This weekend, as mass protests escalated internationally against the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) war on Gaza, the IDF responded by stepping up bombing attacks on refugee camps and calls for the mass murder of Palestinians.
The IDF bombed the al-Maghazi refugee camp on Saturday, killing at least 51 people according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency, and injuring dozens more. Mohammed Alaloul, a journalist for Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, reported: “An Israeli air strike targeted my neighbors’ house in Al-Maghazi camp. The house next door partially collapsed.” He added that two of his sons—Ahmed, 13, and Qais, 4—had been killed and his wife, mother and two other children were injured.
The IDF bombed schools that were being used as shelters in refugee camps at Al Bureij, killing at least 15, and Jabaliya, killing six—in a camp that had already been bombed three times last week, killing hundreds. UN officials warned that this might be a sign that IDF forces could bomb more of the roughly 150 UN shelters in Gaza, which are housing around 700,000 of Gaza’s roughly 2.2 million population.
IDF forces are using genocidal methods to fight Hamas militias deep inside the Gaza strip, causing horrific casualties and unprecedented levels of suffering. Over 9,770 Palestinians have been killed, including 3,900 children and 2,509 women, with 2,200 missing while at least 70,000 Palestinians have been injured in the IDF war. Moreover, Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza threatens to unleash an unprecedented food and health crisis.
The blockade has cut off all fuel, food and water supplies to Gaza. Palestinians survive on an average of two pieces of bread per day. Moreover, the Israeli blockade has largely incapacitated five of Gaza’s six waste treatment plants and most of its water desalination plants, provoking a breakdown of the sewer system and a catastrophic shortage of drinking water. Gaza officials said that nearly 80 percent of Gaza’s wells have been destroyed.
At least 95 percent of Gazans do not have access to clean drinking water. UN Special Rapporteur Pedro Arrojo told the Spanish daily El Pais that they are drinking salty or brackish water extracted from surviving wells. “Drinking this water will make you vomit, but if you don’t, you’ll be dead in five or six days,” Arroyo said.
Eman Basher, a teacher in Gaza, wrote on X/Twitter: “My kids have been suffering from stomach flu with symptoms including abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea, which I always assumed is the normal result of sleeping on the floor or change of weather, just to learn that it is caused by contaminated water we drink daily and queue for hours to get. … We’ve been drinking this water for 15 days and fighting to get it.”
The seepage of wastewater into the ground water supply also poses the threat of deadly epidemics in Gaza. “We’re incredibly concerned that if there isn’t a greater level of access to water and sanitation, which requires electricity to enable the delivery of these services to people residing in densely populated urban areas, there will be an outbreak of infectious disease,” said Michael Talhami of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Talhami warned of the likely spread of “cholera, diarrhoea, hepatitis A and typhoid” fever.
A further public health danger comes from thousands of corpses that remain buried under the rubble of buildings bombed and leveled by the IDF.
In the meantime, IDF officials are escalating the bombing campaign targeting health facilities and medical professionals in Gaza. IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari claimed that “Hamas systematically exploits hospitals as part of its war machine,” and even that it “built the Indonesian Hospital to disguise its underground terror infrastructure.”
On Friday, UN officials confirmed that 135 health workers have been killed and 58 health care facilities hit by IDF bombings. Moreover, 16 hospitals and 51 primary health care centers have stopped functioning because of the fighting or lack of fuel due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Gaza’s main cancer hospital, the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, has also reportedly stopped due to IDF bombardments and fuel shortages.
UN officials also reported that 79 UN aid workers have been killed in less than a month of the Israel-Gaza war, the highest number ever in so relatively brief a conflict.
The IDF’s genocidal operations are proceeding with the full support of Washington, abetted by its NATO imperialist allies in Europe.
US officials have ruled out even a ceasefire in talks with their Middle Eastern counterparts. As he met Jordanian and Egyptian officials in Jordan’s capital Amman, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken ruled out any halting of the IDF onslaught against Gaza. A ceasefire, Blinken said, would “leave Hamas in place to regroup and repeat attacks.”
In a series of debased, politically-criminal statements, Israeli officials made it clear that they intend to annihilate Gaza’s Palestinian populations, except possibly for those who accept relocation to concentration camps outside Gaza. These statements came after Israeli Intelligence Ministry officials proposed last week to kill all Palestinians who did not accept deportation outside of Gaza, thus completely destroying the area’s Palestinian population.
On Sunday, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said he was dissatisfied with the current level of mass killing in Gaza and supported annihilating the zone with nuclear bombs. Asked on Kol Barama radio if he supported dropping “some kind of atomic bomb” on Gaza, Eliyahu replied: “That’s one option.” Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government issued a reprimand to Eliyahu for making this statement, claiming it was “disconnected from reality.”
Other Israeli ministers’ statements show, however, that Eliyahu’s genocidal statement was not an exaggeration or aberration, but faithfully reflect Netanyahu’s policies.
Galit Distel Atbaryan, a former Diplomacy Minister and now lawmaker of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, called on Israelis to use the energy they showed in protests earlier this year against Netanyahu’s government to carry out the mass murder of the Palestinians. On X/Twitter, she wrote: “Invest this energy in one thing; Erasing all of Gaza from the face of the earth. That the Gazan monsters will fly to the southern fence and try to enter Egyptian territory or they will die. And their death is evil. Gaza should be erased.”
A wave of murderous violence is also unfolding by far-right Israeli settlers in the West Bank, after Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir distributed 10,000 rifles and other military equipment to settlers after the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war. At least 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been killed by Israeli troops or settlers in the past three weeks.
The horrific levels of violence and the impunity with which it it is carried out by far-right forces protected by the Israeli regime and its NATO imperialist allies make one point clear. There is nothing that can be negotiated with the Netanyahu government or with its NATO backers. Halting the slaughter requires unifying the growing international protest movement of workers and youth against the war in a movement against Israel’s war on Gaza and all the capitalist governments that support it.