Destruction from Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal area in Gaza City on October 9

 
Israel’s attacks on Gaza have created a bloodbath so great that even agencies aligned to the West say the territory is now a living hell. 
 
Bombs, missiles and tanks have displaced upwards of 1.8 million Palestinians from their homes. Thousands now live in tents in makeshift camps where disease spreads rapidly. 
 
One senior United Nations (UN) official in early December warned that half of Gaza’s population was starving. 
 
Carl Skau, deputy director of the UN World Food Programme, said its humanitarian operation in Gaza was “collapsing.”
 
He added that nothing could ­prepare him for the “fear, the chaos and the despair” he witnessed on a visit to Gaza. 
 
There was “confusion at ­warehouses, distribution points with thousands of desperate hungry people, supermarkets with bare shelves, and overcrowded shelters with bursting bathrooms,” he reported.
 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is among those organisations that can no longer be silent.
 
Its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Israelis had mounted 449 attacks on health services in Gaza and in the West Bank since 7 October. “Now the work of health workers is impossible,” he said. 
 
In the same speech, Ghebreyesus noted that there is only one shower unit for every 700 people and one toilet for 150 people.
 
“As more and more people move to a smaller and smaller area, overcrowding, combined with the lack of adequate food, water, shelter and sanitation, are creating the ideal conditions for disease to spread,” he said.
 
The organisation demanded immediate access to vital humanitarian aid and an end to fighting in Gaza. Israel’s relentless bombardment has not destroyed the resistance.
 
The fighting wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, announced at the beginning of December that it destroyed or damaged 79 Israeli vehicles in Gaza City in just three days of fighting.
 
That coincided with figures from the Israeli military that showed losses of more than 100 soldiers.
 
The Brigades said in a statement, “Our fighters have booby-trapped a tunnel entrance in the Sheikh Radwan area, and as soon as an Israeli force advanced on it, it was blown up.
 
“As a result, members of the Israeli force were killed and wounded.” 
 
The group also released footage that showed its fighters targeting and blowing up an Israeli Merkava tank in the Tal Al-Zaatar area in the northern Gaza Strip. 
 
News of resistance was cheered on by Palestinians in Gaza. 
“They (the resistance) destroyed their tanks. We will stay here. We are not leaving. 
 
“They (the Israelis) are the ones who should leave,” said one man in Jabalia. 
 
Hamas insists it will not release any more Israeli hostages until Palestinians held in Israeli jails are allowed to go free. 
 
Even the Israeli state now believes attempts to destroy Hamas could take longer than first thought. 
 
Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said recently that the war may have to be “measured in months.”
 
‘No words for my sadness’
Ibitsam lives in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. She told Socialist Worker she wanted to send a message to people across the world to keep fighting for Palestine. 
 
“I went to see a doctor, and when I was on my way back home, I burst into tears,” she said. “I saw the children on the streets wearing unclean clothes and without shoes. 
 
“Markets are empty and buildings are destroyed. No words can describe my grief for all of those who have been killed and injured. 
 
“No words describe the sadness I feel that people’s homes and our infrastructure have been destroyed. 
 
“What we are suffering today hasn’t happened since the 1948 Nakba when the state of Israel came into being. 
 
“I always dreamed of a happy country with facilities, with schools for children. But the other side, the Israeli state, doesn’t want this.
 
“It will do everything to stop us from living, from blockades to bloody and frequent wars. 
 
“But as helpless and hopeless the situation becomes, I remind myself that this shall end sooner or later. What matters is that we live with dignity. 
 
“I still believe we will get our rights because no one can deny that we are the owners of this land—and that the Israelis are the thieves.” 
 
‘This Christmas, Bethlehem will be silent’
“This year we will have a silent Christmas here in Bethlehem,” West Bank filmmaker and photographer Nadir Mauge told Socialist Worker. 
 
“There won’t be the same processions or celebrations this Christmas. Christians in Bethlehem have decided to send a message that things can’t go on as normal while the assault on Gaza continues. 
 
“We hope it’s going to make an impact. We hope it will make people listen.” 
 
A group of Christian leaders in early December sent a letter to the White House calling for the US to back a ceasefire in Gaza. 
 
Reverend Doctor Munther Isaac, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, was asked by the press if he had received an answer. 
 
He replied that the US response was “the veto vote at the UN”. “The US celebrates Christmas in its land, and wages war in our land,” he said.
 
