Skip to main content

Millions protest as Netanyahu considers mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza

By Layan Fuleihan*
For the past five months, in every part of the globe, millions of people have participated in protest actions. They have been part of one of the largest social movements in living memory, in support of the Palestinian people and against the U.S.-Israeli genocide in Gaza. Now, Israel is threatening to carry out the worst massacre yet: a full-scale invasion of Rafah starting March 10.

In response, millions around the world marched in support of Gaza on March 2 as Israel's deadline for an invasion of the enclave's southern city of Rafah approaches. In what organisers called a Global Day of Action, specifically "Hands Off Rafah", protesters from diverse backgrounds took to the streets of hundreds of cities -- from Seattle to Seoul.
As Israel's continuous bombing of Gaza enters its sixth month, the conflict is seeing several grim milestones, including the deaths of at least 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza and 70,000 wounded. Supporters of the Palestinian cause have long argued that Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its 17-year land, air, and sea blockade of Gaza, have turned the enclave into an open-air prison.
Over 2 million Gazans are packed into a tiny area closed off to the outside world. As the Israeli military rampaged through the four other governorates of Gaza, 1.5 million Palestinians were driven into Rafah, making the open-air prison even tinier.
This is an area half the size of San Francisco. It is now twice as densely populated as New York City. There is nowhere to hide and nowhere left to flee as the U.S.-supplied Israeli air force bombards Rafah in preparation for a catastrophic ground offensive. With 70 percent of all residential housing in Gaza destroyed and 576,000 Gazans facing outright famine, Israel’s mandatory evacuation orders are nothing more than an empty gesture. Israeli officials know well that the over one million displaced Gazans are not in a physical condition to flee once again.
For the past five months, Israel has massacred Palestinians with bullets, missiles, and bombs, and now are escalating the use of another weapon: hunger. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the 500,000 Palestinians remaining in northern Gaza now face starvation. The UN agency also reported that there have been no aid deliveries to the north of Gaza since January 23. Along the border between Rafah and Egypt, Israel routinely halts all but a few token aid shipments. Meanwhile, its soldiers have facilitated “protests” by far-right activists against aid delivery along the border, giving the authorities cover to deny entry to trucks carrying vital supplies.
A new study by scholars at Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine gives us a horrific preview of what the consequences of an invasion of Rafah under these dire circumstances would look like.
Researchers found that up to 86,000 Palestinians would die in the onslaught over the course of six months. Many of these would be so-called excess deaths – people dying of starvation, preventable disease, and other causes present only because of the war.
Fearing the unprecedented global outrage that would come with an all-out Rafah invasion, some politicians like EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell have felt compelled to state their opposition. This is an important crack in the alliance between Western powers and Israel.
If Israel instead becomes mainly a liability that damages U.S. standing in the world by virtue of its extreme abuses, then it could be abandoned by its sponsors just like the South African apartheid regime was at the end of the 1980s.
However, the true will of these politicians to protect Palestinians in Rafah should also be questioned. Joe Biden, for example, says that he would only support an invasion if there were “a credible plan” to protect civilians. One must ask how civilian life could ever be protected when bombing an area with 60,000 people per square mile, hundreds of thousands of whom have only the cloth of a tent to shield them.
The only way to protect Palestinian civilians would be to demand Israel end its assault on Gaza and cut off military aid. This financial support totals $3.8 billion a year from the United States and has only increased during these months of escalated genocide. Instead, Biden and the politicians in Congress are trying to send an additional $14 billion more to Israel. Far from dissuading Israel, the U.S. wants to send money so that Israel can take its war even further.

Negotiations without negotiating

Even though the Israeli forces have been unable to defeat the Palestinian resistance after over four months of full-scale assault, the Netanyahu government is already hatching schemes to impose a permanent military dictatorship on the occupied Gaza territory.
On February 23, Netanyahu presented a plan that envisions total Israeli control over Gaza indefinitely, with the help of unnamed “local officials.” The Israeli military would have total freedom of movement throughout Gaza to terrorize Palestinians at will. The Biden administration’s counterproposal to install a version of the deeply unpopular Palestinian Authority in Gaza is still a total negation of Palestine’s right to self-determination.
Israeli officials, including members of far-right parties serving in Netanyahu’s cabinet, have openly articulated their dream of the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza and their replacement by Jewish-only settlements. A conference held in December attended by 11 members of the Israeli cabinet and 15 members of Parliament even went so far as to propose a map of where 21 of these settlements would be located.
Meanwhile, in the latest round of negotiations Israel has still refused to meet any of the demands of the Palestinian resistance groups. The latest proposal sent to Hamas outlines a plan for a temporary and partial pause that provides no framework for permanent ceasefire and maintains Israeli control over large parts of the territory -- non-starters in any serious talks. In this context, Biden’s promise of a ceasefire by next Monday appears to be an attempt to increase pressure on Hamas to accept the obviously unacceptable proposal and evade condemnation from his own constituents.
The U.S.-Israeli position has never experienced a defeat in the arena of public opinion as it is experiencing now, and the pressure of mass mobilizations has been a major factor in this defeat. As the threat of a full-scale invasion of Rafah grows closer, it is clear to activists that this is a moment when mobilization can have an even more critical impact, and pressure on the defenders of genocide can prevent this nightmare from becoming a reality.
The Palestinian people have displayed the most courageous resistance and determination in the face of the brutal U.S.-Israeli genocidal assault. Generation after generation, Palestinians have kept up the fight to return to their homeland. Now, the people of the world stand with them like never before.
The March 2 global demonstrations were a powerful expression of this sentiment.
*Popular educator and organizer; education director of the People’s Forum; editor of 1804 Books in New York City. This article was produced by Globetrotter



What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.