Chris Hedges: A Genocide Foretold

The genocide in Gaza is the final stage of a process begun by Israel decades ago. Anyone who did not see this coming blinded themselves to the character and goals of the apartheid state.

A Genocide Foretold – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges

There are no surprises in Gaza. Every horrifying act of Israel’s genocide has been telegraphed in advance. It has been for decades. The dispossession of Palestinians of their land is the beating heart of Israel’s settler colonial project.

This dispossession has had dramatic historical moments — 1948 and 1967 — when huge parts of historic Palestine were seized and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. Dispossession has also occurred in increments —the slow-motion theft of land and steady ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The incursion on Oct. 7 into Israel by Hamas and other resistance groups, which left 1,154 Israelis, tourists and migrant workers dead and saw about 240 people taken hostage, gave Israel the pretext for what it has long craved — the total erasure of Palestinians. 

Israel has razed 77 percent of healthcare facilities in Gaza, 68 percent of telecommunication infrastructure, nearly all municipal and governmental buildings, commercial, industrial and agricultural centers, almost half of all roads, over 60 percent of Gaza’s 439,000 homes, 68 percent of residential buildings — the bombing of the Al-Taj tower in Gaza City on Oct. 25, killed 101 people, including 44 children and 37 women, and injured hundreds — and obliterated refugee camps. The attack on the Jabalia refugee camp on Oct. 25 killed at least 126 civilians, including 69 children, and injured 280.

Israel has damaged or destroyed Gaza’s universities, all of which are now closed, and 60 percent of other educational facilities, including 13 libraries. It has also destroyed at least 195 heritage sites, including 208 mosques, churches, and Gaza’s Central Archives that held 150 years of historical records and documents.

Ruins left by Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the southern of Gaza strip, photo taken Oct. 8, 2023. (Mahmoud Fareed, Wafa for APAimages)

Israel’s warplanes, missiles, drones, tanks, artillery shells and naval guns daily pulverize Gaza — which is only 20 miles long and five miles wide —  in a scorched earth campaign unlike anything seen since the war in Vietnam. It has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives — equivalent to two nuclear bombs — on Gaza, many targets selected by artificial intelligence.

It drops unguided munitions (“dumb bombs”) and 2000-pound “bunker buster” bombs on refugee camps and densely packed urban centers as well as the “safe zones” — 42 percent of Palestinians killed have been in these “safe zones” where they were instructed by Israel to flee.

Over 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, forced to find refuge in overcrowded UNRWA shelters, hospital corridors and courtyards, schools, tents or the open air in south Gaza, often living next to fetid pools of raw sewage.

Israel has killed at least 32,705 Palestinians in Gaza, including 13,000 children and 9,000 women. This means Israel is slaughtering as many as 187 people a day including 75 children.

It has killed 136 journalists, many, if not most of them deliberately targeted. It has killed 340 doctors, nurses and other health workers — 4 percent of Gaza’s healthcare personnel. These numbers do not begin to reflect the actual death toll since only those dead registered in morgues and hospitals, most of which no longer function, are counted. The death toll, when those who are missing are counted, is well over 40,000

Poster of Palestinian healthcare workers killed by Israeli forces during Cardiff, Wales, Palestine solidarity protest on Nov. 25, 2024. (OwenBlacker, Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

Doctors are forced to amputate limbs without anesthetic. Those with severe medical conditions — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease — have died from lack of treatment or will die soon. Over a hundred women give birth every day, with little to no medical care. Miscarriages are up by 300 percent.

Over 90 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza suffer from severe food insecurity with people eating animal feed and grass. Children are dying of starvation. Palestinian writers, academics, scientists and their family members have been tracked and assassinated. Over 75,000 Palestinians have been wounded, many of whom will be crippled for life.

“Seventy percent of recorded deaths have consistently been women and children,” writes Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, in her report issued on March 25.

“Israel failed to prove that the remaining 30 percent, i.e. adult males, were active Hamas combatants — a necessary condition for them to be lawfully targeted. By early-December, Israel’s security advisors claimed the killing of ‘7,000 terrorists’ in a stage of the campaign when less than 5,000 adult males in total had been identified among the casualties, thus implying that all adult males killed were ‘terrorists.’”

