Gaza: Erasure and Resistance

Talat Yaqoob reflects on the relentless assault on the people of Gaza, its erasure and the need for organisation for solidarity and resistance.

I have never known the words “it’s complicated” to be used as often as they have over the last two months. For some this has been their only contribution to this discourse; said by politicians, commentators, and influencers. The rapidly escalating situation in Gaza does not need you to take some controversial or complicated stance other than one that is for humanity and in support of a ceasefire. I don’t find it complicated to condemn the acts of Hamas, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that the origins of this is the occupation of Gaza as an “open air prison” by the Israeli state. I can hold both of these truths. 

Another truth, is just how much I have struggled with the silence from some quarters.

The conflict in the Middle-East has been made complicated because it has a maintained, long history in which different interpretations, various extremist actors, and selfish, geo-political manovering have been applied. In all of this, the biggest loss has been to the millions of Palestinians and Israelis, the majority of whom want to live safe lives, in a land they feel secure in. But the idea of a situation being too complicated to be able to support a ceasefire to prevent the killing of thousands of innocent Palestinians is callous nonsense, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence that illustrates the consequence of escalating violence and disproportionate response. Something can be perceived as complicated, but that does not justify complicity in it or paralysis in responding to it.

Take a look at where we are.

In the last two months, it is estimated that almost 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, with approximately 70% of them being women and children.  The majority of the Gaza population are displaced and as many as over one million face starvation. Data from an Israeli study, by Hareetz, has found that the civilian proportion of deaths is higher than the average in all world conflicts in second half of 20th century. The ratio exceeds that of the second World War. 

As of 17th December, the Committee to Protect Journalists has estimated that almost 90 journalists and media workers have been killed; 7 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 3 who were Lebanese. A further 19 journalists have been arrested. 

During this time, settler violence in the West Bank (a territory that is not under the authority of Hamas) is at an all-time high. Settlers, encouraged and enabled by Israeli Government Ministers, have been responsible for over 300 attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank in an attempt to expel them from their land, this includes the murder of 8 Palestinians and forcing over 1000 out of their homes. The violence has escalated to such an extent, that even the UK Government has managed to find its spine and condemn it.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, Action Aid, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee, Plan International and many, many more have called for an immediate ceasefire stating that Gaza in on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. 

Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peace groups from across a number of nations have called for an immediate ceasefire and the safety of all civilians. This includes Jewish Voices for Peace based in the US, who have staged takeovers of the Senate, including Jewish Mothers and Grandmothers chaining themselves to the fence of the White House. 

Multiple Israeli Government Ministers have made statements calling for harm to innocent civilians and in some cases used genocidal language. For example, Ariel Kallner, a member of the Israeli parliament for Netanyahu’s Likud party call for a repetition for the expulsion of Arabs in 1948, referred to as “the Nakba” (the catastrophe), he stated: “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948.”

When Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege of Gaza” and a shutdown of water, access to food and electricity, he stated “We are fighting against human animals”. 

Perhaps I feel too deeply, perhaps I am too close to this, but could someone kindly explain to me what of the above is “too complicated” and prevents the ability to support a ceasefire and the protection of civilian life? 

The above is only “too complicated” if you are in the business of weighing up which human life is worthy, rather than seeing all life; that of innocent Palestinian’s sheltering from airstrikes and Israeli hostages, as being equally worthy of protection. The only way to ensure that protection is through ceasefire.

We are witnessing the erasure of Gaza. 

The deafening silence from some on a humanitarian stance for a ceasefire was particularly painful after former Home Secretary Suella Braverman referred to protests calling for the UK Government to support a ceasefire “hate marches.” If at that point, with all of this evidence, the vivid, harrowing images of death and destruction from Gaza and the politicking of marches for peace and a cessation of violence, you are still silent but have a position of power and influence, then you are complicit. 

