gaza using and abusing the “Israel has the right to defend itself” rhetoric. The question is, can we call it a genocide? The simple answer? Yes, we can.
How is ‘Genocide’ Defined?
Raphael Lemkin (1900–59), a Polish-Jewish jurist, coined the term “genocide” and popularized it in a global context.4 International law clearly defines genocide in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948:
“Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”5
Using this definition, we find that the first three points unquestionably resemble the current circumstances of the Gaza. Israel has a long history of violating international laws and is repeatedly violating the laws of the Genocide Convention by killing civilians, causing physical and mental harm, and deteriorating the condition of life through massive physical destruction in Gaza.
The first point of the Genocide Convention definition refers to killing members of the group; since October 7th, Israel massacred more than 7,131 Palestinians including 2,913 children and 1,709 women.6 These deaths are not causalities and collateral damage of war — they are the deliberate killing of an ethnic group.
The second point refers to causing serious bodily and mental harm; the indiscriminate and ruthless persecution by the Israeli army has injured more than 17,450 Palestinians 7 and has caused serious damage to the mental health of civilians, especially children. The immeasurable suffering of war leads to the rise in psychological and cognitive disorders among children who suffer in the long term from their impact. Dr. Iman Farajallah, a psychologist based in the U.S., found that 95 percent of children from Gaza showed signs of anxiety, depression and trauma from the ongoing violence they experienced regularly.8
The third point mentions the intentional physical destruction and its damaging impact on the condition of life of the persecuted group. Israeli military has deteriorated the conditions of life, destroying several thousands of infrastructure in Gaza including residential units, places of worship, medical centers, education facilities, and so on.9In the course of their latest aggression, the socio-economic condition of the people of Gaza has taken a turn for the worse, nearly overnight. The tragedy of Al Ahli Baptist Hospital is just a recent example proving the deception of Israel as it continues on its rampage.
Gregory Stanton, former professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University, proposed the Ten Stages of Genocide, a sophisticated tool to predict and scrutinize genocide.10 The ten stages are as follows: classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination, and denial.
These stages do not necessarily have to occur step-by-step. If some of these elements systematically exist, it would be enough to consider it a genocide. Upon analyzing Israeli aggression in Gaza, it becomes clear that Israel is deliberately using the recent attack by Hamas as a scapegoat to indiscriminately kill innocent Palestinians including thousands of children. Many of the stages of genocide such as discrimination (cutting off electricity, water, and internet.), dehumanization (labeling Palestinians as human animals and children of darkness), preparation (ground invasion), persecution (bombardments and rocket firing), extermination (ethnic cleansing and genocide), and denial (lies, propaganda, and disinformation) are underway and a cause for grave concern.
It should be noted that throughout history, the perpetrators of genocide generally committed their crimes in secret, resorting to repeated denials of their actions. Yet, Israel has only escalated in its bold aggression; not only do they justify their war crimes they also brag about it on news and social media channels, fueled by the blatantly violent rhetoric of their government officials — another grievous example of state-sponsored genocide. It is truly difficult to evaluate the Zionist psyche: The Holocaust was brought upon the European Jews by Germany, and the casualties and consequences of the Holocaust are being inflicted upon the Palestinians by Israel.
Western Support and Negligence
We are all too familiar with Israel’s tendency to victimize itself. But, the country is the so-called apple of the Western eye; it receives near-unconditional support from the United States and other allies in Europe, backed by their money, weapons, and mass media. A few days ago, the U.S. sent warships and aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to protect Israel from so-called “terrorists” while also receiving five shipments of weapons and other equipment.11 Biden is now seeking 14 billion dollars in aid for Israel12 something even the Ukrainians did not receive.
Likewise, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Rishi Sunak and other prominent Western leaders expressed their unequivocal solidarity with Israel and completely denied the war crimes committed by “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, vehemently criticized Russia for cutting off men, women, and children from water and electricity in Ukraine deeming them “acts of pure terror” and war crimes.13 When Israel committed those same acts in Gaza, von der Leyen refused to condemn Israel or accept Israeli war crimes in Gaza asserting instead that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”14 If this is not the epitome of hypocrisy I am not sure what is.
Similarly, Western media is fighting to spread Israel’s narrative. Commenting on their behavior, Husam Zolmot, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, aptly retorted to Piers Morgan on his show, “They lie more than they breathe.”15 All the lies, rumors, and disinformation that Israel invents to manipulate the truth with falsehood are mindlessly gobbled up by Western media, shamelessly confusing people in order to provide grounds for Israel’s atrocities in Gaza. Social media has been flooded with fake stories and disinformation spread by Israeli propagandists; for example, the AI-generated images of burnt bodies of infants, fake stories of 40 decapitated babies, fake audio voice recordings of Hamas militants and so on. The Western media took such these stories and ran with it spreading lies and disinformation without any proper verification, and failing to offer corrections even though they have been proven false.
Some commentators have dubbed October 7th as Israel’s 9/11, perhaps they should recall that “Israel’s 9/11” is Palestine’s 24/7. It is truly atrocious to witness the silence of the West on Israeli war crimes and their refusal to hold them to account, which only further motivates Israel’s heinous mission in Palestine.
