By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
As Israel intensifies its brutal response to Hamas’ brutal October 7th attack, it is important to hear from those at the target end of the weapons – from both sides of the conflict. The mainstream media in the United States consistently brings us the voices of Israelis who have suffered violence at the hands of Hamas gunmen. Let that be a model for
coverage of Palestinian grief. We rarely hear from Palestinian civilians. Hearing people speak for themselves is the first step to breaking down barriers, to fostering understanding that can lead to a just peace.
Not long after the Hamas attack, Israel began its latest intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Bearing the full force of that retaliation are the 2.4 million Palestinians who Israel has blockaded in Gaza, almost half of whom are children. The Gaza Strip, roughly four miles wide and 25 miles long, is one of the most densely populated places on earth and has long been described as the world’s largest open-air prison. Under “normal” conditions, Gazans live under a severe military occupation. No one gets in or out without Israel’s permission. Israel controls Gaza’s water, food and fuel. Now, in the wake of the Hamas attack, the Israeli siege and bombardment of Gaza has become cataclysmic.
“We are imposing a complete siege in Gaza. There will be no food, no water, no fuel; everything will be closed. We are fighting against human animals,” Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced.
As of the time of this writing, 1,300 Israelis been confirmed killed and thousands injured, with an estimated 150 people kidnapped. More than 1,350 Palestinians have been killed and 6,000 wounded as Israel devastates Gaza in an act of collective punishment that is illegal under international law.
“There is no single place you can call a safe haven in Gaza, airplane fighters, drones ruling all over the sky…whether it’s an apartment, whether it’s a tower with hundreds of apartments, whether it’s a house, whether it’s a hospital, whether it’s a school, a shelter used by UNRWA [the UN’s Palestinian relief agency],” Raji Sourani, director of the
Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. As he spoke, his house shook from an explosion. “Netanyahu says Gazans should leave Gaza. Where to? We don’t have safe passage. …it’s genocidal.”
Ofer Cassif, an Israeli Jewish member of the Knesset, or parliament, said on Democracy Now!:
“I got a WhatsApp message from a very good friend of mine who was hiding with her husband in the kibbutz. She told me she was very afraid and she could hear the Hamas fighters outside. Unfortunately, those were probably the last words she ever wrote, because she was murdered with her husband just after she sent me that message — a very good friend of mine who was also against the occupation, a voter with our party. Innocent people, innocent civilians on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, pay the price of the arrogant, criminal, ongoing occupation that Israel refuses to end.”
U.S. news networks have dispatched correspondents to Israel to cover the violence, but there are few Palestinians being interviewed, or Israeli peace activists or reporters who oppose the occupation. Reports that Hamas beheaded babies are widely circulated on major news channels, by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by President Biden. When questioned, the White House walked back the claim, saying they “could not confirm” the reports.
The actual violence is horrible enough: 260 young people were massacred at a music festival dedicated to “unity and love.” A kibbutz described by one resident as home to Israeli “peaceniks” was destroyed, with over 100 killed and many kidnapped by Hamas. In Gaza, entire families, entire neighborhoods, are being erased by Israeli bombs. Hospitals and ambulances are being attacked. At least six journalists have been killed in Gaza attempting to report on the Israeli assault that is only expected to worsen.
“The idea that you can coop up 5 million people, put them behind walls, tighten the siege on them, use an eyedropper to allow them some food, some water, some electricity, that idea has exploded as a result of the horrific events…This cannot continue,” Rashid Khalidi, renowned Palestinian American scholar and the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, said on Democracy Now!
“The United States should be trying to defuse the situation…We finance this occupation. We finance this violence. There are American weapons that are being used today, right now, in Gaza to kill innocent civilians in violation of U.S. law.”
The United States has the power to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. First the media must allow the American public to hear the voices of victims from all sides of this conflict.