I have been to a number of these marches, the vast, vast majority of people present have been peaceful. I have been to my fair share of protests, rallies and marches, those calling for a ceasefire have been some of the most diverse and poignant. Palestinians and those with Palestinian heritage led calls for a ceasefire, joining them were many from the Muslim community. But many more, were from none of these groups. There were trade unionists, young professionals, climate justice campaigners, families with their young children on their shoulders, members of many faiths and none, and, many Jewish protestors proudly wearing religious symbols and holding placards calling for peace. These were not hate marches, and to call them that is only spreading misinformation and division, which has been a tactic of the current shade of the UK Government for some time. Braverman at the time, unironically, called for marches for armistice to be cancelled because they were happening on Armistice Day. These marches were not purposefully happening that day, they had been taking place every Saturday for five weeks at this point. She insinuated that the march was near the Cenotaph to create outrage, despite the planned march route being around a mile away from it. Yes, she’s been sacked since, but it certainly wasn’t because the Prime Minister had a sudden pang of conscience, indeed he joined in by calling the march “disrespectful.”

What does this manufacturing of outrage and division tell you? What stand are you willing to take against it? You do not need to be pro-Palestine to want, at the very least, some truthfulness and humanity from your government. 

Shortly after this manufactured furore, I had a coffee with a friend who is Jewish. We both had not seen each other in a while, so we did the usual catch up on our work and families, and then there was a prolonged silence. Without saying anything we knew we were both about to ask each other how we were feeling about the state of the world. Neither of us have family or a direct heritage linking us to Israel or Palestine as such; our cultures, our wider communities, and our religions connect us to these places and we have both been active in movements calling for peace. We both became teary because we knew our wider communities were being used as pawns in a heartless game. We’ve both done what we think we can, we have marched, we have donated, we have emailed representatives, we have shared accurate and verified information. We know it is not enough. We are along with so many others filled with anger, genuinely heartbroken at what we see unfolding, and aghast at the lack of intervention, accountability, anything, really, that is happening in response. 

And so, we sit, opposite each other, in our privileged safety, with our coffee in our hands, silently grieving for, and seething on behalf of, those we did not know but feel a deep affinity toward. We sit and we mourn the loss of any delusional ideals we held of international laws or some form of global accountability.  

The United Nations Secretary General has made unprecedented interventions, condemning the civilian casualties and the disproportionate response by the Israeli Government which, as he states, violates international law.

The UN General Assembly voted 153 to 10 with 23 abstentions last week to call for an “urgent cessation of hostilities”. The UK abstained. In 2023, the UN has condemned the Israeli states actions multiple times, but what of it? What consequences have followed? How have the lives of Gazan’s locked into an occupied space been protected?  

The UN General Assembly vote is explained as being “not legally binding on nations, [but] do carry immense moral weight”. Moral weight only has consequence if there remains a conscience in the Government being influenced. The purpose of such votes is also to apply pressure to states that are enabling the violence and vocalising support to isolate the nation committing atrocities, including those delaying similar resolutions in the UN Security Council. There is some suggestion that this pressure is changing the narrative from the Biden administration, meanwhile, thousands of lives are being lost, a culture is being destroyed, and millions being displaced. Time is not on Gaza’s side. 

Perhaps worse, is that despite the death toll climbing, the horrors increasing, the period of attention that any given issue is granted seems to be waning. It is no longer making breaking news, it is no longer the top read article, it is no longer one of the questions being asked when a member of the UK Government is in a press interview. The attention span of the populace feels like it is moving on. We cannot do that to the people of Gaza, we must keep talking about it, we must keep calling for action.

We must continue to march, continue to advocate, and apply pressure, continue to channel our anger into something, anything, meaningful for all of those in Palestine who have the right to live safe, healthy, free lives. We must continue this so more people move on from fear of the “complicated” into action with, and for, the desperate. 


Comments (32)

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  1. 231223 says:

    There should be a ceasefire. But there can’t be while Hamas remains operative. That’s the complication.

    The complication on the other side is that there can be no ceasefire until the Jews have been driven out of Palestine.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      Hamas have said that but Israel (designated a legitimate state by many in the west including the UK govt) are doing it.
      They killed the 1500 Hamas operatives who carried out the attack. Why was that not enough?

      1. 231223 says:

        Because there’s another 1500 operatives forming a queue for the next action.

        That’s the problem; it could never be enough.

        1. Tom Ultuous says:

          You think they should be allowed to wipe out the Palestinians to prevent that because that’s pretty much the only way to stop the next 1500 without a political solution.