Palestine is an issue where liberal hypocrisy becomes crystal clear. All the major features of the liberal package such as human rights, liberty, political freedom, freedom of speech, rule of law, equality, etc. are null and void when it comes to Palestine. For instance, denial of the Holocaust in the West is a criminal offense, but European countries are now attempting to ban the pro-Palestine movement.16 To no surprise, France, one of the purported stakeholders of liberal secularism and the so-called defender of free speech, has jumped to ban pro-Palestinian rallies.17Germany is also following suit, claiming that they are “preventing anti-semitism” by banning pro-Palestine movements. In many areas, the slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” is now considered anti-semitic. So far the actions of the Western world have only cemented their support of the ongoing genocide, as their wreck of liberal ideals lies in a comatose state.
In 2011, Ben Shapiro, editor of The Daily Wire tweeted, “There should be no Palestinian state aside from Jordan. Ever.” His statement concisely summarizes what Israeli politicians, ministers and other government officials have openly declared: “We are dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Gaza. The focus is on destruction, not accuracy.” (Daniel Hagari, Israeli army spokesperson) and “Not there is only one goal: nakba [expulsion of the Palestinians]. A nakba in Gaza that will dwarf the Nakba of 1948.” Israel does not care about the Palestinians, its only concern is acquiring Palestinian land and colonizing the rest of it.
So far, Muslim governments have failed to offer any solution for the Palestinians. Their betrayal, (especially those of the signatories of The Abraham Accords) escalated the possibility of genocide in Gaza. However, despite all these atrocities and brutalities against Palestinians, there is still hope. The Muslim Ummah has never left the Palestinians and we do see signs of the global narrative beginning to change. In such times, we, as an Ummah, should strive to use our voices according to our capabilities: through movements, rallies, religious works, social media, writing articles, and holding productive dialogues that champion our narrative and pressure our governments to act accordingly. If Allah wills, Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.
Disclaimer: Material published by Traversing Tradition is meant to foster scholarly inquiry and rich discussion. The views, opinions, beliefs, or strategies represented in published articles and subsequent comments do not necessarily represent the views of Traversing Tradition or any employee thereof.Endnotes
- Gostoli, Ylenia. 2023. “’Nowhere safe to go’: Confusion, fear after Israel’s warning to evacuate.” Al Jazeera, October 13, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/13/nowhere-safe-to-go-confusion-fear-after-israels-warning-to-evacuate.
- Afp, Le Monde With. 2022. “EU Parliament Declares Russia a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism.’” Le Monde.Fr, November 23, 2022. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/international/article/2022/11/23/eu-parliament-declares-russia-a-state-sponsor-of-terrorism_6005338_4.html.
- “2023 Israel Military Strength.” n.d. http://Www.GlobalFirepower.Com. https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.php?country_id=israel.
- Jones, Adam. 2010. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge
- United Nations General Assembly. “Article 2, of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” International Humanitarian Law Databases. https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/ihl-treaties/genocide-conv-1948/article-2?activeTab=undefined.
- AJLabs. 2023. “Israel-Gaza War in Maps and Charts: Live Tracker.” Israel-Palestine Conflict News | Al Jazeera, October 25, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker.
- Saber, Indlieb Farazi. 2023. “How the Israel War, Blockade Affect Mental Health of Palestinian Children.” Israel-Palestine Conflict News | Al Jazeera, October 13, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/12/how-the-israel-war-blockade-affects-mental-health-of-palestinian-children
- Kersten, Mark. 2023. “What Gaza infrastructure has been damaged since Israel declared war?” Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/13/what-infrastructure-in-gaza-has-been-damaged-since-israels-assaut.
- “Genocide Watch- Ten Stages of Genocide.” n.d. Genocidewatch. https://www.genocidewatch.com/tenstages.
- Copp, Tara, and Lolita C. Baldor. 2023. “More US Ships Head toward Israel and 2,000 Troops Are on Heightened Alert. A Look at US Assistance | AP News.” AP News, October 18, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/united-states-israel-military-aid-2211b0c7bc27e13175d179a53fde3ac5.
- Smith, By Holly Honderich & Sarah. 2023. “Biden Seeks ‘vital’ War Aid for Israel and Ukraine.” BBC News, October 20, 2023. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-67164900.
- Ursula von der Leyen, (@vonderleyen), “Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially electricity, are war crimes. Cutting off men, women, children of water, electricity and heating with winter coming”, Twitter (Oct 19, 2022), https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1582630271287021570
- Ursula von der Leyen, (@vonderleyen), “We are friends of Israel. When friends are under attack, we stand by them. Israel has the right and duty to respond to Hamas’ act of war. We call for the immediate release of all hostages.”, Twitter (Oct 13, 2023), https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1712873852831760424
- Piers Morgan Uncensored, “Israel-Hamas War: Piers Morgan vs Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot Over Gaza Hospital Strike,” YouTube, October 19, 2023, 3:32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvDAra1VFnE
- Anadolu Agency. 2023. “European Countries Restrict Pro-Palestine Rallies.” Daily Sabah. October 12, 2023. https://www.dailysabah.com/world/europe/european-countries-restrict-pro-palestine-rallies
- Charlton, Angela, and Jeffrey Schaeffer. 2023. “France Has Banned Pro-Palestinian Protests and Vowed to Protect Jews from Resurgent Antisemitism | AP News.” AP News, October 12, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/france-israel-palestinians-war-protests-banned-5626bafec480b32226dcb97d0c92a553.
Muhammad Shahed Hasan
Muhammad Shahed Hasan completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in Criminology from the University of Dhaka. His interests include violent crime, literature, and philosophy.