When Does It Become Genocide?
By Nadia Hijab, Counterpunch, Jan. 5, 2010
During a visit to Ramallah a year ago while the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was underway, I shared my fears with a close Palestinian friend. “It may sound insane, but I think the Israelis’ real objective is to see them all dead.”
My friend told me not to be silly, the assault was horrific, but it was not mass killing. I said that wasn’t the issue: This was a population already very vulnerable to disease, ill-health, and malnutrition after years of siege, with its infrastructure rotted, its water and food contaminated. Israel’s war would surely push the people over the brink, especially if the siege was maintained — as it has been.
In other words, Israel would not directly kill tens of thousands of Palestinians, but it would create the conditions for tens of thousands to die. Any epidemic could finish the job. My friend fell silent at these words, but still shook his head in disbelief.
Two things have changed since last year: More people have started to apply the term “genocide” to what Israel is doing to Gaza. And not only is Israel being directly accused but also, increasingly, Egypt.