In the the previous post, I discussed how genocide is defined and identified using the concept of intent, how it has been applied or not applied in international law, and the evidence for genocidal intent on the part of the Israeli military and that of Hamas.
Today I’ll talk about the numbers killed on each side and discuss public opinion in Israel and Gaza regarding the attacks.
In conclusion I will give you my opinion about the original question of genocide in Israel and Gaza.
The horrors of the Hamas assault on Israel are well documented, and so are the atrocities of the Israeli response. In the October 7th assault 1,139 Israelis were killed—two thirds of them civilians, including babies—and around 240 were taken hostage. The killings included brutal rapes and torture of women.
In retaliation, between October 7 and January 7 Israel killed over 23,084 Palestinians in Gaza, and the numbers continue to mount. Again, most of the dead are civilians, many of them children.
The news outlets I’ve perused, from the Times of Israel to the Washington Post to Al Jazeera, do not dispute the numbers Israel gives for those murdered by Hamas. By contrast, United States newspapers and President Biden continue to suggest that the numbers the Palestinian Health Ministry gives for Palestinians killed by Israeli bombardment are dubious. Of course, we are supplying our ally Israel with billions of dollars in military equipment, therefore they are to be trusted, while the Palestinians must be exaggerating.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says that the Palestinian figures are likely an undercount, rather than an exaggeration, partly because no one knows how many corpses have not yet been retrieved from the buildings Israel has bombed.
I recently had email conversations with an Israeli, a Holocaust survivor who arrived in that country as a small child. She said it was “hard to describe the agony and insecurity and mistrust and rage… The agony of the families of the people who were kidnapped…who were brutally raped [and/or] killed… It’s almost like all the horror woke up in me old wounds of pogroms going back hundreds of years… Our government is a bunch of morons…no one there to trust and respect.”
When I asked about local reaction to the bombing of Gaza, she said that if you speak up against it, you are accused of destroying the army’s morale, and people shun you.
News sources confirm this. In November Dr. Meir Baruchin, a civics and history teacher, was arrested for “intending to commit treason.” He faced a maximum ten-year sentence if found guilty. A judge released him, but the school district subsequently fired him. His real crime? A series of posts decrying the killings of Palestinian youths in the West Bank and the slaughter of civilians in Gaza. According to Haaretz, “The motive for his arrest was deterrence – silencing any criticism or any hint of protest against Israeli policy.”
On the Palestinian side, polls taken in Gaza and the West Bank during the temporary cease-fire of Nov. 22 to Dec. 2 show a high degree of support for Hamas.
Per an Associated Press report, “Despite the devastation, 57% of respondents in Gaza and 82% in the West Bank believe Hamas was correct in launching the October attack, the poll indicated. A large majority believed Hamas’ claims that it acted to defend a major Islamic shrine in Jerusalem against Jewish extremists and win the release of Palestinian prisoners. Only 10% said they believed Hamas has committed war crimes, with a large majority saying they did not see videos showing the militants committing atrocities.”
No surprise here. Most people see what their governments want them to see, or what they themselves want to believe, especially during wartime.
I’m not a lawyer and don’t have much faith in any courts. As many have pointed out, justice in the United States generally depends on how much money you have, on race, and on sex, among other factors. And as I’ve shown in the previous post, international courts charge the losers of wars, never the victors or the most powerful nations, with genocide.
From the research I have shared with you in this series of blog posts, I believe that the Israeli military is committing genocide, with the United States’ collaboration, and Hamas would do the same if it could. It’s just that Israel’s military resources are vastly greater.
Let me tell you a family story. My mother was born in Poland and, as a small child, survived a pogrom where her infant brother died. When she attended elementary school, gentile boys threw stones at her, calling her “Christ-killer.” Decades later, when I was barely adolescent, she expressed great admiration for Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan. He was so unlike the ghetto Jewish boys who spent their days poring over books—he would have defended her!
The refugees from Europe’s pogroms, from the Holocaust, and later from Arab lands that had expelled them—refugees who went on to create the current state of Israel—believed that a strong military would guarantee the survival of the Jewish people.
There’s always been a problem with that solution, though.
Aside from moral quibbles about dispossessing Palestinian inhabitants of their land, or about treating them as second-class citizens if they are lucky enough to have citizenship at all, aside from the questionable ethics of taking an eye for an eye (or in the current conflict, 20 eyes for an eye), aside from the fact that Israeli vengeance is feeding a deep hatred in the Palestinian survivors—
Military supremacy doesn’t last forever.