Sat 22-June-2024

Nuseirat massacre: Dehumanizing Palestinians is the first step towards their extermination

Tuesday 11-June-2024

On the morning of Saturday, 8 June, the racist Zionist colonial army carried out horrific massacres in the central governorate, killing at least 274 Palestinian civilians, including women, children and men.

Hours later, they announced that these massacres were a cover to free four Israeli captives in the Nuseirat camp.

At the time of the massacre, I was visiting the central governorate and heard Israeli bombing everywhere. F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, artillery and warships were all involved in the random bombing of civilian gatherings. People fled in all directions, not knowing where to go, as there is no safe place in Gaza.

Many of those in the central governorate at that moment had recently fled Rafah after the occupation army dropped leaflets urging residents to evacuate.

As for northern Gaza, none of the displaced were permitted to return. Since the beginning of the war, the occupation army had separated it from the central region, with tanks in the Netzarim corridor – which cuts across Gaza – ready to kill anyone attempting to return.

The most significant observation about this massacre is that there was no operational necessity for it. The occupation army could have freed the captives with far fewer Palestinian casualties, with the basic principle that killing even one civilian is a crime that demands accountability.

Mass civilian casualties
That the Israeli military deliberately caused mass civilian casualties is reinforced by the fact that the relentless Israeli bombing targeted a wide area and locations far from the site of the operation.

Israel sees the killing of every additional Palestinian as a gain since its project is fundamentally based on the idea of ethnic cleansing

For example, massacres were committed in Deir al-Balah, about 10km away, while the operation took place in the Nuseirat camp. This excessive killing of civilians without any “operational need” has only one explanation: the colonial Zionist state seizes any opportunity to shed the blood of as many Palestinians as possible.

It sees the killing of every additional Palestinian as a gain since its project is fundamentally based on the idea of ethnic cleansing. It wants to instill in the Palestinian consciousness that the cost of any attempt to rebel against the colonial project will be high.

Israel is not alone in devaluing Palestinian lives. The friendly governments of this colonial state, primarily the US administration, adopt rhetoric that legitimizes the genocidal crimes committed by this colonial state.

Since the beginning of this genocidal war, western officials have called for the release of Israeli hostages, implying that the only problem in Gaza is the hostages’ detention.

Meanwhile, as calls continue for the release of about 120 Israeli captives from Gaza, Israel has killed nearly 40,000 Palestinians in eight months, the overwhelming majority of whom are civilians, including around 15,000 Palestinian children.

Does the part of the world supporting the Zionist colonial regime truly believe in the value of human equality? Do they think that the lives of 40,000 Palestinians equal the lives of 120 Israeli hostages?

Reality disproves this, showing that supporters of the racist colonial project believe in a hierarchy of human value, where the colonial state’s citizens are considered more valuable and deserving of life than Palestinians.

An ‘ugly heritage’
At the start of this war, the racist colonial state’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant described Palestinians as “human animals”.

This description was not a momentary loss of temper but the most honest expression of the Zionist view of the Palestinian people. All of Israel’s genocidal policies before and after 7 October confirm that they do not see Palestinians as humans deserving of life but as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

History helps us understand the present. This Zionist view that mentally strips Palestinians of their humanity as a prelude to their physical extermination is a continuation of the colonial view of subjugated peoples.

We know from the history of western colonialism how European invaders exterminated tens of millions of Native Americans and killed tens of millions more Africans when they brought them through long journeys of torture and humiliation across the ocean.

Those who survived were enslaved. We also know how colonial powers exterminated tens of millions in Africa and Asia and looted their wealth during the colonial era.

Israel is a reminder of this ugly heritage of the western colonial project. No state or politician can claim to believe in human values while supporting this genocidal colonial state at the same time.

Belief in the principles of equality, justice and dignity for all humans necessarily requires opposing this ugly colonial system and fighting for a world that believes in the right to life and dignity for every human being, regardless of race, religion or color.

-Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian journalist and peace activist. Born in Rafah, in 1984, Abu Artema is a refugee from Al Ramla village. He authored the book “Organized Chaos”. His article appeared in the Middle East Eye.

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