Nuseirat massacre: Slaughtered Palestinians do not exist for West’s media

Nuseirat massacre: Slaughtered Palestinians do not exist for West’s media

Biden and Netanyahu are hurtling towards the abyss, and the effects of prolonging this genocide will backfire against their interests sooner rather than later.

by Linah Alsaafin, reposted from Middle East Eye, June 10, 2024.

The details of the joint USIsraeli military operation that killed and wounded almost 1,000 Palestinians in the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday hardly speak of the celebratory heroism or precision that western media headlines gushingly splayed on their front pages.

But in a dystopian world where the graphic killing of at least 50,000 men, women and children in the span of eight months hardly warrants batting an eyelid among the ruling echelons of the Global North’s ruled-based order, one could be forgiven for thinking that any mission that destroys hundreds of civilian lives while retrieving four captives is a cause for celebration.

Even worse is when the 274 Palestinians killed and 698 wounded in Nuseirat refugee camp massacre are deliberately erased from news coverage, or pithily acknowledged either as an afterthought in a headline or vaguely in a subheading.

The Sunday cover of the New York Times, a newspaper that has willingly destroyed its last vestiges of credibility to act as a blatant stenographer for Israeli propaganda, proudly displayed the headline “Israeli military frees 4 hostages in Gaza mission”.

The front cover is accompanied by a smiling photo of a released Israeli captive (mentioned by name) and surrounded by triumphant soldiers. The Palestinians killed are relegated to a footnote.

The BBC and Reuters follow in similar vein, choosing to lead with “Four Israeli hostages freed in raid in central Gaza” and “Israeli forces rescue four live hostages from Gaza, military says” respectively.

CNN chose to focus on the logistics instead of the mass casualties: “Israel’s operation to rescue 4 hostages took weeks of preparation”, it earnestly wrote.

The Washington Post was more forthright in its tone: “A rare day of joy amid bloodshed as 4 hostages rescued alive”. A second headline still led with the “Four Israeli hostages rescued alive” and added the inconclusive number of Palestinians killed as a postscript: “at least 210 people killed in Gaza, officials say”.

And then there is The Sunday Times, unequivocal and unabashed in its tone, written with some kind of breathless flair as if describing the redundant plot of a Hollywood action movie.

“Daring raid returns Gaza motorcycle hostage”, the headline began, before continuing on to the next page with: “A surgical strike, a vicious gunfight, and celebrations broke the sabbath’s quiet.”

The carnage that this “surgical strike” left behind in its wake, the mutilated bodies of Palestinians lying askew on the streets of the marketplace, the dozens of buildings and homes destroyed are entirely omitted.

Rampant dehumanization

There’s a sense of macabreness that even when Palestinians are mentioned, it is in the passive voice that we have come to expect from these news outlets, devoid of context and detached from who is doing what to them.

The Guardian excels in its own example of covering Saturday’s heinous assault: “Israel rescues four hostages as attacks nearby kill 93 Palestinians”.

The reader is left to marvel at the glaring dissociation and gaping plot hole. Which attacks? Carried out by whom? What is relevant to “nearby”?

At the end of the day, these headlines come as no surprise and are the product of decades of rampant dehumanization. The statement from the US state department about the operation has zero mention of the Palestinians killed, because Black and brown bodies simply do not matter to its imperialist interests.

That the rescue operation of four Israelis comes at the cost of a few hundred Palestinians is, as academic and Jadaliyya editor Maya Mikdashi puts it, “unadulterated colonial racism”.

There is no reason for rejoicing over the fact that 274 Palestinians had to be brutally killed so that these four Israeli captives – healthy and in fine form as opposed to the broken, battered and skeletal figures of released Palestinians from Israeli jails – get to be back with their families.

No one had to be murdered anyway, as Hamas had reportedly offered to release civilian captives last October in exchange for the Israeli army not to invade the Gaza Strip.

According to the spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, Abu Obeida, the operation, which he described as a “complex war crime” also killed a few other Israeli captives, but he did not specify their circumstances or how many were killed. “The enemy was able to retrieve some of the captives by committing a horrifying massacre, but killed a few others in the process,” he said.

