Is Israel committing genocide in Palestine?

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A photo of eight students holding up a sign that says ‘Free Palestine’ in two rows and contains an image of the Palestinian flag beside ‘Free’ and a blood red hand on the top right corner.
Despite what some say, this is not a call to kill Jewish people. lee lim

Looking at the definition? Yes. 

Genocide is a heavy word. When we think about genocide, it can feel like something from the past: the Holocaust, Rwanda, the residential school system. But, if I told you that there was a genocide happening right now in Palestine, would you believe me? 

When we talk about genocide, it’s not just something that happens all at once. A genocide doesn’t start with the snap of your fingers. It takes time. There are ten stages of genocide, which don’t even need to happen in this order. 

Stage one is classification. Separating people into “us” and “them.” Israel’s start of classifying Palestine as different didn’t start this year, it started in 1949 following the end of the Arab-Israeli war where Israel fought against the Arab League. The Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement of Feb. 24, 1949, did not include Palestine or their All-Palestine Government of the time.  

By the end of that war, Israel had more land than they started with, Jordan had the West Bank, and Egypt was controlling the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians in it. It wouldn’t be until the mid 1990’s that Palestine was able to regain control over Gaza. 

Information about step two, symbolization, in regards to Israel and Palestine is murky, so I’m just going to jump over to step three: discrimination.  

Even though at the time, Palestine was supposed to be leaders of the Gaza Strip, in 2005, Israel had power over their imports. Israel was working to stop Gaza getting what they needed according to the Geneva Convention. They were discriminating against the rights that Palestinians had. Despite needing to supply Palestinians, Israel didn’t.  

They stopped aid convoys and emergency relief. This information is from reports from 2009. Israel was stopping aid from reaching Gaza in 2009. So many human rights violations have been committed by Israel against Palestinians including, “the right to life, the right to adequate food and housing, the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health which also includes the right to water; and the right to education.” 

Step four of genocide is dehumanization. Treating the other group as less than human. In early October, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli Defense Minister, stated about Palestinians: “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.” Simply put, Israel does not treat Palestinians like people. 

Step five is organization. A militia to enforce the genocide. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was formed in 1948, the same year of the Arab-Israeli War which Palestine fought in. The IDF has been fighting Palestine since the 1940s. Multiple videos have been shared online of IDF soldiers bragging about killing children. 

Step six is polarization. Propaganda is common in this step. For months, Israel has been sharing online information to try and make the world believe they are in the right. According to a document released by the CIA, Israel is purposefully trying to make themselves appear as an underdog because Americans are more likely to side with underdogs.  

This same document states that United States press does not report on Israel’s wrongdoings. Even looking at Israel’s social media, the videos they share are people singing, wearing signs that say Israelis have been massacred by Hamas even though at least 23,000 Palestinians have died since October 7 as of writing this article. 

Step 7, 8, 9 are preparation, persecution, and extermination. Palestinians are dying. They are being killed. They are being persecuted and exterminated. There are countless photos and videos of Palestinians holding their dead children and crying, trying to dig out lost ones in the rubble from Israeli bombs. There is no denying that Palestinians are being killed en masse by the IDF. 

Editor’s note: South Africa filed claims against Israel on Dec. 29, 2023, with the International Court of Justice, accusing them of genocide, with 84 pages of proof. Instead of presenting actual arguments or proof that what they are doing is not what they are accused of, Israel’s team attempted to undermine the credibility of the court, of South Africa’s team, and of Palestinians’ rights to human rights.  

In their attempts to do so, they created notable contradictions within their own talking points. At the end of the case, South Africa’s representatives requested Israel be held accountable to uphold their prior agreement to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, among other similar things.  

Israel’s team’s response? Essentially, “Hey, don’t make us do that. Also, take this case off the record.” 

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