Against Gaza genocide
We must remember our duties to occupied people everywhere who are bound by not just fidelity but consistency
Updated Monday Oct 16 2023
There is no other word for the violence that Israel is raining down on Gaza except genocide. Today, in real-time, we are watching Israel starve a criminally besieged population in Gaza, denying them water — one of the most basic and fundamental rights without which no living being can survive — food, fuel, and movement. Gaza has been described as the largest open-air prison in the world, but it is increasingly more accurate to call it a concentration camp.
Doctors in Gaza are too afraid to bury their dead according to Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, a surgeon with Doctors Without Borders. In seven days, Israel has murdered over 1,000 children in cold blood, ordered a civilian population to move from the Northern part of the Gaza enclave, a virtual concentration camp that is under naval, air, and land blockades, towards the South, and then bombed them as they evacuated.
Despite ordering more than one million Gazans to evacuate to the south, Israel ordered the Kuwaiti Specialist Hospital in Rafah, in the supposed safe zone, to empty their beds of all their patients and evacuate as well.
"The hospital is full of patients and fuel. We are not leaving and will die in the hospital. We have been given two hours to evacuate. Tell all," Dr Suhaib Alhamss, one of the hospital’s surgeons, said in a voice note on Sunday morning. Dr Suhaib’s home was bombed and destroyed a few hours after he sent his plea for help.
According to the UN Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza have no access to health services. Beyond this, 5,522 pregnant women are expected to give birth this month. Imagine bringing life into the nightmare that Israel has wrought: thundering bombardment the first sound that the delicate ears of a newborn baby will ever hear, provided it survives the ordeal of its first few hours on earth.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health estimated on Sunday that Israeli terror strikes kill one Palestinian every five minutes. On the first day of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, the health ministry announced that 45 families — all the living generations of 45 separate families — had been killed and wiped from the Gaza Civil Registry. Genocide. There is no other word.
Unicef has issued a strong statement stating that there are ‘no safe spaces’ in Gaza. And soon, this terror will spread beyond the besieged and battered Gaza Strip. Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s ultra-right, racist National Security minister, announced the purchase of 10,000 rifles which are to be distributed to settlers around the country. Four thousand weapons were already handed out by Ben Gvir’s ministry but those were deemed insufficient for whatever it is that Israel has planned. This weekend, there was a chilling silence from Gaza as Israel blocked its electricity and internet, effectively giving themselves the cover of darkness to commit their crimes against the Palestinian people.
It hardly comes as a surprise that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has cheered Israel’s psychopathic massacre in Gaza from day one. Modi’s India is the number one client of Israeli weapons, and though the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which Modi is a devoted lifelong member of is ideologically inspired by and seeks to emulate Nazi racism and fascism, there is no doubt that a common hatred of Muslims and shared anti-democratic, authoritarian tendencies have brought the Indian Prime Minister closer to Israel than any previous other Indian leader.
I do not say with any glee but only sadness, for our Indian brothers and sisters who continue to believe in the politics of the global south, and decolonisation, and who are themselves embattled as they fight this sinister fascism at home.
What I do find surprising, however, is Pakistan’s uncharacteristically limp and underwhelming response to Israeli slaughter in Gaza. In September, the Foreign Minister of Israel, Eli Cohen, announced after the UN General Assembly gathering in New York that ‘six or seven’ Muslim countries were ready to normalise relations with Israel on the back of its recognition by Saudi Arabia. Cohen did not say that Pakistan was one of those countries but recent bizarre mentions of Israel by our interim Prime Minister led many to suspect Pakistan was one of those countries.
The sudden mentions of a ‘two-state solution’, dead in the water internationally and more importantly rejected by Palestinians, made by several Pakistani politicians in the wake of Israel’s slaughter this month added more fuel to the fire. Pakistan doesn’t believe in a two-state solution, nor should it. The only viable solution is one state with the right of return for all Palestinians and the immediate end to Israel’s brutal apartheid and occupation.
In our complicated country, we can be certain of very few things. We are currently in the grips of a dire economic crisis, have never weathered more than a few weeks of political calm, and are caught in the crosshairs of myriad geopolitical fault lines. But we can be certain and proud that Pakistan’s historic stance has always been steadfastly against the practice of apartheid — our passports refuse our citizens to travel to Israel today but until the 1990s there were two countries we could not travel to: South Africa and Israel, on the grounds that both were apartheid states. Israel’s apartheid is a more ferocious beast today than the one practiced by whites in South Africa and there is no question that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in full view of the world.
I know that I am not alone amongst Pakistanis of my generation who struggle with our beautiful and fractured country. There is no doubt that as Pakistanis we have been blessed with a patrimony of riches — historical, architectural, cultural, environmental — and simultaneously betrayed by decades of violence, corruption, and political suppression.
I love my country and that is why I have often wept for it, wounded by its politics and failures of justice. But when it comes to the issue of the dispossessed Palestinian people, Pakistan has always stood on the side of the occupied, never the occupier. And this has always given me great pride. Looking at Pakistanis online, expressing courageous solidarity with an embattled people, I feel that same pride.
I was a child watching the news on television with my father, Mir Murtaza, in exile in Syria when I first saw young Palestinian boys pelting the hardened shells of Israeli tanks with the only weapons the weak have — rocks. Pray for them, my father told me, when you pray for your return to Pakistan before you go to sleep at night, pray for the Palestinian people too. Pray that they can return to their homes too.
The unfolding genocide in Gaza must not happen in our name. Pakistan must lodge the strongest diplomatic protests. Pakistan must stand on the right side of history and oppose this slaughter with all its might and for all our problems, we are a mighty country. And as we do so, we must remember our duties to occupied people everywhere who are bound by not just fidelity but consistency. Yesterday, Pakistan stood by the Palestinians in their struggle for justice. We must do the same today and tomorrow.
Fatima Bhutto is a writer. She has authored several books and frequently writes on politics, culture, human rights, and climate change. She tweets @fbhutto
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this piece are the writer's own and don't necessarily reflect Geo.tv's editorial policy.