Rafah raids: Israeli assault on the soul of humanity

(Dr Shujaat Ali Quadri)

The murderous march of the Israeli Defence Forces into Rafah refugee shelters has stirred worldwide outrage. First Israeli fighter jets bombarded the refugee camps and now its armoured tanks have ravaged the area on the Egyptian border under the guise of an alibi to crush Hamas’ remaining leadership. Sadly when the Arab world is drowsy, the world, especially young and students all across the globe, have surged calling for immediate pause to the genocide of innocent Palestinians who had nothing to do with Hamas’ combative conflict with Israel but are bearing the brutal brunt of the military strikes.

It has to be noted that Rafah is in the “humanitarian zone” which even Israel had accepted at the beginning of the present conflict and its army had pushed Palestinians from other parts to assemble in Rafah.

Around one million people – many repeatedly displaced by shifting waves of the war – have fled the Israeli offensive in Rafah since early May only. Rafah borders Egypt which has kept its border sealed to fleeing Palestinians.

All conscience keepers of the world feel defrauded by the Israeli raids into Rafah, or the Israeli action against Hamas-ruled Gaza soon after October 7 attacks on Israeli cities. Barring US and European nations, the majority of world comity was against “collective punishment” on Palestinians. Last month, when Israel seemed to have achieved most of its military targets and even the US had voiced its staunchest opposition against action against Rafah refugee camps, hope of a possible truce was on the horizon.

The White House had even refused to supply weapons to Tel Aviv if it decided to go ahead with its sinister invasion to kill the displaced.
However, it was a bluff and it was exposed by none other than The New York Times in its investigative report. The bombs used in the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp for displaced people near Rafah on Sunday were made in the US, according to weapons experts and visual evidence reviewed by the newspaper, The New York Times report said.

Munition debris filmed at the strike location the next day was remnants from a GBU-39, a bomb designed and manufactured in the US, the NYT found.
The United Nations officials, whatever number of them are still active in Gaza, said that their activities were crippled by the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment. Such brazenness of the Israeli forces and duplicity of US President Joe Biden’s administration has given rise to widespread outcry.

UNSC Move Calling For Halt to Israeli Assault
The UN members scurried to action On Wednesday to force-halt the Israeli offensive. A draft resolution presented by Algeria to the UN Security Council calls for an “immediate cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip.

The draft resolution “decided that Israel, the occupying power, shall immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in Rafah,” according to the circulated document. The text “demanded an immediate cease-fire respected by all parties, and also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”
But, how the UNSC voted on the resolution was not clear till the writing of this piece. Plus, whatever the UN bodies decide, it has no bearing on Israel as no world power is willing to take punishing action against it.

Mounting Civilian Toll, Rising Protests
The Sunday attack on Rafah camp had killed 55 Palestinian civilians, and the majority of them were children. The gory images had flooded the social media, leading to pervasive grief and eruption of people’s anger against Israel and its backers.
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities around the world on Tuesday and Wednesday. In Britain, a large protest gathered in central London chanting, “Blood on your hands” and, “Stop arming Israel” not far from Downing Street and the prime minister’s residence. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully but officers arrested 40 people at a breakaway protest that obstructed a highway, according to the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday.

Similarly, hundreds of demonstrators gathered near the White House for “an emergency rally for Rafah”. Around 200 people joined the “Urgent action for Rafah” demonstration and clashed with riot police when they were prevented from marching towards the Israeli embassy.

There were reports of protesters hitting streets from almost all continents of the world.

Protests at American and European universities against the Israeli action have already grabbed headlines and attention of the youth worldwide. These protests continue in various ways despite threats to the careers of students. As the pictures and videos of Israeli atrocities in Rafah are reaching these campuses, students started registering their voices anew. Convocation ceremonies of several such universities are witnessing dramatic scenes where students unfurl the flag of Palestine and chant slogans in favour of peace before accepting or even rejecting their degrees.

Rafah has aggravated this movement. On Tuesday and Wednesday, students in various universities of South Africa and Turkiye rose up in protests and called their governments to abandon all ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, Norway, Spain and Ireland formally recognised Palestine as a state on Tuesday, in a decision that seeks to correct history of years of injustice meted out to Palestinians. This injustice is being enacted in the cruelest forms daily after October 7 Hamas attacks, and the soul of the world is bleeding.

If the student protests are able to awaken the conscience of those who can bend Israel, it will be a watershed in the history of peaceful protests. Or, unfortunately, the bloodshed will prevail.

(The Author is the Chairman of the Muslim Students Organisation of India)

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