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Get Out, You Animals, Get Out: We Are Humans, Starved

The grotesque madness of history’s first live-streamed genocide persists as Israel daily commits acts once unimaginable. They are bombing hospitals, shooting doctors, forcing Palestinian prisoners to issue evacuation orders before murdering them, sta…

The grotesque madness of history's first live-streamed genocide persists as Israel daily commits acts once unimaginable. They are bombing hospitals, shooting doctors, forcing Palestinian prisoners to issue evacuation orders before murdering them, starving women and children before targeting them as they scavenge for grass, leaves, animal feed, terrorizing civilians desperately fleeing first south, then north when in truth "there is no sanctuary." And still - what the ever-loving-fuck - America keeps sending arms.

The numbers stun. The total of Palestinians killed nears 30,000, including at least 13,000 children; almost 70,000 wounded; at least 8,000 more unaccounted for and presumed dead, now decomposing, under rubble. Hundreds more have been shot in random violence in the West Bank. Every day sees "an undetermined number" of more dead or wounded. And a heedless Netanyahu repeats his savage, hollow, phantasmagoric edict, "We will continue to fight until total victory" even in the face of furious global condemnation, a Hague ruling confirming genocidal acts, and more reports from both Israeli and U.S intelligence that Israel is "not close to eliminating" Hamas, which regardless will survive as "a terror group and a guerrilla group.” At this weekend's Munich Security Conference in Germany, Israeli's coordinator for the so-called effort to return captives declared Israel and Hamas remain far apart on ceasefire negotiations because "Hamas' demands are disconnected from reality - delusional." Mournful pot/kettle.

This week, after days of shelling, Israeli ground forces attacked Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the largest of Gaza's few hospitals still functioning, where conditions were already "catastrophic." Word that hundreds of exhausted staff, critically wounded patients and about 10,000 Palestinians sheltering there would be forced to flee posed what Doctors Without Borders called "an impossible choice" - stay and become potential targets or leave "into an apocalyptic landscape" of bombings, snipers and dead bodies. The IDF promised a "precise and limited mission" and "secure passage." But surviving staff described panicked, pushing, screaming people who, once they left, were often shot at within the gates; many of those who reached checkpoints beyond were arrested, and the hospital was quickly stormed by soldiers shooting and police dogs. Video inside shows a chaotic hellscape of smoke and noise, with staff frantically trying to roll bedridden patients to safety and shouting, "Gunfire, gunfire! Heads down, everyone!"

Palestinian officials reported the deaths of at least six patients in intensive care and three in the children's nursery; most died of lack of oxygen after an Israeli-imposed power shortage. Video shows staff scrambling to treat a bloodied doctor shot in the chest by a sniper through a window of the operating room, and two women were said to have given birth in "abhorrent conditions, without electricity, water, food, or heat." Amidst the sound of gunfire, staff reported bodies lying outside in the courtyard where over a dozen people have been shot, or left in the street after trying to get to shelter. "We can see from the hospital a lot of dead bodies...and cats and dogs around these bodies." The Israeli military, who refused WHO entry, said they captured "dozens of terror suspects" in the assault, claims Hamas refuted as "lies to justify war crimes." Before they entered, video from Palestinian journalist Mohammed El Helou shows, IDF soldiers manning bulldozers outside yelled through loudspeakers, "Get out, you animals! Get out!"

One of just two remaining journalists at Nasser, El Helou reported having seen Jamal Abu Al-Ola, a young wide-eyed Palestinian, arrive at the entrance dressed n white PPE, his hands bound in front of him. Abu Al-Ola had evidently tried to leave the hospital earlier when Israeli soldiers seized him, beat him, and sent him back in to tell those remaining they had to leave the hospital "because they are going to blow it up." After he relayed the evacuation order, El Helou said, Abu Al-Ola'a mother, also sheltering there, begged him not to go back out, but he said soldiers had told him he must or the civilians would be in danger. Video by Mohammad Salama, the other journalist there, shows Abu Al-Ola walking out with several people who then trail away; when he is still inside the gates, he is shot three times in the chest by an Israeli soldier. (An IDF spokesman later said "the incident in question (is) being reviewed.") El Helou ended his video quietly noting people were leaving "in search of safety that does not exist in Gaza."

