“Our brave soldiers are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak today. We salute them all.”
The massacre in Gaza was taking place just 50 km away from Arnona, on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. There, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his American guests, and diplomats of, among others, four European Union countries, were inaugurating with ceremony, smiles and handshakes the new US embassy. Netanyahu again had words of praise for his soldiers, whose target practice killed more than 50 Palestinians on Monday, some of them young boys.
And what the snipers couldn’t achieve by themselves, Israeli aircraft and armored vehicles did. The army’s performance was certainly worthy of special honor, since the lives of Palestinians did not seem to have any value anymore. They were not men, women and children, but “terrorists,” no matter their age, 14 or 30.
Neither did it matter that those Palestinians who were killed, and the 2,410 who were wounded, were unarmed—except for three, who were killed, according to the spokesman of the Israeli military, while they were allegedly placing a bomb underneath the barriers between Israel and Gaza.
“The Hamas terrorist organization declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to break through the border fence in order to achieve this aim,” and “every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” Netanyahu said, leading the chorus of those now rushing to insist that, yes, they were all terrorists.
Two million Palestinians are living as if sentenced to life imprisonment in Gaza, corralled like animals in less than 400 square kilometers, with little water, no resources, no jobs, no electricity and no hopes.
Netanyahu is justifying the massacre by arguing the right to self-defense and to protect the country’s borders. He spoke of (alleged) concerted attacks on the border barriers in an attempt to infiltrate Israel. But the Israeli army has said that no one actually crossed the border during the demonstrations. In any case, the soldiers did not hesitate to shoot at anyone who approached—while being in full compliance, as the army command stressed, with the “rules of engagement.”
Meanwhile, those on the other side of the border were counting their dead, adding more every minute. The victims were all very young, few of them older than 30. It quickly became apparent that the day would be drenched in blood, the deadliest Israeli offensive since 2014. There were already seven dead in Gaza by 2 p.m. The carnage lasted until the evening, when the protesters withdrew.
The scene in the hospitals was a living hell, with a state of constant emergency that continued until late into the night. Doctors did everything possible to save the lives of the most seriously injured, but they often did not succeed.
“We are exhausted, but we keep working, while medical supplies are running out,” Dr. Said Sehwel at the Awda hospital in northern Gaza told il manifesto. “Ours is a small hospital, yet in the last hours we treated around 150 people and carried out several emergency surgeries. Some of the wounded were hit in the abdomen or chest, and one in the neck. Three are in very serious condition. And we do not have enough fuel to ensure that the electricity generators can keep operating during the next 48 hours.”
An equally serious situation was described to us by doctors from other small hospitals, clinics and outpatient units that Monday opened their doors to treat the less seriously injured and prevent the overcrowding of operating rooms at the larger hospitals, such as the Shifa and the European Hospital of Khan Yunis, which are better equipped for more serious cases.
“The entire Gaza health system is collapsing, and yet it goes on and continues to do its best to assist the wounded, of which some are little older than children. A little while ago, we put out an appeal to donate blood,” Nasser al Qidwa, the spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, told us Monday night.
Outside the hospitals, one saw tearful mothers and fathers with their faces in their hands, waiting to know the condition of their children, whether seriously injured or already dead and taken to the morgue. Such harrowing scenes, like the improvised funerals for victims whose families wanted to give an immediate burial, have not been seen since July 2014.
Mohammed, Ezzedin, Alaa, Ismail, Fadel. These are some of the names of the victims no one wants to talk about. For Israel, they were just terrorists.
One wonders if Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian issue, is aware that in Gaza hospitals can only keep working thanks to generators. Or that in Gaza, you can die from diseases that are considered easily treatable in the West because of the blockade. This baby-faced, rich young American, whom Trump asked to solve the Middle East conflict, had no qualms about saying that the protests in Gaza were “part of the problem and not part of the solution” in his speech during the 81-minute ceremony with which the US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem amid the Palestinian protests.
The American president was not there himself but sent a two-and-a-half-minute video message to the large audience of those invited to the embassy, many of them high-ranking members of the US administration and Congress. “Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital,” Trump said, claiming for himself the merit of having achieved what his predecessors, he said, had not had the courage to do.
After setting fire to the whole situation, Trump innocently reiterated that the US “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement, and we continue to support the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites.” Then the stage belonged to Netanyahu, who thanked Trump and spoke of a “historic moment” for Israel on the 70th anniversary of its founding.
Only at the end of the day was the voice of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heard, who condemned the massacre in Gaza and the US embassy move, which was “not the opening of an embassy, but the opening of a U.S. settlement outpost.” A rather weak response from a president who claims to be leading a people who are living through one of the most critical phases in their history.