Don’t look away

The crisis in Gaza is no longer avoidable, explainable or excusable
Images of attacks on apartment buildings in Palestine in October
Images of attacks on apartment buildings in Palestine in October
Photo courtesy of Motaz Azaiza

 In November, the Holly Spirit published an Opinions piece informing students on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine and advocating for awareness and action.  

Things have dramatically worsened since. 

As the days go on, Palestinians continue to live under inhumane conditions and lose members of their families to bombings. Since early October of 2023 , Palestine has been experiencing a humanitarian crisis with mass violence. As of this month, nearly 30,000 citizens have been brutally killed with millions displaced. Basic amenities such as clean water, food and electricity have all been compromised under the hands of the Israeli government — more specifically, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As he continues to raid homes, hospitals and even schools all around Gaza, men, women and children have suffered.

In December,  the New Republic (TNR), an American magazine dedicated to addressing critical issues in the world, published an article calling Netanyahu the war criminal of the year. This cannot be closer to the truth. Netanyahu continues to commit war crimes despite the knowledge that thousands of innocent civilians are dying, and despite increasing pressure from other nations to pause for humanitarian aid. Netanyahu claims these attacks are merely a way to reach the core of Hamas and take only Hamas down, but as the days go on, it cannot be more clear that that is completely misleading. The sole purpose of these attacks or “war” (which is not a war in the traditional sense, because Palestine does not have an army) is to assure all Palestinians are wiped out in an act of ethnic cleansing. The number of deaths in Gaza currently, if not, are  tantamount to a genocide.

Perhaps most telling about the conflict is not only how deeply unpopular it is globally, but also how deeply unpopular it is within Israel itself. According to a Reuters poll last month, only 15% of Israelis support Netanyahu’s continuation in office following the attacks on Gaza. The Jerusalem Post reported his disapproval rating to be rising; as of last month, it hovered around 52%. 

 Most problematic is the fact that the U.S. seems to be joining forces with Netanyahu  as U.S continues to donate billions of dollars and ammunition to Israel towards their attacks on Gaza. 

President Biden bears just as much responsibility for these deaths as Netanyahu does. Biden has supported Israel since he entered public service, and continues to support Israel during these times. Biden has stated many times that these attacks are less of a genocide and more of an attempt to destroy Hamas. Of course the numbers say otherwise, and Biden knows that very well. The number of deaths in Gaza are higher the the number of deaths in Ukraine after Russian invasion, which Biden himself has publically called a genocide.

Given everything that has been happening, Biden has received countless questions on his take on innocent civilians being killed everyday in Palestine as well as the shortage of vital resources. He has responded saying he is pushing for humanitarian aid in Gaza and is upset about the rising death toll, but his action and political maneuvering suggest otherwise. If he truly cares about the deaths in Gaza and sees it as a concern, he would come out with much stronger language against Netanyahu and his campaign. Biden has attempted to remain neutral through his continual support for Israel and apparent concern for Palestine, but in a crisis such as this, you simply can not remain neutral. You can not sympathize with both the victims and the perpetrators. 

You cannot sympathize with both the victims and the perpetrators.

For an incredibly short period of time at the end of November 2023, Israel and the U.S. held a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, lasting from November 24 to November 30. Keep in mind this is during Thanksgiving, a holiday in America that emphasizes the idea of peace and coming to the table together. Even then the U.S. and Israel were hardly going to spare Palestinians; immediately after the end of the ceasefire, Israel dominated Gaza in full motion, attacking more intensely than ever. While America enjoyed a warm Thanksgiving with their families in their homes, families in Gaza starved, froze and watched their families barely grasp on to life. 

According to a recent New York Times article, Netanyahu visited Israeli troops fighting in Gaza. During this visit, Netanyahu witnessed the mounting numbers of deaths and bodies across Gaza. He has seen the intensity of his actions and the result of it, which is the complete wipeout of an ethnicity. Nevertheless, Netanyahu further claims he will “deepen” the war crimes as the days go on. 

Netanyahu’s ability to go on attacking thousands of civilians, including pregnant mothers, infants, toddlers and elderly people is appalling. Even more appalling is Netanyahu’s recent calls for “voluntary migration” from Gaza, implying that there will be no peaceable solution to the conflict, and that Palestinians will be replaced from their long-time homes.

With the height of the crisis in Palestine, many companies have made their names under various boycott lists for allegedly supporting Israel through services or statements. Starbucks, a popular worldwide coffeehouse company is one of the main companies being boycotted at this time. Since the attacks on Gaza in October of 2023, union workers have expressed solidarity with Palestinians however it is said the coffee chain had filed a lawsuit against the union for trademark infringement. Since, Starbucks has received an immense backpack resulting in them losing over $11 billion in the span of one and a half month. Strabucks has refuted all and any allegations and claims to have no political stance. I must say I have never seen such incredible resistance before. The fact that the world has been able to come together for the most part and resist a company that is allegedly supporting a humatrain crisis is admirable. Starbucks was not the only mass boycott target at the time, other popular fast food chains such as Burger King, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s have made the list . 