Shortly after, two Israelis were killed and four wounded at a bus stop when a Palestinian attacker arrived in a car and opened fire; he was shot and killed by an IDF soldier. An almost gleeful Netanyahu used the incident to again reject the nation of a ceasefire - "Now is not the time to be speaking about gifts for the Palestinian people" - and argue, "The entire country is a front and the murderers, who come not only from Gaza, want to kill us all." His rabid rhetoric was echoed by former Mossad official Rami Igra, who both repeated and wildly inflated the genocidal claim of President Herzog that there are “no uninvolved (civilians) in Gaza." "Every house in Gaza is a Hamas HQ, weapons, Al Aqsa, everything, all the signs are there," Igra said in an interview. "In Gaza, everyone is involved. Everyone voted Hamas. Anyone over the age of four is a Hamas supporter." When the not-quite-yet-Nazi interviewer clarified that perhaps kids under four could be deemed innocent, a big-hearted Igra agreed, albeit reluctantly.

Still, America is obscenely, reportedly preparing to send Israel more genocidal weaponry, including a thousand each of MK-82 500-pound bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), without which Israel might have to curtail its slaughter in 19 weeks. The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill excoriates Biden for refusing to "use his leverage as Israel’s arms dealer," evidently because, "There is no Israeli war crime too extreme for (him) to consider pausing," never mind ending, the flow of weapons. Besides timid ceasefire requests to his "great, great friend" Netanyahu, Biden and his spin doctors merely issue "occasional public platitudes" about Gaza's suffering, and gently denounce Israeli attacks as not quite "surgical" enough. It didn't help that on Super Bowl night, as Israel launched its "next stage of genocide" with air strikes on Rafah, a "night full of horror" that killed over 70 - "there were a lot of body parts," said one hospital - Biden released one of his jokey Dark Brandon memes ripped as "tone-deaf to the cries of humanity."

Meanwhile, the mournful, bloody evidence of Israel's less-than-precise campaign of annihilation is everywhere in Gaza. Along with its murder of journalists, doctors, aid workers, grandmothers "older than Israel" and academics in a place with one of the world's highest literacy rates to "inflict maximum damage on the Palestinian community," there are, of course, the children. Perhaps 20,000 children, many wounded, who've been orphaned; up to ten a day losing limbs to massive injuries from air strikes; an entire young population of over a million, already emotionally battered by years of violence, facing more trauma "beyond their age and endurance," needing support scarce at best. And, now, children homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick, so famished they go scouring for food under skies full of Israeli planes. Hit by bombs, they lie at one hospital wounded, bandaged, spectrally skinny, faces blurred. "Our children are dying," says one father. "No one is helping us...But they are children just like any other child in the world."

In Rafah, a "25-square-mile death cage" where 1.5 million Palestinians have fled and are trapped, people are "desperate, hungry and terrified." Having been told by Israel to "evacuate" to the south, "Rafah is as far south as anyone can go - they have nowhere else to evacuate to." A reported Israeli ground assault looms; so does starvation. With Israel using hunger as a weapon and blocking most aid, rights groups say “every single person in the Territory is now experiencing extreme levels of hunger." Hungry children fight over stale bread, walk and scavenge for hours, cry dazed in the rain until, given a can, they retreat to their tent.People often block the rare aid truck - twice a week, UNRWA tries to bring each 2 water bottles, three biscuits, an occasional can of food - and devour what they find. Children suffer from diarrhea, turn yellow from malnutrition, wake up screaming for food; in the north, some go without food for days. One elderly man: "We live in complete hunger." One mother: "We are dying slowly." Another:"We are humans, starved."

