Stop the genocide, ceasefire now!

Israel is bombing refugees in tents. Israel is burning displaced families en masse. 

South African Jews for a Free Palestine is horrified by the events in Rafah on the night of Sunday 26 May, Despite an emergency ICJ ruling against any Israeli offences in the Gaza strip, the world has witnessed yet another gruesome massacre by the IDF in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. On Sunday evening, Israeli airstrikes targeted Tel al-Sultan displacement camp, killing 50 and injuring over 200 Palestinians seeking refuge there. 

Throughout Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza the occupying power has driven the population from one ‘safe zone’ to another, bombing them in each. Now, Israel has bombed the tents of Palestinians who had already been repeatedly displaced by its onslaught on Gaza, blowing people apart and burning them alive. The visuals of dismembered, charred corpses of children will haunt and shame us forever.

Israel’s military claimed that it had carried out a ‘precise airstrike’ on a Hamas compound, killing two senior members. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following global condemnation, contradicted this, calling it a ‘tragic mistake’ that his government is ‘investigating’. Zionist hasbara (propaganda) consistently twists the narrative in this obscene and contradictory way. With distracting back-and-forths after every massacre, the Israeli government seeks to obscure the hideous reality that it has deliberately engineered with the most advanced military technology in the world. 

It has long been Zionist policy to erase the existence of Palestinians. Such dehumanisation is used to justify colonising their land and denying Palestinians basic human rights. Dehumanising racism, a fundamental component of Zionism, has facilitated this genocide. Genocidal statements of Israeli officials over the last eight months have made this all the more clear, and the military has acted accordingly. The Zionist entity therefore carries full criminal responsibility for actions explicitly ordered by the government and those carried out by individual members of its armed forces. Its seemingly eternal impunity coming from its allies, and in particular the United States, has undermined global trust in the very mechanisms of international law. 

Israel has shown contempt for the decision of the International Court of Justice that its ‘war on Gaza’ creates a plausible risk of such irreparable prejudice of Palestinians’ rights as to constitute genocide. Israel has also disregarded the preventative measures ordered by the ICJ, including the additional measure ordered on the 24th of May demanding a cease to all military operations in Rafah. It has ignored the appeals by numerous states and human rights organisations that its atrocities must stop and a ceasefire be established. 

The conflation of Zionism and Judaism carries the grotesque implication that genocide is inherent to the Jewish religion and necessary for Jewish safety. We thus reassert that opposition to Zionism is not antisemitic, but rather our responsibility as Jews.

We see the inhumane conduct of the Israeli military as a sign that the Zionist project is reaching its end. In that we take comfort. It is also heartening that more people than ever are talking about Gaza with the call for All Eyes on Rafah.

However, in order to prevent the death throes of colonialism leading to an even worse disaster for the Palestinian people, we need this movement to go so much further. If you are looking to play your part, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has provided concrete steps you can take.

The boycott campaign has already created significant economic pressure for companies complicit in the genocide, leading some to withdraw their support and ensuring others think twice before supporting Israel. The BDS website has an updated list of which companies to boycott, indicating which of them should be the priority if you can only commit to avoiding one or two.

SAJFP is always open to discussion with those who want to show solidarity and participate in the movement for the freedom of Palestine.

We call once again for an immediate ceasefire and the negotiated emergence of a free Palestine from the River to the Sea. A Palestine in which people of all faiths and none, whose home it is, can flourish in peace.

This poem from Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, who was himself subjected by Zionists to brutal violence, offers poignant insight in this excruciating moment:

Can we take a rest?

Maybe die for a few

months or years

and wake up when the poem

is complete,

when the flowers in our

garden start to grow,

their scent luring

the sparrows into visiting

our house,

our house that’s now

a small forest of rubble.