Israel plays linguistic tricks to deny anyone in Gaza the status of civilians and any building – including mosques, hospitals and schools – protected status. Palestinians are all branded as responsible for the attack on Oct. 7 or written off as human shields for Hamas. All structures are considered legitimate targets by Israel because they are allegedly Hamas command centers or said to harbor Hamas fighters.

These accusations, Albanese writes, are a “pretext” used to justify “the killing of civilians under a cloak of purported legality, whose all-enveloping pervasiveness admits only of genocidal intent.”

In scale we have not seen an assault on the Palestinians of this magnitude, but all these measures – the killing of civlians, dispossession of land, arbitrary detention, torture, disappearances, closures imposed on Palestinians towns and villages, house demolitions, revoking residence permits, deportation, destruction of the infrastructure that maintains civil society, military occupation, dehumanizing language, theft of natural resources, especially aquifers — have long defined Israel’s campaign to eradicate Palestinians. 

Palestinian water tanks destroyed by settlers in Hebron, 2009. (ISM Palestine, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The occupation and genocide would not be possible without the U.S. which gives Israel $3.8 billion in annual military assistance and is now sending another $2.5 billion in bombs, including 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs, 500 MK82 500-pound bombs and fighter jets to Israel. This, too, is a U.S. genocide.

The genocide in Gaza is the culmination of a process. It is not an act. The genocide is the predictable denouement of Israel’s settler colonial project. It is coded within the DNA of the Israeli apartheid state. It is where Israel had to end up. 

Zionist leaders are open about their goals.

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, after Oct. 7, announced that Gaza would receive “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel.” Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz said: “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened.”

Avi Dichter, the minister of agriculture, referred to Israel’s military assault as “the Gaza Nakba,” referencing the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” which between 1947 and 1949, drove 750,000 Palestinians from their land and saw thousands massacred by Zionist militias.

Likud member of the Israeli Knesset Revital Gottlieb posted on her social media account: “Bring down buildings!! Bomb without distinction!!…Flatten Gaza. Without mercy! This time, there is no room for mercy!” Not to be outdone, Minister of Heritage Amichai Eliyahu supported using nuclear weapons on Gaza as “one of the possibilities.”

The message from the Israeli leadership is unequivocal. Annihilate the Palestinians the same way the U.S. annihilated Native Americans, the Australians annihilated the First Nations peoples, the Germans annihilated the Herero in Namibia, the Turks annihilated Armenians and the Nazis annihilated the Jews. 

The specifics are different. The process is the same.

We cannot plead ignorance. We know what happened to the Palestinians. We know what is happening to the Palestinians. We know what will happen to the Palestinians.

But it is easier to pretend. Pretend Israel will allow in humanitarian aid. Pretend there will be a ceasefire. Pretend Palestinians will return to their destroyed homes in Gaza. Pretend Gaza will be rebuilt. Pretend the Palestinian Authority will administer Gaza. Pretend there will be a two-state solution. Pretend there is no genocide.

The genocide, which the U.S. is funding and sustaining with weapons shipments, says something not only about Israel, but about Western civilization, about who its citizens are as a people, where they came from and what defines them.

It says that all the Western vaunted morality and respect for human rights is a lie.

It says that people of color, especially when they are poor and vulnerable, do not count.

It says their hopes, dreams, dignity and aspirations for freedom are worthless.

It says we will ensure global domination through racialized violence

This lie — that Western civilization is predicated on “values” such as respect for human rights and the rule of law — is one the Palestinians, and all those in the Global South, as well as Native Americans and Black and Brown Americans have known for centuries. But, with the Gaza genocide live streamed, this lie is impossible to sustain. 

The U.S. does not halt Israel’s genocide because it is Israel, infected with white supremacy and intoxicated by its domination of the globe’s wealth and the power to obliterate others with our industrial weapons.

Remember The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman telling Charlie Rose on the eve of the war in Iraq that American soldiers should go house to house from Basra to Baghdad and say to Iraqis “suck on this?” That is the real credo of the U.S. empire.

The world outside of the industrialized fortresses in the Global North is acutely aware that the fate of the Palestinians is their fate.