          1. John says:

            Tom – it is becoming obvious to many that IDF are treating every adult male in Palestine as a potential Hamas fighter. The fact that they killed the 3 hostages in cold blood provides further evidence for this. Hamas was not supported by majority in Palestine before IDF military action. One thing is for sure the longer the IDF action persists the more support for Hamas will grow in Palestine and West Bank. If Israel wish to eradicate Hamas they will end up having to kill most adult males in Palestine and will kill a lot more woman’s children in process.
            The IDF actions have become an act of revenge not justice and the senseless killing is also self defeating.
            The only rationale for the continuing slaughter is to keep BN and his coalition in power. Any cursory examination of BN’s past record will show that he will not stop unless forced to do so. Why the USA continues to lose so much international goodwill supporting this extreme Israeli government baffles me and many others.

          2. 231223 says:

            Nope. I don’t think they should be allowed to wipe out the Jews either.

            Do you think a political solution is a realistic hope? Neither side seems to have much appetite for one. The cycle of violence seems pretty much intractable.

          3. John says:

            Israel have the most powerful military in region by some distance. Israel’s security is also guaranteed by USA the most powerful country in world. In other words no country can destroy Israel especially a terrorist organisation like Hamas.
            Israel has the military capability to utterly destroy Palestine as it is exhibiting at present.
            Hamas was not particularly popular in Palestine prior to Israel military response to 7th October atrocities. Hamas popularity is rising in Gaza and West Bank due to ferocity of Israeli & USA response which is exactly the response Hamas desired.
            Israeli anger at 7th October has emboldened the beleaguered BN government who have long rejected the two state solution as well as Hamas.
            There is no other solution than a two state solution which will require a change of government in Israel and a Palestinian government without Hamas influence. This requires both countries to respect the others right to exist, their borders and human rights.
            The process towards this has to start somewhere and cannot start until there is a ceasefire. Someone has to make first move and as Israel is not under an existential threat, due to situations I have outlined above, it is their interests to initiate ceasefire. In addition it is obvious that the longer the conflict in Gaza persists the more support for Hamas will increase making the longer term resolution more difficult.
            If the USA truly believes in a two state solution it should use its influence on Israel to call a ceasefire.
            By the way it may well save thousands more innocent civilians dying.

          4. Tom Ultuous says:

            23’s argument is akin to saying the GFA could never have happened because the Real IRA would never settle for anything short of a united Ireland and the DUP were against the GFA. It was solved by making the two of them pretty irrelevant.

          5. 231225 says:

            Indeed. So, how do we make Hamas and the State of Israel pretty irrelevant in the same way that we made the Real IRA and the DUP irrelevant?

    2. John says:

      There is no comparison between military hardware used in Palestine by IDF in comparison to rockets fired by Hamas on Israel.
      The scale will be several hundredfold greater and IDF fires on Palestinians, who have no defence, in comparison to Israeli’s who have the iron dome.
      Israel cannot eradicate Hamas and I doubt that such an objective is legitimate under international law. They can neutralise Hamas temporarily but embolden them politically and ultimately militarily in medium term if they continue with their current policy.
      It is in everyone’s interest for an immediate ceasefire except the current extremist Israeli government
      Israel has suffered a great trauma on 7th October but have already wasted most of the international sympathy and goodwill that this brought them. The atrocities of 7th October were horrific and unjustified but did not happen in a vacuum and to look at it in that manner is simplistic.
      Israel is by far strongest military in region and they are backed by USA the most powerful military country in world. They are therefore not under a threat to their future but Palestine and it’s people are.
      Israel has a right to justice but not to revenge but should also be held to account for breaking international law as should Hamas.
      An immediate ceasefire is only way to break cycle of violence and stop this conflict spiralling out of control. The sooner the ceasefire the less challenging the political solution, which is only solution, will be.
      Israel is so much more powerful than Hamas militarily that it is obvious they must make first move on a ceasefire and it is only way they can get their hostages back alive. It is therefore up to USA to stop posturing in UN and force the implementation of a ceasefire before the USA loses more international credibility.
      It may also prevent the current deaths in Palestine being dwarfed by deaths from hunger and disease that will surely follow if this one sided war continues.

