Israel ironically, rather stubbornly, rejected accusations of genocide in Gaza during a public hearing at the International Court of Justice on 12th January 2024. Israel claimed that the case filed by South Africa with the top UN court was a distortion of truth that amounted to smearing the facts. It also asserted that whatever it did was in self-defense in response to the attack by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7, 2023. There was no intention of ‘genocide’ against the Palestinian people, said Israel’s authorities.
On the other hand, different groups of peace activists from all over the world observed 13th January 2024 as a global day of action for Gaza. According to the Associated Press, thousands of demonstrators converged opposite the White House on 13th January to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza, while children joined a pro-Palestinian march through central London as part of a global day of action against the longest and deadliest war between Israel and Palestinians in 75 years.
On 14th January 2024, the Associated Press reported that people in the U.S. capital held aloft signs questioning President Joe Biden’s viability as a presidential candidate because of his staunch support for Israel in the nearly 100-day war against Hamas. Some of the signs read: ‘No votes for Genocide Joe’, ‘Biden has blood on his hands’, and ‘Let Gaza live’. France 24 said, “In Washington, large crowds waved Palestinian flags as the mostly young protesters — many wearing the traditional keffiyeh — gathered in a show of solidarity on the 99th day of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. ‘Cease-fire now’ people chanted, while carrying banners and posters that read ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘End the War on Gaza.’
On a stage a few blocks from the White House, several Palestinian-Americans — originally from Gaza, but now living in US states from Michigan to Texas — offered emotional accounts of friends and relatives killed or wounded in Gaza. Press TV reported on the observance of the Global Day of Action for Gaza in Jakarta, stating, “Thousands of members from the Muslim community gathered in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday to protest against ‘genocide’ in Palestine and express their support for the Palestinian people, marking a Global Day of Action for Gaza. Israel declared war on the group and made a ‘complete siege’ of Gaza, with a large-scale campaign of air strikes. Since the start of the aggression, Israel has killed more than 23,843 Palestinians, mostly women and children. Nearly 60,317 Palestinians have also been wounded, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.”
In short, it was a brave show all over the world against Israel’s brutality and the helplessness of the people of Palestine. Certainly, this all was against the expectations of the Israeli policy-makers. This reaction of all peace-lovers must have been very much alarming for those who are dreaming of wiping off the whole generation of Palestinians with the help of ruthless air strikes.
Gaza Strip is a 41 km long and almost 6 to 12 km wide small area with a total population of around 2 million Palestinians. It is said that this small area has one of the world’s highest population densities. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Gaza is a Muslim-majority area with a Palestinian Christian minority. Gaza’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, but at the same time, its population has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
The strip of Gaza has been facing a siege-like situation for the last many weeks. Before 2005, Gaza Strip was under Israel’s military control, but then on international pressure, Israel had to withdraw its forces from Gaza. However, the United Nations and different international human rights organizations regard the ‘Gaza Strip still to be under military occupation by Israel as Israel still maintains direct control over Gaza’s air and maritime space.’ The UNO still regards the Gaza Strip as an occupied territory. Presently, apparently this area is under the command of Hamas.
The basic purpose of the observance of the global day of action on 13th January was to highlight the worldwide condemnation of Israel’s atrocities in the Strip of Gaza. A permanent ceasefire and lifting up of the siege are the only steps that could bring an end to the slaughter in Gaza. Moreover, these steps would help more than 1.7 million Palestinians displaced from their native homes and who are facing grave danger of an outbreak of major epidemics. The motive behind this solidarity movement is to mobilize millions of people from all around the world to the streets and materialize this demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
The horrifying situation in Gaza is not very much different from the situation in the Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In reality, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been in a prison for a long time. India has deprived them of their basic human rights. They have no access to justice, the lives of their sons and daughters are in danger, their properties and businesses are at stake. They are continuously victimized and pressurized by the illegally deputed Indian troops. They have to face all that brutality just because they are demanding to exercise their fundamental right to self-determination.
Recently, just three weeks back, three Kashmiris were tortured to death while in army custody in Indian-occupied Kashmir. According to different media reports, the Indian army had arrested at least fifteen civilians a day ago for interrogation; three of them couldn’t bear the torture inflicted upon them by the Indian security officers and died in a nearby military camp. Mehbooba Mufti, who had been the 9th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 4 April 2016 to 19 June 2018, said condemning this brutality, “Had this happened under any other government, the media would have raised questions. They picked up 15 people from their homes who were tortured. Three of them have already been killed. So, how is this ‘Khushal’ Kashmir’ or ‘Naya Kashmir’ where neither Army-men nor common people are safe?” It is the need of the time that a collective voice must be raised against all oppressors.