As climate change imperils survival, as resources become scarce, as migration becomes an imperative for millions, as agricultural yields decline, as costal areas are flooded, as droughts and wild fires proliferate, as states fail, as armed resistance movements rise to battle their oppressors along with their proxies, genocide will not be an anomaly.

It will be the norm. The earth’s vulnerable and poor, those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” will be the next Palestinians.  

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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13 comments for “Chris Hedges: A Genocide Foretold

  1. Tony
    April 4, 2024 at 09:40

    “It (Israel) has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives…”

    This is a truly terrifying statistic. By comparison, the Johnson administration dropped a reported 214 tons of bombs on Cambodia from 1965 onwards (a bombardment massively expanded by the Nixon administration).

    Source: Bombs over Cambodia.

  2. ZimInSeattle
    April 4, 2024 at 00:38

    Israel has assembled a slam dunk case for having their charter revoked & their so-called state relegated to the dustbin of history.

  3. Charles E. Carroll
    April 3, 2024 at 10:55

    Free Palestine!

  4. mgr
    April 3, 2024 at 09:00

    “The incursion on Oct. 7 into Israel by Hamas and other resistance groups, which left 1,154 Israelis, tourists and migrant workers dead and saw about 240 people taken hostage, gave Israel the pretext for what it has long craved — the total erasure of Palestinians.” In fact, it will turn into an entire erasure of Israel.

    The Resistance is turning it all against them. I always thought that Western civilization was headed for a “Let them eat cake…” moment. And, no doubt, that may come too. But this is more of a “The emperor wears no clothes” situation. In a sense, Russia’s experience in Ukraine has changed the paradigm; control the escalation, fight a war of attrition and the Western and Israeli hegemons expose and destroy themselves.

    It seems at this point that the only possible outcome in Palestine is a one state solution with Arabs and Jews living side by side in the same community, which they have done for hundreds of years. There are, for example, large Jewish communities in Iran. It’s not a problem. Ordinary people can get along fine until they are deliberately excited by others for their own self-serving ends (CIA playbook).

    What overturned this peaceful coexistence in Palestine? Zionism. Period, full stop. The Jews don’t have to go. Its Zionism that has to go. The Germans had their Nazis, Ukraine too. The US has its neocons. Israel has its Zionists. All three of these groups share the same fascist mindset. That fascist mindset is a problem, perhaps the problem, for the whole world. Russia is taking care of the fascists in Ukraine. The Resistance will take care of the Zionists in in Palestine. We’ll see what happens to the neocons but any plan for peace in the world means dealing with them too.

  5. Francis (Frank) Lee
    April 3, 2024 at 08:28

    Interestingly enough the ‘isms’ of our times are little more than the sales pitches for those out to make a name for themselves or/palpable lunatics. Orwell was of course right on the money – again. He writes:

    ”By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions and/or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly – and this much is more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or another unit , placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests … Nationalism in the extended sense includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism

    Moreover, the Nationalist …”sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endlessly rise and decline of great power units; and every event that happens seems t6o him a demonstration that his own side is on the up-grade and some hated rival on the down grade … Nationalism is power hungry tempered by self-deception … All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from clinical schizophrenia, having quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connexion with the physical world.”

    Unfortunately this is the world in we inhabit which shows no sign growing out of.. like the man said: ”It is difficult to free tools from the chains they revere.” Voltaire – who else.

  6. Carolyn L Zaremba
    April 2, 2024 at 19:56

    I never used to like Israel much but now I hate it with a passion. The Zionists are fanatic fiends who brainwash their children in race hatred. They do not represent the Jews of the world. They represent just another form of fascism and racism. The United States must be condemned along with the Zionists of the crime of genocide. Payback will come as day follows night.

  7. Lois Gagnon
    April 2, 2024 at 16:26

    The non NATO countries are certainly aware that their fate aligns with the Palestinians. I don’t see them continuing to stand down on this. They are being too slow in organizing a collective response, but my guess is that won’t hold for much longer. This requires a convincing response. I suspect that with the attack in Moscow, the process of a collective response to all of it is being discussed.

