We must demand a ceasefire in Gaza now
Over the past month, the people of Gaza have been subjected to a rain of Israeli missiles, white phosphorous munitions, tank shells and other weapons. This on top of Israel’s closure of all borders with the territory designed to cut off all water, food and electricity to Gazans, half of whom are children. The death toll is growing day-by-day in the territory of 2.2 million people, nearly three quarters of them refugees whose families were driven from their homes in Palestine in Israel’s 1948 land grab. The Gaza Health Ministry has reported more than 10,000 Palestinians, two-thirds women and children, have died and more than 1.4 million people in Gaza have fled their homes.
Despite Israel’s assertions to the Western media that its latest bombardment of the densely packed cities and refugee camps in Gaza is aimed solely at eradicating the Hamas soldiers who on Oct. 7 broke out of the territory human rights groups have characterized as the largest open-air prison in the world and initiated a military action in which 1,400 Israelis were killed, increasingly the international community is viewing Israel’s actions as genocide.
Yet our elected leaders in the United States have steadfastly refused to call for a ceasefire, instead appealing to the Israeli government to pause fighting long enough to let a trickle of aid into the territory whose borders Israel has tightly controlled since 1967. Just 18 members of Congress have signed onto a “Ceasefire Now” resolution authored by representatives Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Summer Lee and Delia Ramirez — all 18 of them people of color, including Ayanna Pressley. Although 412 members of Congress supported a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel while it “defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas,” not a single white representative would support a ceasefire — a call supported by 120 United Nations members, with the U.S. among the 14 nations voting against it.
Over the last 10 years, a growing coalition of human rights groups, including several Israeli groups, have seen Israel’s systematic expropriation of Palestinian lands, restrictions on their freedom of movement, targeted killings and arbitrary arrests and imprisonment as a system of apartheid. In the last month many of those same groups have recognized Israel’s bombardment of one of the most densely populated places on earth as genocide. But President Biden’s response is to call on Congress to pony up $14 billion to send Israel more weapons. Biden’s justification is the same tired trope Congress has called on to voice support for Israel: its right to defend itself against Hamas.
But is eradicating Hamas really Israel’s goal? After all, the Israelis have bombed Gaza nine times since 2005, and Hamas has only gotten stronger. Hamas isn’t really Israel’s target. The people of Gaza are. As Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told the news media, “We are dropping hundreds of bombs on Gaza. The focus is on destruction, not accuracy.”
The people of Gaza deserve a more courageous response from American elected officials. America is Israel’s closest ally. We provide $4 billion in military aid each year. We must demand a ceasefire immediately.
Tania Fernandes Anderson is a Boston city councilor who represents District 7 in Roxbury, Dorchester and part of the South End.