Israel is planning on carrying out a genocide in Gaza.
The motions have been underway for days, as Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on earth.
In six days, Israel has dropped 6,000 bombs on the besieged coastal enclave, which is home to 2.3 million Palestinians. Half of them are children. This falls just short of the highest number of bombs dropped by the U.S. in a year in the war on Afghanistan.
Over the past week, Israel has dropped internationally-prohibited white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza. It’s leveled entire residential neighborhoods. Wiped out families off the population registry, and killed more than 1,500 Palestinians. A third of the death toll are children.
Palestinians have been screaming at the top of their lungs for days that Israel is carrying out a genocide on them. Israeli leaders have only supported those fears, calling Gazans “human animals” and pledging to “wipe Hamas off the face of the earth.”
Today, everyone’s worst fears were confirmed.
On Friday, October 13, Palestinians in Gaza woke up to the news that the Israeli army was demanding that the more than 1.1 million Palestinians who live in the northern Gaza Strip “evacuate” to the southern part of the strip in the span of 24 hours.
Let that sink in. This is half of Gaza’s population. The northern part of Gaza includes Gaza City—the most densely populated area within the Gaza Strip. It also includes two of Gaza’s eight refugee camps, the Jabalia and al-Shati refugee camps. Both have been bombed over the past few days. Both are home to hundreds of thousands of refugees. They were made refugees by Israel, 75 years ago.
The Israeli military reportedly sent a direct warning to residents of Gaza City, who number around 750,000, ordering them to leave the city, as it plans to destroy what it claims is an “extensive infrastructure” of underground tunnels used by Hamas beneath the city.
But the United Nations said it received a different, much broader order, saying Israel was given 1.1 million civilians in northern Gaza 24 hours to flee south. A UN spokesman called the order “impossible” to achieve “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”
The Israeli army reportedly ordered Gazans not to return to the north until the army says they are allowed to go back.
But will they ever be allowed to go back? And will there even be a Gaza left to go back to?
No one knows what Israel’s plans are when the 24-hour deadline expires. Will they launch a ground invasion? Or will they simply pummel Gaza from the skies, as they have been doing for the past 16 years?
Whichever way Israel decides to go about it does not matter.
What matters is that Israel, with the support of the United States, is committing genocide right before our eyes. It has been ongoing, a slow genocide and ethnic cleansing, for 75 years.
75 years of global inaction and Israeli impunity have led to this moment. The moment where we see one of the most vulnerable populations on earth, 77% of whom are already refugees, being displaced as one of the world’s strongest military powers goes on a genocidal warpath.
Many Gazans are vowing to remain, saying they refuse to be displaced yet again. Many Palestinians are saying it’s psychological warfare, akin to the Zionist radio broadcasts of 75 years ago, that spread fear amongst the population and caused many to flee their homes out of fear of the Zionist atrocities that would await them if they stayed.
But the images are already flooding in as people in Gaza begin to flee their homes in fear of what comes.
Men, women, and children, walking through the rubble of their destroyed land, holding onto whatever bags and belongings they can carry. A march to the south, not knowing if tomorrow, the south will be next.
A death march.
Palestinians have said for 75 years, that the Nakba of 1948 never ended. It has continued for 75 years, every single day. In the crowded refugee camps of Gaza, the alleyways of Jerusalem, the hills of Haifa, and the corners of Jenin.
But today feels different. As millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, ‘48, and across the diaspora watch their people in Gaza be expelled en masse while Israel destroys their homes and slaughters those who remain, the only words that people can muster, is “it’s happening again.”
A second Nakba.
Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss.