As 2023 comes to a close, grim numbers in Gaza are piling up, where Israel’s bombardment and invasion have thus far killed more than 20,000 people, including 8,200 children and 6,200 women. Those dire statistics lay alongside the grievous outcome of Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, in which 1,139 people were killed—including 36 children—and nearly 250 Israelis were taken hostage by Hamas, again, including about 30 children.
But beyond the dismal casualty statistics, we’re ending the year on what may be a more lasting concern for the future of the region: Israel’s response has been characterized by many as war crimes, with its larger goals for the conflict tantamount to genocide, or at the very least, a plan to displace the entire population in an act of ethnic cleansing. Experts in the field have decried these tactics, and others, as crimes against humanity.
Israeli officials, in their own words, seem to tacitly acknowledge that their critics’ worst fears are far from unfounded. In early November, Israeli security cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter said “We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba,” referring to the war against Palestinians and seizure of territory that marked Israel’s founding in 1948.
Observers have been quick to confirm that reality is matching the rhetoric. “That’s what we’re seeing right now: the displacement of Palestinians, pushing millions to increasingly shrinking areas, because the idea is that there will be no more Palestinians in Gaza after this war,” said Raz Segal, associate professor of holocaust and genocide studies and endowed professor in the study of modern genocide at Stockton University.
The man who bears the most responsibility for these war crimes is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It’s really rare for war criminals to just openly announce their actions,” said John Cox, professor of global studies and history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who also directs the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies. That’s what’s “unique about Israel’s bombing in Gaza.” [Continue reading…]