McDonalds, another popular fast food chain, has been supplying IDF soldiers with free meals while they raid Gaza and torture innocent civilians. They have expressed intentions to give soldiers discounts while on duty as well. 

On  December 13 dozens of the Biden administration protested for immediate ceasefire. The crowd included politicians and civil service career staff. Members of the protest hid their identities for protection purposes.  All staff members that attended the protest were in full support of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Even many of Biden’s own staff members are against him in his decisions to support Israel.

But it is not just the Biden administration that feels as though America’s support has gone beyond limits, U.S. citizens themselves believe it is time Biden discourages Netanyahu’s actions. There has been growing disapproval of the attacks in Gaza throughout states. Citizens demand immediate ceasefire. Results from polls given out by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research show 50% of US adults disapprove of attacks in Gaza as of January 2024. Sixty-three percent of that being democrats and thirty-three percent being republicans. This is not to say there aren’t many citizens who do approve of Biden’s actions. Given the new presidential election for 2024 is fast approaching, the crisis in Palestine could greatly affect the political outcomes in the USA. 

To make matters worse, recently multiple videos have been circulating the internet, videos that vividly show IDF inhumanely detaining groups of males (teens and adults) by tying their hands in front of them or by their back and shamelessly stripping them in public. IDF claims this is to assure no one is carrying explosives. These men are kept outside, kneeling, in the cold for hours as IDF officers humiliate them by constantly inspecting them. The pictures from these scenes are nothing short of horrific. Women and children have not been spared either. Women (fully clothed) are kneeled on the ground blindfolded and hands tied. 

When one examines the photos, one cannot help but see the unfortunate and horrible resemblance these photos bear to other genocides throughout history, including Bosnia, Rwanda and even the Holocaust.

Despite these parallels, many in America remain unmoved by the horrors of what is happening in real time. For example, earlier this month, the Kansas City Chiefs faced off against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, where airtime for commercials costs millions of dollars. During the game, Robert Kraft’s “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” organization paid over $7 million for an ad hoping to “bring all dads home.” Many Americans were quick to point out the hypocrisy of the ad, and the complete lack of any ad space calling for support for Palestinians. That very night, nearly a million Palestinians had to take refuge in Rafah, a city on the southern Gaza strip bordering Egypt and built for 200,000 citizens, which is now immensely overpopulated with citizens who are in great need of medical attention. Recent raids on hospitals have made medical support nearly impossible, and recently NPR reported that Netanyahu plans on attacking Rafah at some point. He believes this is the last possibility to obliterate Hamas. The one place where civilians have found some sort of security, and now Netanyahu feels the need to take that away from that. 

When one examines the photos, one cannot help but see the unfortunate and horrible resemblance these photos bear to other genocides throughout history, including Bosnia, Rwanda and even the Holocaust.

If statistics and numbers won’t convince Americans, if the cries from mothers over the bodies of their children won’t and if the sheer historical weight of history won’t, I will leave you with this. Earlier this month, Palestinian journalist and photographer Motaz Azaiza, who has been capturing some of the most graphic and heart-wrenching images from the assault, recently spoke to the Guardian about his experience. Azaiza lost many family members and neighbors, as well as colleagues and peers. After months of capturing images while fighting for his life, he has decided to evacuate, feeling defeated by the mounting sadness that comes with each image.

One of Motaz Azaiza’s photos from his Instagram account, documenting the makeshift camps and destroyed homes in Gaza. (Photo courtesy of Motaz Azaiza)

“As humans, we all have a responsibility to bear witness to what is happening in Gaza,” he told the Guardian. “I tried my best to show the world our reality, now the world needs to show where it stands. It is ordinary people, men and women, who have the power to save what remains of Palestine. Our plea is simple – we just want to live.”

I highly encourage donating to organizations such as: Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, UNICEF. If you are unable to donate, please make efforts to spread the videos and photos shared by the journalists in Gaza and Rafah to promote help in Palestine. Palestinians have counting on humanity. They are counting on you to not look away. 


View Comments (1)
Donate to The Holly Spirit
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Your contribution will allow us to enter into regional and national competitions, and will help fund trips to journalism conferences to continue to improve our writing and work!

More to Discover
Donate to The Holly Spirit
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The Holly Spirit Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    Syed AbdullahFeb 28, 2024 at 12:56 pm

    I think that this is very well written. It’s a shame that so many people are silent about the current issues, and some even go through lengths to sugar-coat it. What we’re dealing with here is a genocide, nothing less. With Ramadan coming up I hope we can expect some changes. It’s important that we continue advocating for Palestine and I’m glad that you posted this, I’m not sure that anyone else would have.