There is no doubt that the use of deadly military force is not the most practical path that will release Israeli captives. The release of the majority of Israeli captives, 105, was done via a temporary truce that also saw the release of Palestinian prisoners last November.

Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have killed an unknown number of Israeli captives, and those who were “rescued” in February included just two, at the expense of 74 Palestinians killed.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the proud executor of this genocide, and the similarly violent, extremist cadres that make up his government, were always candid with their intentions. It was never about freeing Israeli captives nor about Israel’s security.

Decimating Gaza

It has always been about decimating the Gaza Strip, thinning out its population, and forcibly displacing the remaining Palestinians, in line with the vision of an expansionist settler colony.

The specifics of how this purported rescue mission went down, with the full support and participation of the United States, is gob-smackingly ignoble.

Despite Israel carrying out this brutal aggression against Palestinians, they are merely the foot soldiers to what was always a US-supplied, backed and paid-for genocide

Soldiers chose to disguise themselves inside two vehicles including a humanitarian aid truck, a human rights crime and blatant act of perfidy that the West has repeatedly accused Hamas of doing without presenting any credible evidence.

Abdullah Jouda, a 23-year-old pharmD student who has been displaced four times, recounts how after hearing a commotion in the street, he opened the door and came face to face with the truck. He even made eye contact with one of the special forces.

“People were coming out of the truck, dressed in black with Qassam headbands wrapped around their heads,” he wrote on X. “For a moment, I felt like I was in an American movie.”

Jouda closed the door and ran upstairs to where his family was.

“It literally seemed like the horrors of the day of judgement began,” he said. The family took cover in one side of the house, as bullets rained around them non-stop for 30 minutes. The truck remained in its place, before the covering fire targeted it with an F-16 missile, shattering the glass windows of the house and injuring them all.

“We then went down the street and ran. When we reached the end of the street, they destroyed the entire residential block, including the house we were in. I will never forget the details of this important day,” he ended. “The most important thing is that we are still alive.”

The timing of this operation was also no coincidence. As if to demonstrate the absolute hubris of intentionally causing maximum civilian casualties, warplanes struck the crowded marketplace during the day to clear a path for the US-Israeli forces once they were discovered.

The aid truck had also set out from the so-called US floating aid pier, a symbol of a not-so-cleverly disguised occupation, which on Saturday finally proved skeptics right when it revealed itself to be a joint Israeli military facility.

This is all hardly surprising, and cements the fact that despite Israel carrying out this brutal aggression against Palestinians, they are merely the foot soldiers to what was always a US-supplied, backed and paid-for genocide.

Prolonging the genocide

President Joe Biden, an ardent and outspoken Zionist, could end this nightmare for the 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with a simple phone call.

But over the past eight months, he has refused to impose a single consequence on the Israeli government. Instead, he actively encourages the genocide’s continuation, while simultaneously employing the doublespeak of ceasefire calls and proposals. But Israel’s very presence and role as an imperial asset is worth more than any, if not all, Palestinian lives.

As former State Department official Aaron David Miller puts it, there is “no doubt” that Biden does not harbour the same depth of feeling and empathy for Palestinians that he affords to Israelis.

It’s why the gruesome images of a boy’s exposed brain, whose limp body suddenly jerks in to life does nothing to move those behind the genocide on Gaza.

It’s why harrowing testimonies of Nuseirat’s massacre from survivors who witnessed Israeli-US forces barging into their homes to execute their family members in cold blood barely register in the US approach to its own architecture of violence and brutality.

But this constant killing and innovative barbarity is merely a coward’s facade that shields what is glaringly obvious: Biden and Netanyahu are hurtling towards the abyss, and the effects of prolonging this genocide will backfire against their interests sooner rather than later.

Linah Alsaafin is a Palestinian journalist who has written for Al Jazeera, The Times Literary Supplement, Al Monitor, The News Internationalist, Open Democracy and Middle East Eye.


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