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Daily News Analysis

The flour massacre and Israel’s license to kill and maim

Iqbal Suleman

Gaza’s winter nights are dark and desolate.

An entire population under occupation is being starved.

Closed off from the rest of the world. Nothing can enter, no food or water.

Caged in a mass concentration camp, two million people are hungry and homeless.

More than 70% of the houses have been bombed and destroyed beyond repair.

This is collective punishment: denied water, electricity and food for five months.

Pangs of hunger fill the wretched air as it fuses with the stench of death from the dead bodies lying under the rubble in the grey Gaza cold winter night.

Men and women, children and grandparents,

all come out at the promise of food.

They have been surviving on eating grass and drinking contaminated water.

They are living like animals.

They queue up like humiliated slaves seeking crumbs from their zionist colonial masters.

The colonizers give them food as bait and then blast them with bullets at the same time.

The sound of gun shots, screams of horror and death.

Blood oozes out of starving brown bodies that haven’t eaten for a week.

One hundred and eighteen dead bodies lay strewn across the beach.

Red blood mixes with white flour.

This is the colour of genocide.

The waves echo a curse. The night darkens. It’s a massacre.

They call it the flour massacre.

In the midst of this massacre, the Palestinian bodies still seek out food while the Israeli occupation army fires bullets.

Imagine the level of starvation for a person to try to duck bullets to get some food.

Sixteen Palestinian babies have already died of starvation.

The UN and medical officials have seen a large number of gun-shot wounds that caused the deaths.

The head of the Gaza City Hospital has said that more than 80% of the wounds were the result of gun shots.

Dr Hussein Abu Sitta, the director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital said “All casualties admitted were hit by bullets and shrapnel from Occupation forces”.

The European Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor which is based in Gaza stated that Israeli military forces intentionally opened fire on the crowd of people struggling to get food.

It debunked the Israeli military spokesperson’s version who alleged that the killed were crushed in a stampede.

In the video clip released by the Israeli occupation force, the gunshot sounds are clearly audible.

The evidence thus far available corroborates the survivors’ eyewitness accounts that it was Israeli soldiers who intentionally shot them.

By the time of the night of the flour massacre, Palestinians were already dying of starvation. The spokesperson for the UN health agency Christian Lindmeier said on March 1, that “The official records yesterday or this morning said there was the tenth child officially registered in a hospital as having starved to death”.

He added that the actual number of Palestinian dead as a result of starvation will be much higher.

Most of the hospitals in Gaza are inaccessible. The majority would have died without going to hospital.

Their deaths will not have been recorded.

Israel has destroyed most of the hospitals in Gaza and the few that are open are not properly functional.

Even media outlets like CNN showed video footage on March 2 of a Palestinian doctor using a kitchen knife in his home kitchen performing an amputation without anaesthesia of a leg of a young Palestinian teenage girl.

Just the thought of it is excruciating.

If amputations are performed in home kitchens, there’s no chance a poor dehydrated person is going to get a drip in a hospital.

Why is the world shocked at this brazen and brutal massacre of poor Palestinians when Israel has all along been given a licence to kill, maim, starve and massacre?

The prime minister of zionist Israel invoked the verses of Amalek setting the scene for a scriptural justification to butcher every Palestinian, woman, man, child and the elderly.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said about the military operation at its inception “It’s time to be cruel”.

Israeli President Isaac Hertzog said that the civilian population cannot be separated from the military combatants.

All Palestinians are targets.

The Israeli War Minister Yoav Gallant said “no water, no electricity, no food, everything is closed.”

When leaders of the neo-Nazi zionist regime verbalized their genocidal intent, many of us warned at the very beginning of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, that Israel was manufacturing consent to massacre Palestinians and pursue a path of ethnic cleansing.

This is exactly how it played out and the US, the UK and the capitalist media played along with the Israeli script.

Israel bombed hospitals.

That should have been a red line.

But no, the mainstream media and the western powers provided cover for Israel and defended such Israeli barbarism.

Israel bombed residential areas, ambulances, mosques, museums and cultural centres, turning the whole of Gaza into ruin and rubble.

Israel deliberately targeted and killed women and children.

According to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, at least 25 000 women and children have been killed by Israel.

Even this large number of killings and war crimes was not enough for the US to support the UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

The western world has given Israel a licence to kill, maim and massacre Palestinians.

After Israel killed a more than 100 poor starving Palestinians queuing for food, the US could not even verbally condemn Israel.

The February 29 massacre was not the first time that Israeli soldiers attacked a food convoy. They did the same on November 7, December 29, January 25 and the February 5.

On January 25, 20 food seekers were killed and 50 wounded.

There were no Hamas fighters at the scene of the flour massacre.

You can’t blame crossfire.

The Palestinians were all hungry people queuing for food.

How do you spin yourself out of this massacre? We have already seen the Israeli occupation army’s version change a few times from Palestinians dying as a result of a stampede to Israeli troops being threatened by starved Palestinians approaching Israeli soldiers.

The world has become accustomed to this hasbara since the zionist occupation army assassinated Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akhleh.

Currently the media is ablaze with US airdrops of food aid by parachute after the flour massacre.

These airdrops are for public relations purposes only.

Scott Paul of Oxfam said “Oxfam does not support US airdrops in Gaza which would mainly serve to relieve the guilty conscience of senior US officials whose policies are contributing to the ongoing atrocities and risks of famine.”

Scott Paul is being incredibly generous when he presumes that senior US officials have a conscience.

The food air dropped would not fill even one truck.

Gaza needs at least 400 trucks of food aid a day.

Israel is refusing to allow any food into Gaza. After October 7, the US deployed its military equipment and personnel in the Middle East.

But it won’t use any force to ensure food enters Gaza.

because Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war and a bargaining chip to maximise its gains in any ceasefire agreement and the US is complicit in siding with the Israelis.

People of the world are not fooled and are chanting in the streets in many cities: "Ceasefire Now! Open the Eretz and all Gaza border crossings now! No more war!

"All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance!

"No Pause! Complete ceasefire and end to war! You can stick your parachute aid up your…”

“Ceasefire now”!

Iqbal Suleman is a social justice lawyer and former head of the law clinic for Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria.

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