    3. Michael Farrell says:

      This (the comment from 231223) makes no sense to me. “It’s complicated *because Hamas*” is not an argument for genocide, ethnic cleansing or collective punishment – which is objectively what is happening in Gaza right now. Asking for a ceasefire is straightforward and simple. Not in the least complicated. Which is not to say that resolving the relationship between Israel and Hamas is not complicated. It definitely is, but there is no sense in or justification for the current ‘strategy’ of the Israeli government. It is not necessary, proportionate or effective. Just sickening and needs to stop..

      1. 231225 says:

        You’re right: ‘It’s complicated because Hamas’ isn’t an argument for genocide, ethnic cleansing or collective punishment (if that’s objectively what is happening in Gaza right now and not just an antisemitic narrative).

        Asking for a ceasefire is indeed straightforward and simple and not in the least complicated. The complication is that neither side in the conflict wants a ceasefire (unless it would serve some tactical or strategic advantage in the achievement of its ultimate end). What Hamas ultimately wants is to drive the Jews out of Palestine. What Israel utimately wants is to render Hamas inoperative at least as a paramilitary force.

        And yes; the violence is sickening and needs to stop. I’m just saying that, realistically, there’s little likelihood that a lasting peace will ever happen, given the irreconcilable nature of the conflict between the warring parties.

        1. John says:

          This is not a war – this is a completely one sided (militarily speaking) response from Israel to an appalling atrocity.
          A workable ceasefire could be implemented at a minutes notice if the USA would support it (evidence UN votes) and use their undoubted influence on Israel.
          This would also restore some credibility and leverage to USA in region to help start path to a longer term peaceful settlement to benefit of all citizens who live there.
          What is becoming abundantly clear is that the alternative to a ceasefire is more bloodshed, bitterness, strengthened extremism, diminishing chances of a longer term peace and an increased chance of this conflict spreading and spiralling out of control.
          To oppose a ceasefire as USA does is not only looking beginning to look like an extremist or fundamentalist position but actively encouraging the spread of extremism.

          1. 231227 says:

            A workable ceasefire could indeed be implemented at a minute’s notice, except that neither side’s interested in ending the conflict between them. Hamas wants to drive the Jews out of Palestine, while Israel wants to render Hamas inoperative as a threat to the security of its citizens. A ceasefire’s in neither’s interest unless it wins one side a tactical or strategic advantage over the other in the ongoing conflict between the two.

          2. John says:

            To dateman comments of 27th.
            Repeating the same comment over and over again is not debate it is, as Nicholas Parsons would have said repetition!
            Please read all my previous comments where I have outlined how this conflict is extremely imbalanced, why an immediate ceasefire is required and how it could be implemented by the USA to all sides long term benefit. International diplomacy and leadership is not about taking sides but about trying to reduce tensions, minimise damage and civilian deaths and trying to work out peaceful solutions.
            Your replies are trite and simplistic and the equivalent of throwing your arms up in the air and to quote John Laurie just saying we’re doomed!

          3. 231227 says:

            I agree John; the conflict between Hamas and Israel is extremely imbalanced, an immediate ceasefire is desirable, and the US could support the UN’s resolution that there should be such a ceasefire.

            But, as I keep saying: notwithstanding the rights and wrongs of the matter, and notwithstanding all the huffing anf puffing of the UN, a [permanent] ceasefire remains an unlikely prospect because it’s not in the long-term interests of either of the parties in the conflict. It won’t help Hamas drive the Jews out of Palestine. And it certainly won’t help Israel render Hamas inoperative as a threat to the security of its citizens.

            I’m sorry if you find this conclusion trite and pessimistic. Beats wishful thinking and/or empty moral posturing, though.

          4. John says:

            Last reply to dateman.
            Forgive me for repeating myself but if you read my replies I have outlined the geopolitical reasons for an immediate ceasefire as well as humanitarian rationale.
            I am not stupid or naive to think that a ceasefire will be a magic wand or change Hamas or Likud coalition government. It will however help reduce their influence in medium and longer term whereas the longer this conflict drags on the more support Hamas will build up from Palestinians and the more embedded BN and his hostile government will become.
            The more pressure that is put on our government to back a ceasefire the more they will move their position which is being witnessed by a recent change of tone. The more USA allies put pressure on them to support a ceasefire then the greater chance of U.S. government changing approach.
            As to your final comment about me empty moral posturing let me reply by saying that it is preferable to have a moral compass than being a moral vacuum.