  8. Em
    April 2, 2024 at 16:02

    There is no one like Chris Hedges able to put atrocity in such stark and detailed description, horrific as they are to absorb!
    In this day and age of so-called enlightenment, hating individuals who, per chance/randomly, have been born into/are affiliated with one or the other institutional religion, is the height of absurdity!
    In the so-called western world of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, whose core beliefs originate, and are rooted in the same ancient texts, known as the Old Testament/Holy Bible/Koran, hatred can be seen for what it is, irrational thinking, and may rightly be regarded as – if not insanity, then, plain and straightforward. simply utterly senseless talk, in light of what we are, in ‘reel’ time witnessing today.
    So long as it stays as inane ranting, it must be regarded as legitimate free speech, at least where there is purported democracy!.
    If hatred stems from fear, then why do some human beings hate others, only because of their proclaimed religious affiliation? No person is born the embodiment of a particular religion, after all, religions are constructs of the ingenuity of mind! We all, without exception, are of the same corporeality!
    This is man’s only uniqueness among all the animals. As for intraspecies potentialities, none of us is unique. Given the right/wrong circumstances, each one of us is capable of the good, the bad, and the ugly; such as hatred.
    The primal question then, relates directly to evolutionary development, or perhaps the cessation of it: In contemporary man then, what are the direct causes of irrational fears, specifically relating to hatred of one’s fellow human travelers?
    The state of Israels hatred of non Jewish Palestinians is irrational beyond comprehension, as is the absurd – nowadays not solely paranoid fear, guiding this hatred.
    Being hated for one’s religious practices “can feel like having someone following you around at all times, criticizing you and pointing out every flaw or shaming you for every mistake.” This quote is one from “the psychology of self-hatred” yet it feels as if the description aptly fits what it actually feels like to be hated, by other than self!
    There must be something in ‘haters’ that they do not recognize in themselves – akin to ‘self-hatred’, that they inadvertently feel pressured to foist on others, in order to mitigate their own pain.
    Anyone may succumb to being an Islamophobe, a Christianophobe or a Judeophobe. All three definitions are descriptions of haters of those who by choice, or otherwise, follow the specific tenets of the religions cited.
    Does this mean that these misguided groups of individuals are not members of the same human community?
    Suddenly, out of unconscious minds-eye pops the question: Is it the religionists or the haters who are misguided, or both?
    Being free, certainly is perplexing! Yet this child of life would have it no other way!
    Is Israel being singled out for the fact of its conduct, in ‘reel’ time; in front of a global audience. Yes it is, and for good reason; for the good of a more universal conscience. The intent definitely, is not to give Israeli’s sanction to continue the atrocities unimpeded!
    This internet medium, has not been available to showcase this type of performance to the extent it is now being witnessed, ongoing through previous historical times, yet this vastly broader, more enlightened public, is gobsmacked horrified by today’s barbaric displays of the depths to which human beings can sink. They appear not to individually believe each and every one of us is capable of such savagery, given the right/wrong circumstances!
    The state of Israel is certainly NOT the first to evince this genocidal conduct, but in today’s world – going back for more than 75 years, it has been the main attraction. Only difference today, the majority of the global populace are bearing witness, and are clambering to get in, to once and for all rid the world of the ultimate evil!
    The one most disturbing word is: Again!!!???
    The Israeli’s are giving a diabolical re-run performance of their own tragically catastrophic history, which only came to be titled ‘Never Again’ when the final curtain brought it to a close. We’re almost on the cusp of what an erstwhile famed physicist predicted, not too many years ago; a fast-tracking trajectory, back tracking to a time when grievances were settled with settled “sticks and stones”! Knowing the truths as the exemplary physicist, yet still, being a ‘humane being’ he was an optimist!
    ‘Never Again’ appears to be the same empty slogan it has always been! It’s at the top of the list of Netanyahu’s attempts at continuing to distract the international public from the – putting it mildly, egregious behavior of his personally selected henchmen and women!
    Nowadays it has the same catch-all significance as the U.S. ‘Forever Stamp’!
    What a sorry lot of “deplorables” we humans are! This especially includes the likes of despicable Hilary Clinton and Donald J. who, once again is attempting, and succeeding to make Chumps of us!
    In the name of life…. Any practical, pragmatic actual solutions welcome, short of suggesting the revolutionary war of Armageddon?

