More than 3000 Palestinian children have been killed by brutal Israeli bombing of the Gaza strip since October 7, with more than 8000 people killed according to the health ministry in Gaza among them at least 825 families wiped out completely and struck from the civil registry. Here are some of their names. According to Save the Children, “the number of children killed in Gaza in three weeks has surpassed the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019”.
Almost half of the housing units in the Gaza strip have been either completely destroyed or damaged. Hospitals are out of electricity, water, and medicine due to an illegal siege according to international law. Tens of thousands of wounded and thousands more are still stuck under the rubble dying slowly because no one can reach them. At least 1,5 million people have been forcibly displaced in the 365km2 strip which is home to 2.2 million who are all being starved to death by the same illegal blockade. World governments keep pledging humanitarian help that never arrives because no one dares force open the door.
At least 24 journalists have been killed by Israeli fire, so were the families of two journalists when raids targeted houses they were sheltering in, in areas the Israeli army asked people to shelter in. Proof that Israel and the US have lied about the Al Ahli hospital evidence presented to the public have circulated but no one seems to care anymore about this massacre that killed around 500 Palestinian civilians. The fact that many other hospitals have been and keep being threatened and bombed is overlooked. Unsubstantiated rumors that Hamas is operating from below Gaza’s largest hospital do the rounds in Western media in a terrifying preemptive justification for another possible massacre. More than 29 UN workers have been killed by the Israeli army in addition to more than 100 medical staff. In fact Israel declared that it will ‘teach the UN a lesson’ and rejected visas to the UN delegation with some voices going as far as accusing the international agency of supporting terrorism.
Hospitals, schools, and UN buildings hosting displaced families looking for shelter in areas the Israeli army told people to go to have been targeted dozens of times, killing countless families.
Meanwhile, more than 110 people have been killed in the West Bank, and thousands have been arrested and reportedly subjected to abuse in prison camps. All these numbers rise by the minute and are facts.
In fact, Israeli politicians distributed weapons to Israeli settlers in the West Bank and encouraged them to use them against unarmed Palestinians. Senior Israeli officials have repeatedly called Palestinians ‘inhuman animals’, or ‘human animals’ and explicitly and proudly voiced their intentions to kill and destroy civilian targets, using glaring genocidal language that seems to outrage everyone in the world except democracies of the Global North.
These are but some of the facts we know about what happened since October 7 in Gaza and the West Bank, two territories recognized by the United Nations as being under Israeli occupation. This list does not include the countless abuses, war crimes, and illegal practices that happened before nor does it include the casualties on the Israeli side.
Yet in the democratic Global North, we are not even allowed to mourn, to express sadness, anger, or outrage. We are not allowed to speak about history or tell our story. Calls for a ceasefire or peace have become criminalized while warmongering is masqueraded as a moral imperative. Any attempt to say that Palestinians are human too can be punished by states or institutions. Those same states and institutions that have paraded human rights and democracy to the world, who spend billions every year on grants to teach us about equality, peace, freedom and rights – values many of us have spent lifetimes struggling for and know all too well what they mean – remain silent about this repression out of cowardice, apathy or complicity.
Racism and Islamophobia have become not only normalized but welcomed and Europe’s antisemitism problem – exemplified also in the silencing of Jewish voices calling for peace, and the quick rise of far right parties – is conveniently projected on migrants while ignoring growing white supremacist neo-nazi movements who regularly attack both Jews and migrants.
But all this will mean nothing for those whose first reaction will be “but what about…”, because if they have not felt empathy yet, it is because for them Palestinians (like other Arabs, brown and black people) are not humans deserving of the human rights that we hear so much about. They do not have feelings, lives, ambitions, and loved ones. Their deaths are normalized and their suffering erased. The Global North has gotten used to the sight of violence on brown bodies, it does not shock, it does not horrify, it does not outrage. It is a topic that is often left for dinner conversations, an intellectual exercise or something to use for an art piece or a career in white saviorism.
All the information is out there if one wants to listen, care and see beyond the colonial, racist lens that has justified countless mass murders, wars and colonial projects for some hundreds of years now. The information is out there despite the systematic silencing, censorship and disinformation by major news outlets, social media giants, and Global North governments and institutions who are usually so patronizing at explaining the importance of freedom of expression to the Global South. This is not new, it is just more blatant because in another part of the world the Global North seems to recognize mass murder and war crimes and seems to have empathy towards its victims. One look at the rest of the world is enough to see a divide between the formerly colonized and the former colonizers.
If you are White and not outraged, you should think twice next time you want to speak about human rights, democracy and freedom to those who are not awarded access to the human family. Those who were called ‘human animals’ while you stood silent. Think about your history and your present. Look at the wealth around you and wonder why the resources are elsewhere but the money is here.
If you are not outraged, look in the mirror and ask yourself why that is. Why is it that you choose to justify or even accept violence against these people but not against others? Why are you quick to believe and justify one side but turn skeptical and defensive when you hear the other? Ask yourself why you are not outraged by brown children being bombed? Why is it easier for you to identify and empathize with fictional characters in post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies or even blue aliens in a fantasy movie, than it is to identify with your brown neighbors? And why are you so quick to see and believe that those brown people are but mindless barbarian hordes who for no reason whatsoever hate and threaten your safety when you have all the power and a long history of using your power against them?