The slow and steady strangulation of the entire population of Gaza, all two million of them, continues. Israel has cut off all water, food, medicines, and electricity, in addition to steadily bombing the area. What aid that has been allowed in has been tiny, nowhere near enough to meet the needs. Now the internet has also been cut off so that people cannot even call for help when they are injured or dying. Hospitals are suffering without power, with doctors having to perform surgeries by the light of their cell phones. The Gaza Ministry of Health reports that more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed, including nearly 3,000 children.
In the US, to voice even the slightest concern for the lives of people in Gaza is to risk being condemned. Anything other than unequivocal support for anything and everything that Israel doses, however monstrous, is portrayed as making one a terrorist sympathizer, such is the powerful propaganda machine of the Israel lobby here. The political class in the US, including the Biden administration, has fallen in line, with only the mildest of calls for Israel to show restraint. The US and Israel were joined by only 12 other countries in voting against a UN resolution calling for a humanitarian truce.
The US has ended up looking quite badly isolated after only 12 countries joined Washington and Israel at the UN general assembly in opposing a motion calling for a sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.
One hour after Israel had extended its offensive in Gaza, Jordan’s motion was passed in New York by 120 votes to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The outcome was remarkable for showing the limited direct support for the world’s greatest superpower, with even France, Spain and the UK refusing to join the US in voting against the motion.
Israel is ignoring even those calls and seems intent to starving the people to death. Now they have even started casting doubts on the death tolls put out by the Gaza ministry of health, this being another way of making Gaza lives seem less valuable.
There are few voices in the mainstream media condemning the siege of Gaza and calling for a ceasefire and for the allowing of supplies that meet the basic human needs of the people to be met. Ryan Grim of The Intercept has managed to get an interview with someone in Gaza and it is sickening as he describes how they are expecting to die, they just don’t know when.
ISRAEL TURNED OFF the lights, cut the phone lines, and shut off the internet to Gaza on Friday night, plunging the region into darkness and isolation before launching a ground invasion. Only those inside know what’s happening there.
At the end of last week, I reached out to a source of mine from previous reporting, knowing that he was born and raised in Gaza, and I asked him how his family was managing in the face of the bombing campaign. He told me that so far, seven relatives on his father’s side, and 30 on his mother’s, had been killed. Those are numbers that we have no ability to comprehend. I told him that if he was able to, he was welcome to join our podcast, “Deconstructed” and tell their stories. After thinking about it for a few days, he decided to do it, and we spoke on Thursday evening, the night before he lost all contact with his family.
I first interviewed Maram for research I was doing for my new book on the Squad, the left, and their years-long fight with AIPAC over Israel–Palestine. That reporting turned into this feature published in the fall of 2022 on the distorting role of AIPAC and a related super PAC, Democratic Majority for Israel, in shaping and constraining the bounds of allowable discourse in Democratic primaries.
This week, that fight ratcheted up to unprecedented levels of animosity when nine Democrats voted against a resolution that condemned Hamas and defended Israel’s response, but which said nothing about Palestinian civilian lives lost. Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the Squad’s chief antagonist in the House, called them “despicable” in response. And President Joe Biden shockingly cast doubt on civilian casualty statistics put out by hospitals in Gaza because they run through the Ministry of Health, which is itself run by Hamas. In response, Hamas posted a public list of the names, ages, and ID numbers of 6,746 people who’ve died amid the bombing campaign. The list includes 2,664 children.
I’ve seen some people cast doubt on the reliability of the list, but Maram provided us a list of his relatives who’d been killed that was created before Hamas put its own data out, and those names all appear on the Ministry of Health list. (We did find one duplicate on the list, not a relative of Maram’s, a 14-year-old boy who appears twice on it. That’s why I say it’s a list of 6,746 people and not the number you’ve seen in public reporting, 6,747.) I asked Maram what he made of Biden’s dismissal of the accuracy of the numbers, and he said he agreed with Biden, but in the other direction: It’s not possible that the hospitals are capturing the extent of the slaughter, he said, because many of the people he knows who have died in bombings have not been able to get to a hospital or a morgue.
Deliberately leaving Palestinian lives out of a congressional resolution, or suggesting that the numbers from Gaza can’t be trusted because Hamas runs the Ministry of Health, riggs those numbers. In fact, it likely makes the situation on the ground considerably worse, giving the IDF a sense of impunity that comes from dismissing the deaths as a Hamas conspiracy or fake news.
You can listen to the interview here.