Nadir says that living in the West Bank feels like living “in limbo” because Israeli forces and settlers continue to step up their attacks.
 
“You can’t plan. You don’t know what the future will look like. Everyday life has been disrupted,” he said. 
 
“My parents are glued to the television screen. They want to know exactly what is happening in Gaza. 
 
“To get us all away from screens, we all decided to have daily walks. But one day, I was walking near my house, and there was an explosion. I didn’t know where it came from.  
 
“That’s the situation we’re in now. We just don’t know what’s going to happen day to day.” 
 
He added, “Soldiers are coming to make arrests 24/7 now. The security is a lot tighter. It’s almost impossible for us to travel to Jerusalem.
 
“Things have always been bad. We don’t have basic human rights. But since 7 October, it’s gotten worse.” 
 
But, said Nadir, Palestinians in the West Bank are still finding ways to resist, despite the heightened repression. 
 
“One thing that feels different this time is that despite having an advanced propaganda machine, I don’t think Israel is winning that war. 
 
“Here in the West Bank, Palestinians are desperately trying to get the word out. There are so many neighbourhood Telegram chats that document when Israeli soldiers or settlers attack.
 
“Young people are making TikTok videos.
 
“The Palestinian resistance has much better media as well now. All of us are working hard to get the word out and drown out Israeli lies,” he added.
Israeli troops parade men they had forced to strip
Israeli troops forced around 100 Palestinians from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza into humiliating acts as they swept through the town.
 
They forced those they captured to strip and then marched them nearly naked through the streets. 
 
Video footage of the sadistic ritual emerged on social media and the Telegram messaging app in early December. 
 
Some pictures show lines of Palestinians, many handcuffed, before Israeli troops.
 
Another video shows naked and bound Palestinians forced to kneel before a crevice in a rocky canyon.  
 
A senior Hamas official accused Israeli forces of carrying out a “heinous crime against innocent civilians”.
 
The images will likely remind people of how US troops brutalised detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison during the West’s war on Iraq, the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan—and at its Guantanamo Bay prison.
 
But for some, Israel’s treatment of the men was far too lenient. The deputy mayor of Jerusalem called for burying the Palestinians alive.
 
Arieh King said the captured people in the videos were “subhuman” and “Nazi Muslims”. 
 
“We have to pick up the pace,” he said on Twitter, referring to the Israeli army’s “elimination” of Palestinians. 
 
King added that if it were up to him, he would have used the D-9 armoured bulldozers to bury the men alive, calling them “ants”.  
 
“They are not human beings and not even human animals, they are subhuman and that is how they should be treated,” King said. 
 
Palestinian reaction to the footage has been one of horror. 
 
“The occupation forces are now gathering the civilian population from their homes, leaving them without clothes,” Zahrat, who lives near Nablus in the West Bank, told Socialist Worker. 
 
“The whole world watches silently. What did these innocent civilians do? We are being subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing. Please have mercy, world spectator.” 
 
Some of the images and videos were shared by Israeli war correspondent Itay Blumental, who described those pictured as “terrorists who handed themselves over to Israeli soldiers.” 
 
But the Israeli army was later forced to admit that those they kidnapped were civilians.  
 
By then Israeli soldiers and others had widely shared the footage on social media as a way to further humiliate the Palestinians.
 
King captioned a picture of the Palestinians rounded up by the Israeli army as, “Hundreds of Muslim Nazis, what do you think their sentence should be?” 
 
One of the kidnapped Palestinians told reporters, “The occupation soldiers stripped us, arrested us and put us in trucks. Then they ordered some of us to return home and kept others in detention.
 
“We returned to find that most of the homes we left from had been burned.”
Figures for dead are accurate—The Lancet 
Some Western politicians insist authorities in Gaza are exaggerating the civilian death toll.
 
But early in December, the highly regarded medical journal The Lancet wrote that the Gaza Ministry of Health has been accurately recording those the Israelis have killed.  
 
The journal wrote, “Using publicly available information we compared the Gaza Ministry of Health mortality reports with a separate source of mortality reporting and found no evidence of inflated rates.” 
 
In October Joe Biden dismissed the Gaza Ministry of Health figures, saying that he had “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.” 
 
Shortly afterwards, the Gaza Ministry of Health released a list of names of all those who had been killed.
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