          5. 231227 says:

            ‘[T]he longer this conflict drags on the more support Hamas will build up from Palestinians and the more embedded BN and his hostile government will become.’

            My point entirely. Why would either side agree to anything more than a tactical ceasefire? Neither side has any interest in peace.

            And, yes; the situation is morally deplorable, But however strongly we condemn it in accordance with the orientations of our various moral compasses, the fact remains that Hamas and Israel will continue fighting until one of them has achieved its existential mission of destroying the other.

  2. SteveH says:

    The rape, mutilation, murder and kidnapping of innocents on October 7th was a deliberate act of provocation against Israel. Be careful what you wish for.

    1. James Mills says:

      What would Jesus ( a Jew ) do ?

      1. 231223 says:

        Same as he did when the Romans ran Judea.

      2. SteveH says:

        I’m a pagan, so I don’t care about any Abrahamic religion. However, I do recognise geopolitics in action when I see it.

    2. BSA says:

      You frame it as a macho boys confrontation with Israel as the aggrieved party. The article deplores the Hamas atrocity but recognises the root of the problem which is Israel’s long standing oppression. Nothing can excuse the behaviour of Israel over many decades unless of course you believe their claim that God promised the whole holy land to them alone.

      1. SteveH says:

        Welcome to the real world. Look throughout history you will see different peoples fighting each other over trade, food, water, land, power.

        There is a struggle with foreign powers wanting to destroy the West. Not because they are better, but they want what we have. They have never had an enlightenment. All of what they have that’s progressive is what they’ve learnt from Europe.

        Israel is a bastion against forces that would overwhelm us and destroy us.

        If people like you had your way we would be destroyed. Do you think our new masters would treat us kindly, and people like you would be the first to be executed.

        Critical social justice beliefs would mark you out as ideological trouble with problematic beliefs.

        Wake up and smell the coffee.

        1. John says:

          Stevie H – the ironymeter has just registered way off the scale reading a post from you mentioning enlightenment.
          It has provided me with the funniest Xmas joke I have read in many a year.
          Thanks & Merry Christmas!

        2. Frank Mahann says:

          Perhaps that made sense in your own head ?

        3. 231226 says:

          I’m not sure that’s quite right, Steve. Fundamentalists are fundamentalists precisely because they *don’t* want what we have – namely, modernity or ‘enlightenment’ – which they associate with the moral decadence of the West, following the death of fundamental values or ‘God’ and the advent of ‘nihilism’ that modernity entails. Fundamentalists want a return of the fundamental values that (they imagine) once made their societies great.

          This is why (for example) the fundamentalists of the alt-right deplore critical theory, which seeks to undermine the fundamental values or ‘God’ that once made America great, and who would rescue America from its moral decadence and make it great again by returning its society to the fundamental values that modernity has undermined.

      2. John says:

        BSA – Your wasting your valuable time debating with Stevie H. He is an alt right conspiracy theorist who likes to post his nonsense on this site for some reason. A typical example of his level of thinking from his reply to you is him stating ‘they want what we have’ when discussing countries such as Palestine which were part of British or European Empire ie countries which we invaded and took from indigenous people. This typically demonstrates his wilfully ignorance of history.

        1. Wul says:

          Yeah, It’s kind of weird that Steve’s defence of our priceless UK democracy means travelling to the other side of Europe, then killing people in their own country. Whodathunkit?

  3. Cathie Lloyd says:

    Thankyou. We canot have enough voices calling for peace and doing our utmost to stop fanning the flames of division.

  4. Daniel Raphael says:

    Yes. As awful as it feels to be “just one” and “typing at a keyboard onto a screen,” even that is better than doing nothing. It is unacceptable to simply turn away. Besides, one’s own heart won’t allow it.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post has commented that in the USA, Jewish opposition to the Israeli genocide, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians has been proportionally greater than among Evangelical Zionist Christians, who apparently long for the Second Coming of Jesus and Armageddon. And there are ten times as many Evangelicals as Jews there, apparently, who are mobilised to vote for candidates promising MegaDeath.
    Without such Christian support (although they can be virulently anti-Semitic and profess beliefs that Jews will be damned and destroyed if they don’t convert), it is hard to see how Israeli settler colonialism would be sustainable.

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