‘From Here, from Gaza’ – Enough, Stop the Genocide Now

Is the ICJ's ruling enough for Palestinians? (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Shahd Safi – Gaza

From here, from Gaza, the quest for evidence of Israel’s genocide looks like a futile exercise. Don’t we have all the evidence of our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, to say ENOUGH! STOP NOW?

For decades now, we Palestinians have realized that the closest parallel to the way we have been treated for 75 years is the apartheid regime in South Africa –a racialized system of segregation and exclusion that stripped people of economic opportunity, freedom of movement and expression, self-determination, dignity and often life itself, based on the color of their skin.

Sure, there are some differences between the South African and Palestinian experiences. For example, in the case of Palestinians, the genocidal war against us is not only based on ethnicity, but also on religion.

However, there are also many similarities, such as the extreme brutality of the police towards black South Africans, which can be compared to the brutality employed by Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians.

Thirty years ago, a widespread, global movement began to pressure the government of South Africa to end this unjust system. That movement eventually succeeded.

Therefore, we Palestinians appreciate that it was South Africa which brought the case before the International Court of Justice seeking to hold Israel accountable for its genocide against innocent Palestinians.

The ICJ provisional ruling of January 26 is also significant for us.

Israel has been ordered to do “everything within its power” to prevent genocidal acts; to immediately allow substantial humanitarian aid into Gaza; to punish those who incite violence against civilians; to keep records of infringements and consequences; and to report back in a month on steps taken to comply with all these directives.

However, we think it is still too little and it may also be too late.

The truth is, aside from the current atrocities taking place in Gaza and in the West Bank starting on October 7, Our entire history should be more than enough to make a case for the ICJ.

Genocide in Context

The court was asked to adopt provisional and urgent measures to avoid the risk of genocide. Words such as ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ have begun to emerge soon after Israel launched its brutal war on October 7.

Along with airstrikes and intense shelling, which have so far killed and wounded over 100,000 Palestinians in the besieged Strip, Israeli authorities have also imposed an even tighter siege on an already besieged enclave.

Per the words of Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, “no food, no water, no electricity” is allowed to enter Gaza.

Although the intensity of the current genocide is unprecedented, truth is, a campaign to ‘cleanse’ Palestine of its non-Jewish component began immediately after Israel declared statehood and has never ended since then.

Zionists colonized nearly 80 percent of what was the Palestinian land under British Mandate. In 1948, at least 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, over 500 Palestinian villages were obliterated, and 15,000 Palestinians killed outright in a series of massacres.

This calamity is what we call the Nakba – catastrophe in Arabic: the loss of our homes and land and the beginning of a cruel, unwanted diaspora for Palestinian people.

Then after the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and established a system of illegal military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Old laws were dug up to justify stealing Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Today, there are more than 150 illegal settlements and over 100 illegal outposts on Palestinian lands. These ‘facts on the ground’ are part of a long-running strategy of population transfer and ‘de facto annexation’ to establish Israeli hegemony over the entirety of Palestine.

Discriminatory laws meant only for Palestinians were issued by the Israeli military and remain in force to this day.

One such law, for example, allows the so-called administrative detention, the arrest and indefinite imprisonment without charge nor trial. Currently, thousands of Palestinians, including children, women and the elderly, are detained under this regime.

There are well over 7,000 Palestinians held illegally in Israeli prisons. Torture of prisoners during interrogations is a routine, and still goes unacknowledged in Israeli military or civilian courts.

Moreover, Israel intentionally divides the Palestinian population. The Separation Wall cuts off 10 percent of Palestinians from the rest of West Bank.

Although it was declared illegal by the ICJ and the UN General Assembly in 2003, Israel continued to act in violation of international law, and has never been held accountable for its actions.

Our daily life as Palestinians under Israeli occupation is a nightmare.

All Palestinians must carry identity cards, but their status is different depending on geography. Our freedom of movement is strongly limited in the West Bank and basically non-existent in Gaza.

Already Unlivable

The United Nations declared, in 2012 – far before the events of October 7 and the genocidal war that followed – that Gaza would have become an unlivable territory in 2020, due to the blockade, the restrictions, the repeated Israeli military operations.

Despite all of this, I live in the Gaza Strip, along with 2.3 million people, half of them children.

We live in 360 sq.km (18 sq. miles), in what is considered the largest open-air prison on the planet.

Most residents in Gaza are refugee families expelled from their villages during the Nakba of 1948.

In 2007, Israel imposed a harsh siege, severely restricted our travel and the flow of basic necessities. Long before the current catastrophe, Gaza was experiencing shortages in medicine and fuel and parts for essential repairs to dams and medical equipment.

Indeed, the seeds of genocide and ethnic cleansing were planted much farther back than October 2023.

Gaza has endured several intense Israeli attacks since 2008-09, and numerous violations of international law, including the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians; the use of starvation and dehydration as weapons; drowning crops; bombing civilian homes and hospitals; ethnic cleansing of entire neighborhoods; and use of internationally banned weapons like white phosphorus, which literally burns out people’s lungs.

There has never been any balance of power between the Israeli army and Palestinian freedom fighters, between the oppressor and the oppressed.

That is why, for us, even the concept of ceasefire is a misnomer: because it implies equality between the sides in a conflict.

The truth is that this relentless, murderous onslaught; this new, or rather cruelly ongoing, Nakba, is disproportionate beyond human comprehension.

From here, from Gaza, the quest for evidence of Israel’s genocide looks like a futile exercise. Don’t we have all the evidence of our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, to say ENOUGH! STOP NOW?

South Africa has offered us a glimmer of hope. The ICJ must ignite the fire of truth from that glimmer for the survival of our people.

– Shahd Safi is a Gaza-based freelance translator and writer for We Are Not Numbers. WANN contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out