• 18 Jun, 2024

Collateral massacre in Nuseirat

Collateral massacre in Nuseirat

In another Israeli massacre in Gaza, Palestinians were killed en masse and then unceremoniously erased from history.

Belen Fernández (Al Jazeera columnist)

On June 8, Israeli forces raided the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, massacring at least 274 Palestinians and wounding nearly 700. Various parts of the international community responded with a classic and ineffectual hand-wringing. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned Israel's recent "massacre of civilians" and declared that "the massacres must stop immediately."

The attack also freed four Israeli prisoners from Hamas custody, sparking a flurry of self-congratulation and genocide fanfare on Israeli social media. The internet is filled with sensationalized reports of rescues and tearful reunions between prisoners and their loved ones, while all the Palestinians who died are forgotten. Indeed, the blatant disregard for Palestinian life is not all that shocking, given the war that has officially claimed more than 37,000 lives in Gaza in just over eight months. The actual death toll is undoubtedly much higher, given the number of bodies remaining under the rubble.

 Palestinians are not humanized in the Israeli narrative, except, of course, when they are used for propaganda purposes, such as when Israel accuses Hamas of using Palestinian civilians as "human shields," thereby justifying Israeli military attacks on hospitals and schools.

A look at previous episodes of the ongoing Israeli "bloodshed" in Gaza seems to confirm that, according to Israeli military logic, the deaths of over 200 Palestinians are perfectly acceptable "collateral damage" in the rescue of the four surviving Israelis. Finally, the disproportionate value placed on Israeli lives is intended to distract from the fact that Israel kills astronomically more Palestinians than Palestinians kill Israelis – yet Israelis remain the self-proclaimed “victims”. Take, for example, Operation Cast Lead, launched by Israel in Gaza in December 2008. Over 22 days, the operation killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including 400 children. On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and 3 civilians died.

In 2014, Israel’s 50-day “Operation Protective Edge” reduced Gaza’s population by 2,251 people, including 551 children, while Israel lost 67 soldiers and 6 civilians.

The higher value of Israeli life has been demonstrated time and again in prisoner exchanges. In 2011, captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released by Hamas in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Now, the Nuseirat massacre is not just another milestone in Israel’s quest to accustom the world to unbridled depravity. This also symbolizes Israel's efforts to make Palestinians disappear, both literally and figuratively, as the victims of Saturday's attack were virtually swept away by cheering crowds.

Let's call it collateral slaughter.

After the attack, the Israeli military made a barrage of posts on social media that made no mention of Palestinian casualties and included persuasive analysis such as that the prisoners were being held by "Hamas terrorists whose sole purpose is to inflict pain and suffering."

The Jerusalem Post even went so far as to complain about Arab social media users trying to put Israel in a bad mood. The paper noted that "Israel's heroic operation, which led to the release of the four hostages, sparked a fierce online debate," complaining that "some Hamas supporters have tried to downplay the importance of the operation by accusing Israel of humanitarianism, attacking the area (around Nuseirat) or claiming that the world is ignoring the estimated death toll of Gazans." US President Joe Biden, one of the world's greatest architects, praised the return of the four prisoners at a press conference in Paris, adding that "we will not stop until all the hostages are back and there is a ceasefire."
 This leads us to ask: How can a ceasefire be achieved, and in Borrell's words, "bloodshed" be prevented, when the US President himself is essentially praising Israel for causing that massacre?

Just a month ago, Biden warned that he would not provide Israel with offensive weapons if an all-out attack on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip were to take place, because "civilians are being killed in Gaza as a result of these attacks. Bombs." Nevertheless, it suddenly becomes meaningless that civilians continue to be killed, because the issue is all about the prisoners.

Just three days ago, on June 6, an Israeli attack on a UN-run school in the Nuseirat camp killed at least 40 Palestinians held there. Al Jazeera's analysis of the weapon fragments revealed that they were US-made parts. Biden's warning seems to have been caught out as well. Or perhaps genocide has become completely normalized.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of VoU.