Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
November 13, 2023
WN: Words fail. . .
Then please also see a later article, November 16, 2023, by the same author: The Israeli right hopes not just for victory in Gaza, but also conquest. We read:
Perhaps the most articulated ideas on what should come next among Israelis are being voiced on Netanyahu’s right flank. And they also happen to be the most hard-line and extreme visions for what Israel should do in Gaza.
Consider the remarks of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who, while inciting new rounds of violence in the West Bank, also suggested anyone who sympathizes with Hamas should be “eliminated.” Or those of Amihai Eliyahu, a far-right coalition partner of Netanyahu and Israel’s heritage minister, who said dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza could be an option. Or the call from Galit Distel Atbaryan, recently (but no longer) Israel’s information minister, to erase “all of Gaza from the face of the earth” and drive its Palestinians into exile in Egypt.
That rhetoric is not far from the extremist views of the sitting finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who said this week that Israel “would no longer be able to accept” an independent Palestinian entity in Gaza and called for the “voluntary emigration” of its people to countries elsewhere in the world.
The question, then, is who or what will fill the breach. On the Israeli left, there’s real dread about the possible answer. “As the last 50 years have shown, any single settler’s hallucination should be taken seriously, and treated as a plan of action by the next government, if not the current one,” wrote Haaretz columnist Amira Hass. “And when the hallucination is built on overt plans for total destruction and mass expulsion, wars are the most suitable ground for its realization.”
For many Palestinians, one word haunts their historical imagination: “Nakba.” It means catastrophe in Arabic and summons the disasters that befell hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war when they were driven from their homes and native cities in the wake of Israel’s founding. “Their villages were destroyed, or resettled and renamed, their histories erased,” explained my colleague Louisa Loveluck. “It is a deep and enduring trauma that has touched nearly every Palestinian family — one many fear is repeating itself.”
Indeed, as the devastating Israeli campaign against Hamas in Gaza rumbles on, the specter of a new Nakba looms. The scale and scope of Israel’s aerial bombardments of the tiny territory are unprecedented. At the beginning of the month, a Geneva-based rights group said the volume of munitions dropped by Israel on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 was already about the equivalent to two of the nuclear bombs deployed over Japan by the United States at the end of World War II.
The destruction and escalating ground offensive has claimed more than 11,000 Palestinian lives in Gaza, many of them children, and prompted a staggering humanitarian crisis. It has also forced about 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents to flee their homes — a displacement that may redefine the territory for years to come. The bulk of Gaza’s residents are registered refugees whose ancestors fled what is now Israel in 1948. Now, they reckon with a new tragedy.
The Arab world is hardly standing with Hamas, though it’s outraged by the disproportionate onslaught unleashed by Israel. “Israel crossed every legal, ethical & humanitarian red line in its barbaric war on Gazans,” tweeted Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi, pointing to the West’s moral double standards. “Yet Int’l community & its key organizations have failed to even demand a ceasefire.”
The crisis facing Palestinians is not just in Gaza. In the West Bank, where Israeli settlements and jurisdictions carve up the land once envisioned as the site of a viable Palestinian state, settler vigilantes have stepped up their attacks on Palestinians in the aftermath of Oct. 7. “The United Nations has recorded 222 settler attacks against Palestinians over the past month,” my colleagues reported. “Eight people, including a child, have been killed. Another 64 Palestinians have been injured, more than a quarter by live ammunition.”
The violence has already forced dozens of families to flee their homes and abandon groves of olive trees tended by their families for generations. My colleagues, including Loveluck, visited the West Bank community of Zanuta, whose 150 or so Palestinian residents were leaving in fear for their lives. “Those settlers are above the law; they are the state now,” Aser al-Tal, a 59-year-old shepherd, said to my colleagues.
Please click on: Nakba Again