The Tent Massacres in Rafah
May 29 2024
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For the third time since the genocide in Gaza began, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has called on Israel to cease its offensive in Rafah. Gaza’s southernmost city was invaded by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) earlier in May after months of being designated as a so-called “safe zone” for over a million forcibly displaced Palestinians. 

On Sunday, May 26, Israel dropped at least eight missiles on a tent camp located near an UNRWA warehouse in Rafah in Tal as-Sultan area. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 45 Palestinians were killed in the attack and 249 individuals sustained injuries. The scenes coming out of Rafah were horrifying enough to rival the past eight months of genocide. Testimonies and videos of beheaded children and burned corpses quickly circulated on social media. One of the area's residents told Al Jazeera that “tents were melting and the people’s bodies [were] also melting.” Al Jazeera also reported that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that people were burned alive inside their tents. 

As the genocide wages on, every new assault on Gaza evokes the same reaction. Each atrocity is continuously labeled as the worst sight to be seen. And the media finds a way to justify such atrocities — The New York Times supported Netanyahu’s “tragic accident” excuse by bending over backward to supply readers with unchallenged Israeli official statements declaring that airstrikes were precise in their target, showing “maps” that the strike was “outside a designated humanitarian zone.” To The New York Times as to all Western mainstream media, there is always a justification for the killing of Palestinians. It went as far as The Atlantic publishing an article on May 17 suggesting that “it is possible to kill children legally.”  

Less than 24 hours after the attack on the camp, a new round of airstrikes pounded a nearby tent city, Al-Mawasi. The most recent attack killed at least 21 Palestinians, while severely injuring dozens more. 

At no other moment during the 21st century has the world witnessed a live-streamed, wide-scale genocide, while also having the politicians who are spearheading these crimes still feeling empowered to tell bald-faced lies. The Zionist entity’s modus operandi is to commit atrocities, assume responsibility, and then retract accountability once the majority of the public condemns its actions. We witnessed this exact blueprint with the Al-Ahli Hospital bombing back in October of 2023.

The latest Israeli attacks in Rafah have prompted global condemnation from governments and organizations alike. The region of Walloon in Belgium announced it is no longer allowing Israel to transport weapons through its territory, which includes refueling planes carrying weapons en route to the apartheid state at the Liège airport. The U.S.-based Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention recently put forth a statement about the ongoing genocide in Gaza, stating that this is an undeniable case of genocide, in which the U.S. and other Western nations are complicit.

The snail-like pace in which action against Zionism is occurring has simply been no match to the incredibly rapid and unending brutalization in Gaza. 

This leaves many wondering: how prepared was the world for a calamity of this magnitude? As analysts seek to comprehend what the U.S.-Israeli Occupation’s red line is when it comes to committing war crimes, the truth of the matter is that had there actually been an existing red line, then the situation in Gaza would have never gotten this far.

History shows us that genocide does not spawn haphazardly. Instead, it is the final stage of decades of dehumanization. Genocide only occurs once the world has deemed it to be acceptable. 

After the first tent massacre, the medical staff at Emirati Hospital in Rafah held a press conference, stating that the attacks were in clear retaliation to the ICJ ruling made days before. It is apparent that the Israeli regime views any ruling as a joke, and increases the brutalization of Palestinians tenfold to spite anyone who criticizes their actions. 

Ali Abunimah, director of the Electronic Intifada, tweeted: “The genocidal Zionist enemy has already responded by escalating its airstrikes on Rafah, according to Al Jazeera. There must be total isolation and punishing global sanctions to deprive the regime of the means it needs to continue the genocide.” 

Over the past 236 days, over 36,000 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel, with over 81,000 severe injuries, including amputations, blindness, and paralysis. Thousands more are missing, presumed dead under the rubble. Over 1.8 million Palestinians have been displaced, marking this to be the largest Palestinian exodus in history. Hospitals, bakeries, schools, aid distribution sites, and tents have all been targets of the IOF’s genocidal campaign. As Palestinians have been reiterating for the last eight months, there is no safe place in Gaza.

About The Author: 

Asma Barakat holds an MA in Sociology from The New School and a BA in Political Science from Montclair State University. She is the co-creator of an oral history archive titled Rooted in Palestine. She is also a fellow with the Institute for Palestine Studies.

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