Trapped people in Gaza beg for warnings before they are bombed
Palestinians rescue a young girl from the rubble of a destroyed residential building following an Israeli airstrike, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. | Fatima Shbair / AP

Mosques full of people hiding for safety are bombed and collapse on top of the civilians inside. Hospitals in which life support and dialysis machines have already been shut down because Israel has cut off the supply of electricity and even the fuel needed for emergency generators are also bombed, while people hiding from the warplanes huddle in the hallways inside. Red Crescent Centers and ambulances making their way with the wounded toward those centers are also bombed. Schools that the U.N. runs for Palestinian refugees are bombed too.

It’s all part of the ongoing siege of Gaza announced by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Ministry. It’s all part of what is rapidly becoming an unprecedented humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip.

Whole families have died in their homes during the raids, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel says the horror unfolding in Gaza is in response to attacks on Saturday when hundreds of Hamas gunmen broke through the steel fence with which Israel hems in the Gazans, killing more than 1,000 Jewish residents of nearby towns and taking some 150 hostages, among them children.

After the brutal attacks, Israel’s Defense Minister then declared what he called “a complete siege of Gaza,” saying that all food, water, electricity, and fuel were now cut off for the civilians walled inside.

In one departure from its hesitancy to report on the suffering of the Palestinian community, the New York Times on Wednesday quoted a 25-year-old Palestinian woman who had fled to one of the bombed hospitals, the Al Shifa hospital, before it was attacked. “What they [the Israeli warplanes] are doing,” she said, “should not be allowed,” as she cradled her one-week-old baby. Since the baby was only four days old, she and 19 of her relatives slept in the hospital courtyards. On Tuesday, it came under attack, with buildings around it reduced to rubble.

Volker Tuck, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the bombing of hospitals. The Gaza health ministry has said that at least nine ambulances have been destroyed in the raids since Sunday.

Gaza is perhaps the most densely populated place on Earth, with more than two million people living in the tiny coastal strip. It is commonly referred to as an “open-air prison.”

On Monday, telephone and internet service was shut down by Israel in much of the territory.

Even as it wages war against Palestinians in Gaza, the Israeli military also continues to rain down destruction on Lebanon. Here, Israeli tanks are seen stationed near the border with Lebanon, Oct. 11, 2023. Lebanon’s National News Agency says Israeli shelling of southern Lebanese villages has wounded three civilians and damaged about 10 homes. The agency said the shelling hit the villages of Marwaheen and Duhaira. | Ariel Schalit / AP

Gaza has no bomb shelters into which the population can flee from planes darkening the skies by day and screeching overhead by night.

The Israeli government told Gazans to leave to avoid the bombing. It told them to leave via the only road open—the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. But hours after that warning, Israel bombed the crossing, shutting it down and making it impassable.

Even if there was an escape route, many Gazans fear that if they leave their homes, they will never be allowed to return. The emergency evacuation, they worry, would become a default permanent expulsion.

U.S. support for war thus far

Meanwhile, from lawmakers in the U.S., there have been many justified expressions of solidarity with the Israeli victims of the Hamas terror but very little or almost no mention of either the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel or the role of the United States in fostering that oppression to the tune of more than $3 billion in military aid to Israel per year.

Attempts within the U.S. government to even hint at the importance of addressing the needs of the Palestinians have been swiftly shut down.

The State Department’s Office of Palestinian Affairs posted a tweet on X (the former Twitter) late Saturday urging “all sides to refrain from violence or retaliatory attacks.” The account of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, not the secretary himself, posted a message Sunday that spoke positively of Turkey’s statement backing a cease fire. Both posts were taken down after Israel objected to any notion that it should stand down.

Since then, President Joe Biden has spoken eloquently against the horror of the Hamas attacks on Israel and has gone twice on national television to announce increased armaments destined for Israel. Administration officials have said Netanyahu has no choice to respond in any manner other than the way he has thus far.

In his second speech on the war Wednesday, Biden said the Torah speaks of God making the stars to provide light on the earth so as to separate light from darkness. Hamas, he said, is that darkness, and Israel is the light. Hamas, he said, is “worse than ISIS.” He called the Hamas attack on Israel the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. He pledged total support to Israel in this war because not giving that support would amount to silence, he said, “which amounts to complicity.”

He had not a single word for the decades of oppression practiced by Israel against the Palestinians or what that has done to even the small amount of light shining over the Middle East. It was almost as if the crimes against Palestinians never took place or, if they did, they were totally disconnected from the disaster unfolding today in the Middle East.

He never mentioned that his administration’s policy of encouraging deals between Saudi Arabia and Israel has helped worsen the situation in the Middle East and reduced the prospects for peace. That policy is the same as the one pursued by the Netanyahu government, a policy designed to keep control of the Middle East in the hands of Israel and the United States, in league with the reactionary regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a policy of the Netanyahu government and the Biden administration that has already shown it will do nothing to solve the problem of the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points to his map of ‘the New Middle East’ during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 22, 2023. His vision of the region, as the map shows, has no place for Palestine. The Biden administration, with its declaration of endless support for Israel, has essentially endorsed the Netanyahu vision. | Richard Drew / AP

It’s a deal that envisions a boost in Saudi oil production, which the Biden administration wants to counter the rising costs of oil triggered by its sanctions against Russia and Venezuela. Energy price hikes have also been worsened by the destruction of the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines linking Russia to Western Europe, speculated by some observers to be the work of the U.S. and its allies.

Those sanctions are hurting not just the U.S. now, but many U.S. allies, too. So, cozying up to Saudi Arabia is now acceptable, especially if it results in lower oil prices. There is even speculation that nuclear weapons for the Saudis could be thrown into the deal to sweeten the pot and lower fossil fuel oil prices even more, endangering not just Mideast peace but the entire planet.

Republicans are even worse when it comes to their policies toward the Middle East. Some right-wing Republicans—particularly those whose strongest base is to be found among fundamentalist Evangelicals—support Israel because they have the idea that it has to be kept intact now so that it can be destroyed later at the end of the world in time for the second coming of Christ. With friends like those right-wing Republicans, Israel certainly doesn’t need any more enemies.

When Donald Trump was president, he catered to many of the goals of the second-comers. He moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a long-held goal of the extreme right. He kissed up to Netanyahu, the most right-wing prime minister in Israel’s history, and declared that the Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel, belongs to Israel and not to Syria. He forced the Palestinians to close their office in Washington.

The few voices of the Democratic Party dissent against the Biden policy of unflinching military support for Israel come from people like Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American in Michigan. “I grieve the Palestinian and Jewish lives lost, but the path to the future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that lead to resistance,” she declared on Instagram.

Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri also mourned the loss of life on both sides and said on X that she “strongly condemns the targeting of civilians” and she demanded “ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid.” It remains to be seen whether more Democrats will come around to that position as they see the bankruptcy of a policy of continued U.S. military support for Israel, a policy destined to extend warfare in the region indefinitely.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.