Summary: Reflections from Turkey on the war against Gaza — Editors
On October 7, 2023, after the attack by Palestinian armed groups targeting the Supernova Sukkot Gathering in the Re’im region in the southern Gaza- Israel barrier, 260 civilians from different countries lost their lives, and dozens were injured. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, an armed extension of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), claimed responsibility for the attack in their statement and announced that it would continue military operations they called “Al Aqsa Floods”. Hundreds of Israelis lost their lives, and many others were injured in the clashes that spread to Tel Aviv.
Following this Hamas attack directly targeting civilians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration that “Israel is now at war” marked the start of counterattacks on the Gaza Strip. In a very short time, Israeli military forces bombed schools, mosques, and churches where civilians were taking refuge. Ultimately, with the bombing of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest shelter and treatment center for civilians in Gaza, what happened escalated to a massacre. In its latest statement, the World Health Organization mentioned that more than 7,000 civilians have lost their lives so far in attacks in Gaza. It was stated that almost 40% of these deaths were children.
During this time, Israeli Minister of Energy Israel Katz announced in his statement that the flow of electricity, water, and fuel to Gaza was stopped and added: “Only to be treated humanely to humans.” After that, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant made a similar statement. Gallant stated that: “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, and no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly.” Shortly after these statements Egypt closed the Rafah Border Crossing, the only escape route for Gaza residents, and no humanitarian aid could be delivered for days.
Thus, Israel’s attacks against Hamas have turned into a war of revenge. These consecutive declarations from the Israeli administration revealed the planned genocide in Gaza, which has been an “open-air prison” for many years. Its repercussions across the world have made the situation even more striking. The unconditional support of the European Union and the United States for Netanyahu and the frequent interpretation of the October 7 events with reference to Auschwitz have legitimized these attacks and genocide, which directly targeted civilians, women, and children. Attempts to suppress protesters, including violence, disproportionate force, and even arrests, during pro-Palestine demonstrations in the United States, France, and Germany revealed the inequality of human values that Western imperialism presents at every opportunity as ‘civilization and progressivism.’ Unfortunately, many Western countries have tried to apologize to the Jewish people for what happened in the past, condoning the cruelty and massacres committed against the Palestinian people.
This approach also leads to problems of discrimination and otherization that will persist for generations. In response to the unsuccessful arguments of Western states, the equally unsuccessful statements of Middle Eastern states have the effect of covering up the human tragedy in Gaza. Basically, the leaders of Middle Eastern countries like Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Libya define the genocide against the Palestinian people in terms of Islam to make way for another debate. Identifying the innocent people murdered in Gaza simply as ‘brothers/ sisters of faith’ appears to be a way of legitimizing a future attack on the Jewish people. Therefore, just as it is terrible to remain silent about what happened in Gaza by referring to Auschwitz, it is equally dreadful to portray Hamas as religious fighters who lead jihad while associating Israeli attacks with terrorism.
Nowadays, protests in solidarity with Palestine continue around the world. We live in a moment where human life and the right to live have to come before all other interests. Turning what happened into an issue of religion obscures the real problem, which is the colonial and human rights violations that have been occurring for years in Gaza and the West Bank. All of these cause irreversible trauma over many generations. That is why we must remember that it is a humanitarian duty to support the struggle for freedom of the Palestinian people against their isolation and the genocide in Gaza.