The events of 7th October was met by a total shock from the international community including Western officials and media, who apparently did not see any of this coming from an almost two decades of siege of more than 2 million people in an open-air prison marked as unliveable since 2020 by the UN. Ignoring this context, the international community inaccurately decided to view the starting point of this escalation as of October 7th, granting a green light for Israel to use its full power against the 2.2 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, almost half of whom are under 18. Talks about self-defence for Israel dominated the rhetoric of Western politics, with minimal consideration for human lives and adherence to the rules of armed conflict, let alone the 56-year belligerent occupation and 16-year siege of Gaza. This constitutes a fundamental flaw in the appraisal of these events, and, consequently, the ability to address their root causes, as subtly alluded to by the UN Secretary-General during his recent address to the Security Council. This deviation from the western narrative, unsurprisingly, provoked Israel’s vehement protest, for this narrative contradicts the dehumanizing rhetoric that Israel relies upon to justify its genocidal actions.
The lessons of the Holocaust were meant to serve as safeguards against state violence and genocide, particularly for vulnerable groups like the Palestinians. What we are witnessing today, however, is an unprecedented global dehumanization campaign against Palestinians, pushing their narratives, experiences, and histories to the margins. Historically, the initiation of such campaigns has often been a precursor to genocide. Therefore, it is imperative to restore the Palestinian people humanity, recognize their shared history and rights, as a people, and put an end to the unfolding genocide happening before our eyes.
We are witnessing a rapidly growing anti-Palestinian sentiment not only in Israel but also in many European countries, clearly visible in how the authorities are dealing with demonstrations and support for the Palestinian people. It is incumbent upon the international community to address this with the same vigour as anti-Semitism, recognising the dangerous consequences that these actions entail.
While the 1949 Geneva Conventions require all state parties “to respect and ensure respect” of these conventions in all circumstances, the Genocide Convention places a legal obligation on every member state to prevent and punish even the attempt to commit this heinous crime, without waiting for it to fully manifest—a grim reality that we are witnessing today.