People have resorted to grinding animal feed into flour, but supplies are dwindling. They are combing fields to eat grass, weeds, leaves. A daughter angrily notes, "We are eating leaves from the trees"; her mother mournfully adds there isn't even water to cook them. Some families have sought shelter if not food at empty farms outside Rafah, turning chicken cages into children's beds; from the cages - "they are very cold and dark at night" - kids can see the border where Egypt is ominously building an enclosed refugee camp. Others who've moved "from one place to another like chess pieces" are leaving Rafah - "We eat grass and drink polluted water" - to return north to bombed-out homes. Months ago, Abu Ahmed Jaber pulled his pregnant daughter and her one-year-old from the rubble; they fled south to a packed U.N. school with no food, water, toilets; now they're back in the ruins of the house "I built with my hands, stone by stone." At night, unable to sleep, he cries, asking, "What have I and my family done?" Nothing, just like the 66 Palestinians most recently killed by Israel in "a very bloody day." How many, we wonder, were children.

The Poem

by Lisa Suhair Majaj

The poem was found in the rubble
of a six-story residential building
in Khan Yunis, destroyed by a 2000
pound bomb that sent fire to the sky
and death to the burning earth.

The poem was alive, but bloodied
beyond recognition, trapped
beneath heavy chunks of concrete.
The blast had severed its legs and arms.
The poem could not move.
It could not reach out to rescuers.
It could not find its wounds.

The poem’s face was unrecognizable.
A deep gash across its forehead
revealed the bone within.
The poem’s eyes were filled with blood.
It could not see. The poem’s mouth
was a gaping wound. When it tried
to scream, no sound came out.

The rescuers knew it was important
to save the poem. They dug frantically
with bare hands in the debris, begging
the poem to hold on. When they finally
extracted it from the rubble, passing it
hand to hand to the waiting stretcher,
watchers erupted with joy. The poem
was alive, was returned to its people!

Later, in the hospital, the poem lay
on the bloodied ground, listening
to the screams of children undergoing
amputations without anesthetic,
to the wails of mothers clutching
the bodies of babies to their chests,
refusing to allow them to be taken
to the refrigerated ice cream trucks,
pleading that it was too cold there,
that they could not leave them alone,
that the children would be frightened.

The poem tried to move its absent legs,
its arms, to sense what was left.
It understood that something
had been irrevocably ripped away.
That even if it lived, there were things
it would never do again. The poem
closed its eyes and tried to imagine
a body of light filling the gaping absence
where its limbs used to be.

The poem’s pain was beyond anything
it had experienced before. It tried
to imagine its mouth moving without
pain, tried to imagine a voice emerging
from the bloodied crevice of its jaw,
wondered if it would ever speak again.

The poem wanted it all to stop—
the enormous pain, the cries
of anguish, the echo of how
it had sounded when the bomb
hit with its unimaginable fury,
how it felt when walls crashed down
like the hand of death.

Just then aid workers brought in
a wounded child, laying it
on the floor nearby. The child
was covered in blood, screaming
for its mother. The poem
lay there listening. Slowly
it mustered every bit of strength
it had, and began to hum.
It couldn’t get a voice out;
This was the best it could do.

The child’s whimpers subsided
a little, and it turned its face toward
the sound. The poem realized
that even without arms or legs,
even with its face practically torn off,
it still had a job to do. The poem
searched inside itself for the body
of light that had stayed with it
in the rubble, the body of light
it could barely imagine.

Exhausted but determined, the poem
continued to hum. It was difficult,
but better than staying silent. The poem
thought to itself that later on, when
it could manage, it would try to sing
a lullaby, something to comfort the children
whose light still shone in their bodies, who
would need some kind of music to survive.

Copyright 2024 Lisa Suhair Majaj

Lisa Suhair Majaj is a Palestinian-American writer living in Cyprus.

This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by Abby Zimet.

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