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Bloody Thursday: The Hindu Editorial on Israel’s war and the situation in Gaza

In the early hours of February 29, Palestinians gathered in Gaza City on hearing that trucks carrying food deliveries were arriving. When they rushed towards the trucks, Israeli troops opened fire as they thought the hungry Palestinians “posed a threat”. Gaza’s health authorities say at least 112 Palestinians were killed and over 700 injured in the subsequent stampede, which triggered global outrage and calls for an international probe. This incident is a testimony to everything that went wrong with Israel’s brutal, indiscriminate attack on the defenceless Palestinians. The war, which started with Hamas’s October 7 attack in Israel, has already turned much of the Gaza Strip into a pile of rubble. Over 30,000 people, most of them women and children, have been killed and 70,000 wounded by Israeli troops. More than 90% of Gaza’s population of 2.4 million have been displaced. According to the UN World Food Programme, Gaza is suffering from the worst level of child malnutrition in the world and is headed towards famine. Most of the enclave’s population are crammed into the refugee camps of southern Gaza with hardly any essentials. The hospital system is on the verge of collapse. And the powerful nations are just watching as one of the deadliest man-made calamities of the 21st century is unfolding.

Israel has successfully turned Gaza into a bombed-out enclave of death, misery and hunger. But it is still far from meeting any of its objectives, which includes the “dismantling” of Hamas and the release of hostages. If international public opinion was largely in favour of Israel on October 7, today, there is a groundswell of anger against its conduct of the war. South Africa took Israel to the International Court of Justice accusing it of apartheid against Palestinians. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s President, says Israel is carrying out genocide. Several western cities have seen massive protests, though their governments remain spectators. Despite global anger, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet colleagues — some have made outrageous comments about expelling Palestinians from their territories — manage to continue the war without facing any real consequences mainly because of the support from the United States and the West. The Biden administration has repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council Resolutions that called for a ceasefire in Gaza and continues to supply weapons to Israel. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who once said his foreign policy would be centred around human rights, should give up this moral ambivalence and be ready to use real pressure on his closest ally. This war should be brought to end immediately and aid allowed into Gaza without any ifs and buts.

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