Voices in the Wilderness as Gaza Genocide Unfolds

Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey
14 February 2024
As we bear witness to the suffering and killing of children and women in Gaza, we also bear witness to world leaders who are unwilling to use their power to stop the killing and suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza.

Leaders continue to  “demand,” “caution,” “push very hard,” “warn,” call for a humanitarian ceasefire, and be “alarmed,” but Israel’s offensive has continued intensely.

Nobody can dispute Israel’s right to respond to the October 7 inhumane and reprehensible atrocities of massacring, torturing and murdering at least 1,200 Israeli civilians, and taking 240 hostage, including children, people with disabilities, and older people.

But Netenyahu’s justification of self defense has enacted a license to use unproportional force to indiscriminately kill; destroy homes, infrastructure, including hospitals and schools; forcibly displace 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza; harm those who remain; restrict access of Gaza’s 2.2 million population to essential food, water, medicine, fuel, electricity, and critical aid.

With international rules of war criminalising violations and persecutions against humanity and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide providing “a precise definition of the crime of genocide, in particular in terms of the required intent and the prohibited acts (Article II),” what will it take to put a stop to what the world is clearly bearing witness to, as outlawed by these instruments?

French President Emmanuel Macron has said, “We cannot let the idea take root that an efficient fight against terrorism implies to flatten Gaza or attack civilian populations indiscriminately.”

Strong words, but still just words. The bare minimum to provide humanitarian aid continues to be negotiated between Hamas and Israel when this should be a non-negotiable to protect civilian life.
Leaders and citizens, alike, the United Nations and other institutions have increasingly become unconditional voices of strong concern, but we all remain in the wilderness of noise, with no meaningful impact for a sustained ceasefire.
In the looming void of ethical and moral reasoning, protecting innocent children seems to be sidelined in global leadership arenas influenced by vested interests, shallow talk, double talk, little talk, and no talk, while the death toll and destruction have escalated in the 100 days since the war began as Gaza’s 2.3million people, roughly half being children, are trapped in less than 400 square kilometres. Nowhere is safe to go.
Reportedly, at least 28,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children (11,500 children).
“One of every 10 children killed in Gaza did not make their first birthday. More than 1,000 children have lost one or both legs. Save the Children estimates that more than 10 children a day are losing one or both legs. Those having limbs amputated are having it done without anaesthetic…According to UNICEF, there are now at least 19,000 orphans in Gaza and thousands who have lost one parent.” “About 1.1 million children are unable to access humanitarian aid.”
UNICEF states that “the number of children killed in this conflict alone has now exceeded the total number of children killed globally in all conflicts in 2022.”  Undoubtedly,  this is the deadliest conflict for children in modern times, in our time.

As Israeli strikes hit Rafah, where  roughly 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering after fleeing fighting in other areas of the territory, including over 600,000 children, Israel is in breach of the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICJ) orders to take immediate steps to protect Palestinians’ rights and cease all activities that could constitute genocide.
But can we rely on the ICJ and world leaders to stop the genocide unfolding in Gaza?
Or will Netanyahu be asked to wage war more carefully, develop a more ‘credible’ plan?
Will leaders divert their focus to arrangements for post war Gaza instead of  addressing the immediate needs of innocent civilians relentlessly facing peril and starvation, and yet again, forced displacement from Israeli ordered places of refuge?
Or will leaders reiterate with more vigour their concerns, demands, pleas, or even support a continuation of Israel’s rejection of the ruling by the International Court of Justice, or enable Israel to continue the collective punishment of Palestinians for Hamas’ crimes?

As the dignity and protection of innocent human life diminishes in Gaza before our eyes, as citizens we may feel helpless to change this, but leaders who continue to merely talk and walk past this inhumanity make us all complicit in the genocide unfolding in Gaza.
It sets a dangerous precedent for other conflicts as Netanyahu continues to achieve his goals at all costs, as he has reportedly said, “No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anyone else.”
As Netanyahu’s choice to stop in the face of international condemnation is nowhere in sight, globally, leaders must achieve a complete cessation to the war, safe delivery of aid, food, water, fuel, and electricity supplies, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, with safe passage to Israel. 
Leaders must take the mantle of leadership bestowed on them by citizens, to individually and collectively save innocent lives in Gaza, and restore faith in humanity.

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