    • Dennis L Merwood
      April 2, 2024 at 20:17

      How is Donald J. Trump once again attempting, and succeeding to make Chumps of us!
      Only Trump and Putin can pull this out of the mess we are in.
      You better believe this my friend. Its our only chance!

  9. Drew Hunkins
    April 2, 2024 at 14:59

    “The U.S. does not halt Israel’s genocide because it is Israel, infected with white supremacy…”

    It’s not “white supremacy” that’s the problem here. Just ask a white Serb or a white ethnic Russian in Donbas. The issue in this particular genocide in Gaza is Jewish supremacy. Israel Shahak (the scholar who wrote “Jewish History, Jewish Religion”), Gilad Atzmon and others have this 100% correct.

    • Em
      April 2, 2024 at 20:51

      Now there’s an instructive voice, Gilad Atzmon, on things Israel, who doesn’t get much political recognition, because he plays it like he sees it, without narrative jazz.
      However he gets the full limelight when playing jazz saxophone.

    • Michael Kritschgau
      April 3, 2024 at 08:33

      The West has a huge complex with colonialism and white/black racism and sees the whole world like this.
      They have no clue that blacks are a new thing in Eastern Europe since black people rarely visited or established themselves in Eastern Europe.
      They are also very blind to the fact that Eastern European history is totally different to Western European history.
      As such, the Western people see everything as a nail because they only have a hammer in their hand.

    • Litchfield
      April 3, 2024 at 17:52

      You are right about that.

      The constant harping on “white supremacy” just alienates potential allies.

      In fact I am somewhat disappointed in this piece by Hedges. I expected, from the title of the piece, that he would explain in detail–certainly in more detail—how not only the ideas of Jewish racism but the actual practices of ethnic cleansing, massacres, destruction, LYING and PR campaigns to hide or try to put lipstick on what they are actually doing goes back to the earliest days of the Zionist project in Palestine. For the day-by-day account of what was done back then—all “reminiscence of the future” that we are seeing now, just read Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. He cites specific orders given to the Alexandroni, the Golani, Brigade 7, and other brigades to bomb, massacre, loot, and violently expel.

      In some cases hundreds of thousands of villagers were expelled in a matter of days. This Blitzkrieg against the Palestinians was possible only because the whole operation was planned starting in the early thirties. Why doesn’t Hedges inform his readers of this?
      The only Westerner who tried to help the Palestinians was Count Folke Bernadotte. He was summarily executed by Yitzhak Shamir and his gang.
      Pappe tells the heartbreaking stories of the atrocities in many specific villages, beautiful ancient villages with productive infrastructure. All stolen by the Zionists. He describes the campaigns in different regions of Palestine. He cites excerpts from Ben-Gurion’s and other pathological Zionists’ diaries. They LOVED IT!!! One reads these accounts with a horrified feeling of recognition.

      One aspect of this recognition is the GREED, pure covetousness, that underlay the project. The Zionists COVETED Palestine: a land they knew was NOT theirs. The Talmudic supremacist ideas suited and justified this greed. Pappe rightly uses this word repeatedly.

      These fanatics were however, very good at PR. As Pappe writes (p. 57): “When the results [of the ethnic cleansing] gradually became visible the government needed a public relations campaign to stymie adverse international responses, and began to involve and inform those officials [i.e., Isreali diplomats] for producing the right image abroad—that of a liberal democracy in the making.” This lie has been regurgitated ad nauseam by US and EU politicians, although it soon became obvious that it was untrue.

      IMO, Hedges needs to further than recounting and accounting the horrors. He needs to point the accusatory finger far more clearly at the continuity between the earliest years of the Zionist project and now. The only difference is that the weapons now are bigger. The MO is nothing new. Does Hedges actually know the history? Has he read Pappe, Shahak? Is he afraid to say out loud what one can read there? Is he afraid of being accused of antisemitism if he drills down into the sources and justifications of the savagery that thrill so many Zionists?

      The obvious implication is that the Zionist project was criminal in its conception, not just its execution.

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