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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Don’t forget about Palestine

Although discourse in America has died down about Gaza, the conflict has not. The New York Times reports that daily deaths have fallen from an average of 350 in November to a “mere” 200 in January; officials estimate that 70 percent of these deaths are civilians [1]. According to Al-Jazeera, over 26,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israeli forces, and a heartbreaking 62,000 more are injured [2]. Less than half of the 35 hospitals in Gaza are functioning at all, and none are fully functional; ABC reported that the largest of these hospitals, Nasser Hospital, is operating at 300 percent capacity, and just five or six doctors are available to see the hundreds of patients that need care every day. Some women are forced to give birth in tents—there simply isn’t enough space in the hospital for everyone—while bombs rain down outside [3].  

Thankfully, the international community is finally coming to Gaza’s aid. Recently, South Africa filed a case against Israel in the International Court of Justice calling for an order for Israel to cease all military operations in Gaza. According to the BBC, rulings by the ICJ aren’t enforceable—for instance, the ICJ similarly ruled that Russia needed to suspend its military operations against Ukraine, but Russia simply ignored the demand. On the other hand, the ICJ’s opinions “carry weight with the UN and other international institutions,” and theoretically could convince those institutions to act [4].  

Statements that Israeli officials have made about Palestine are being used against Israel to prove genocidal intent, defined by the New York Times as “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group [5].” Earlier this month, Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, went on LBC to say that “every school, every mosque, every second house has access to [Hamas] tunnels.” The host replied, “But that’s an argument for destroying the whole of Gaza, every single building in it,” to which the ambassador replied, “Do you have another solution?” [5] 

Just last Friday, Jan. 26, the ICJ made a preliminary ruling that, according to the BBC, “Israel must take all measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza” [6]. Unfortunately, the ICJ did not rule that Israel has to abide by a ceasefire—rather, the court concluded that South Africa had a plausible case for genocide, although the full trial won’t conclude for several years, and issued six interim measures against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel has decried the ruling, saying Israel will “continue this war until absolute victory [6].”  

Yemen, too, has come to Gaza’s aid, attacking ships passing through the Red Sea to prevent transport of goods to Israel, according to the BBC [7]. In response, the Biden administration re-designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization, despite them controlling a significant portion of Yemen and, according to the Brookings Institute, a “preponderance of force” in Yemen [8]. American wars in the Middle East caused devastation across Yemen, further worsened now by sanctions placed by the U.S. and UK in retaliation for the strikes. Worse still, the U.S. is conducting targeted air strikes on Yemen, with the full knowledge that these strikes are ineffective at wresting control from the Houthis. President Biden, when asked if the attacks against the Houthis were working, said, “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes [7].”  

Every time I sit down to write about Gaza, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of suffering Israel has inflicted on Palestinians—suffering that the United States and the Biden administration funds and supports. How can you look at these pictures—pictures of orphaned children undergoing surgery without anesthesia, pictures of reporters and ambulance workers first on the scene to discover their dead loved ones, pictures of entire neighborhoods levelled, and their inhabitants massacred under the rubble—and say that this conflict is justified? How is this self-defense? How can you sit and scold me for calling it genocide when thousands of men, women and children have had their homes, families, hospitals, churches and lives destroyed in the name of revenge? 

Even if Israel stopped its entire military endeavor this second, pulled all its troops from Gaza and allowed medical aid and reporters into the area, it wouldn’t undo any of the catastrophic harm Israel has already caused. Besides the injured and dead, 85 percent of Palestinians are displaced, according to Al-Jazeera [2]. It’s going to take time for the people of Gaza to get back on their feet and rebuild their country. Even still, it will only return Palestine to its apartheid status quo. Until Israel is punished by the international community and Palestinians are allowed to flourish without colonial oppression, Palestine can never be free.  



[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/22/briefing/israel-gaza-war-death-toll.html  

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker  

[3] https://abcnews.go.com/International/situation-catastrophic-gaza-largest-functioning-hospital-300-percent-capacity/story?id=106476140  

[4] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-67922346  

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/12/opinion/israel-icj-genocide-south-africa.html  

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-68097640?pinned_post_locator=urn:asset:c2ecc669-5baa-4fb0-8440-91193624925d&pinned_post_asset_id=65b3aee08fbef750a9350b30&pinned_post_type=share  

[7] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-68025279 

[8] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/who-are-the-houthis-and-why-are-we-at-war-with-them/  

About the Contributor
Elijah Horwath, Opinions Editor