Collateral genocide in Nuseirat

In yet another Israeli massacre in Gaza, Palestinians are killed en masse and then summarily erased from the story.

Palestinians walk on the rubble of destroyed buildings following an assault by the Israeli army on the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on 8 June 2024

Belén Fernández writes in Al Jazeera on 9 Jun 2024:

On June 8, the Israeli military slaughtered at least 274 Palestinians and wounded nearly 700 more in a raid on the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Concerned sectors of the international community responded with typical ineffectual handwringing; the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the latest Israeli “massacre of civilians”, declaring that “the bloodbath must end immediately”.

Four Israeli captives held by Hamas were also rescued during the assault, which has sent Israeli social media into a jubilant tizzy of self-congratulation and genocidal fanfare. The internet is awash with sensational accounts of the rescue and the captives’ weepy reunification with loved ones – and never mind all those dead Palestinians.

Indeed, the blatant disregard for Palestinian life is hardly shocking in the context of a war that has officially killed more than 37,000 people in Gaza in just over eight months. The actual death toll is without a doubt far higher given the number of bodies remaining under the rubble.  Not that Palestinians have ever been humanised in the Israeli narrative – except, of course, when they can be exploited for propaganda purposes, like when Israel accuses Hamas of using Palestinian civilians as “human shields” and thereby justifies Israeli military attacks on hospitals and schools.

A glance at past episodes from Israel’s perpetual “bloodbath” in Gaza would seem to confirm that, as per Israeli military logic, 200-plus dead Palestinians is perfectly acceptable “collateral damage” in the recuperation of four live Israelis. After all, Israeli life is endowed with a disproportionate worth that works to distract from the fact that Israel kills Palestinians at an astronomically higher rate than Palestinians kill Israelis – who nonetheless remain the self-appointed “victims” throughout it all.

Recall Operation Cast Lead, for example, which Israel launched in Gaza in December 2008 and which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians over a period of 22 days, the vast majority of them civilians and 400 of them children. On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and three civilians were killed.

Then 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 six civilians.

In prisoner exchanges, too, the superior value accorded to Israeli life has been displayed time and again; in 2011, captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released by Hamas in exchange for no fewer than 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Now, the slaughter in Nuseirat is not only the latest milestone in Israel’s quest to inure the world to unrestrained depravity. It also symbolises Israeli efforts to disappear the Palestinians both literally and figuratively, as the victims of Saturday’s raid are effectively erased via the celebratory ruckus.

Call it collateral genocide.

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