‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’…

(Photo credit: Pikwizard)

I recently opened my email and read the headline in the Independent Catholic News, ‘Israel reduces water supply to Bethlehem’. While Bethlehem isn’t in Palestine, for anyone remotely aware of the situation regarding Palestine and those living there, Israel’s manipulation of water supply is not breaking news. But added to the reports of famine among the Palestinian people, this headline is unpalatable right now. Since October 7, I have felt a variety of emotions. It began with holding my breath, then screaming out all the air. That left a void for anger. Then the numbness set in as I struggled to understand the realities of the futility, senselessness and inhumanity of the targeted massacre of children, women and men. First, the Hamas attack on Israel and the taking of hostages. Then the unrelenting Israeli military retaliation. Even more disturbing are concepts of luxury Gaza waterfront properties constructed on a massacre site once, once “Israel ‘cleans up’ the strip’”. And let’s not forget the breathtaking profits of the arms industry and spider’s web of collaborations of various forms of surveillance, digital advances and technological industries that tie the UK and EU member states, including Ireland.

At this stage in “the war,” arguments over the death toll are a distraction. As is the age or gender of those killed. What matters is recognising the humanity and dignity of the people on the receiving end of the “tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns” as the late Dolores O’Riordan wrote. What is happening in Gaza and to the Palestinian people ntoday isn’t a Hollywood re-enactment – at least not yet. It’s a real-time annihilation. While we argue the statistics, civilians are being killed in refugee camps, public hospitals and schools – the latest of which was the brutal attack on a UN run school that was providing shelter to 6,000 displaced people.

In 1945 after the world began to digest the horror of the Holocaust, the massacre of a people during the second world war, the world said, ‘never again’. That same world established and agreed legal mechanisms to prevent such crimes in the future and to protect potential victims. Fast-forward eight decades later and despite international law, the world is watching yet another brutal attempt to eliminate a people. This reality was first alerted by South Africa and has since been qualified by various international experts and organisations. A recent report undertaken by the International Human Rights Clinic at the Boston University School of Law, as part of the University Network for Human Rights finds that, “Israel has committed genocidal acts, namely killing, seriously harming, and inflicting conditions of life calculated, and intended to, bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza”. It continues that based on the evidence, “Israel’s actions in and regarding Gaza since October 7, 2023, violate the Genocide Convention.”

Whether or not you agree with such findings is also a distraction.

For the nearly 40,000 women, children and men killed. Even more injured or maimed and those still held hostage. Those displaced. Those starving. The devastation to infrastructure. The families torn apart. The children orphaned. The psychological impact and trauma for many years to come. A future unknown and uncertain for the children of Palestine. This must surely be enough to enable you to dig deep into your own humanity and demand a ceasefire and a workable peaceful solution.