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EDITORIAL: The horrific events in Gaza continue to shake global conscience with the Gazan health ministry announcing that Israel’s brutal war has now killed one percent of the Strip’s pre-war population, with more than 20,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, having perished in the hostilities that started on October 7.

The scale of destruction in the Strip has reached unimaginable proportions with Israel’s scorched earth approach resulting in the indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, journalists, hospitals, schools, places of worship, infrastructure and even staff of aid agencies.

Just a quick overview of the bald statistics emanating from the war in the Middle East makes for chilling reading. The number of those killed by Israeli forces in Gaza is nearing the 21,000 mark; around 8,000 children and 6,200 women were among them. In addition, according to the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, up to 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced across the Gaza Strip, some of them multiple times.

Moreover, more than 60 percent of Gaza’s housing stock has been destroyed, with the UN reporting that over 46,000 homes have been demolished across the Strip. In fact, according to a report by the Turkish broadcaster TRT World, the Israeli invasion of Gaza is now among the most devastating in history, with more damage inflicted on the enclave in the 11-week war than in Ukraine’s Mariupol or during the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II.

The report, citing experts from American academia, states that Israel’s war has destroyed over two-thirds of all structures in northern Gaza and a quarter of buildings in the southern area of Khan Younis, with the enclave now presenting “a different colour from space”.

Most devastatingly, more civilians have been killed since October 7 than in the US-led three-year conflict against ISIS in Aleppo. Furthermore, more than half a million people in Gaza are starving, with World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom stating that “the search for food is forcing people into horrible states of hunger”.

Despite this heart-rending state of affairs, Western powers — specifically the US — have remained steadfast in their support of Israel’s brutalities, something they have resolutely done over the last 75 years. The latest example of this could be seen at the UN Security Council on December 22 when yet another attempt at passing a resolution calling for a cessation in hostilities was scuppered by the US.

Instead what we got was a timid, watered-down version of an earlier draft resolution that had called for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” in the Middle East. All the world body could muster in its place was a call for the immediate speeding of aid deliveries to civilians in Gaza. Attempts at passing a meaningful resolution had been marred by US objections, with Israel’s most vociferous backer continuing to show stubborn support for a cruel and merciless aggressor.

The war in Gaza has provided us with an abject lesson in Western hypocrisy and double standards, which will not be forgotten any time soon. One cannot help but agree with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who has termed the conflict in Gaza “a moral failure” of the international community. While it is hopeless to expect Israel to pay heed to such exhortations given that nothing has stopped it from brutalising the Palestinian people for nearly 75 years now, one wonders what will it take for the US and other Western powers to change course.

At the same time, the exemplary bravery and courage of the Palestinian people during this unprecedented bloodshed has sent out a strong message to the world. In this moment of horror, what they need is for global powers to shed their ingrained timidity and duplicity when it comes to Israel and start taking steps that will put a stop to its madness.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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