In the prison that is Gaza, nowhere is safe.
Hospitals, churches, mosques, and schools, areas assumed as safe havens for Gaza’s 2.2 million residents, have become military targets. Doctors are begging for medical supplies to treat the injured, fathers are finding their children in pieces under the rubble, and ice cream trucks have become mortuaries. The people of Gaza are calling on the world to bear witness to their suffering. Their attempts are falling on deaf ears.
Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 8,000 Palestinians since October 7, with the number of casualties and injuries expecting to rise. The onslaught has targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, resulting in the eradication of entire residential neighborhoods. By targeting homes across multiple cities and refugee camps, multi-generational Palestinian families are being slaughtered together, leaving no one to mourn the dead. 47 Palestinian families have been erased from Gaza’s civil registry, says The Wafa News Agency. According to Al Jazeera, over 40 percent of the victims are women and children.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are not masking their goal: a genocide of the Palestinian people. On Oct. 9, the Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on Gaza, halting the supply of water, food, fuel, and electricity into Gaza and stating that Israel is fighting “human animals,” CNN reports. This act of collective punishment towards the civilians of Gaza is a violation of international humanitarian law, according to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. With no ceasefire in sight, the people of Gaza face two equally disastrous choices: die a quick death by Israeli airstrikes, or suffer a slow death from infection, starvation, or disease. The lack of basic supplies is exasperating the already dire humanitarian crisis created by the land, sea, and air blockade of Gaza implemented by Israel in 2007, leaving the densely populated strip of land an open-air prison. This is only a drop in the ocean of the never-ending list of atrocities committed against the Palestinian people during Israel’s 75-year occupation of Palestine.
Constant bombardment at the hands of the Israeli military is not novel to the people of the Gaza Strip. During various operations in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021, Israeli airstrikes and ground invasions killed hundreds of civilians and reduced buildings to rubble. Life for Gazans has turned into an endless cycle of loss, rebuilding, and watching as their lives once again turn to dust. The mental toll of the escalation of violence against Palestinians is evident. Children, who make up 50 percent of the population of Gaza, bear the brunt of violence. Approximately 70 percent of the children seen as “collateral damage” by the Israeli government suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Doctors Without Borders. Over 100 newborns housed in neonatal intensive care units on ventilators or in incubators face severe risks of dying due to the lack of electricity in hospitals, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports. UNICEF calls the humanitarian crisis in Gaza “a growing stain on our collective conscience.”
Western media’s concerning lack of coverage of the Palestinian narrative perpetuates the depiction of Arabs as terrorists deserving of violence. Western media has allowed Palestinian victims to remain nameless and faceless, dehumanizing them, justifying their ethnic cleansing, and causing indifference from the public sphere. On Western news channels, Israel is always the victim and never the perpetrator. Israeli lives and deaths matter, but Palestinian lives and deaths do not. Israel makes no effort to hide its beliefs on Palestinians. In a now-deleted post on X, formally known as Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described between the current siege as a “struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.” Not only must Palestinians endure the anguish of losing their people and homeland, they also are forced to watch the world justify the horrific acts committed against them using tactical language and false symmetry.
The people of Gaza are not only numbers or statistics, nor are they animals. Gazans are people deserving of a life full of freedom and prosperity, a life without a military blockade or Israeli occupation. They are people with hopes and dreams dwindling by the day, as bombs rain down on them and the smell of death fills the air. Unlike what Israeli Knesset member Merav Ben-Ari claims, the youth of Gaza are victims of a violent regime, not children who “brought it upon themselves,” as Human Rights Watch reports.
Gaza and its people are being killed. The only immediate solution is to stop the indiscriminate murder of civilians. In order to escape this cycle of death and destruction, the underlying injustice that drives hate and violence must not only be considered but rectified entirely. There can be no peace without justice, and justice to the Palestinian cause means to live free of Israeli occupation and control.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons