Let’s Talk About Genocide: The United Nations Lack of Responsibility to Protect from and Prevent Israel’s Genocide of the Palestinian People

For other articles in this series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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In the summer of 2012, UNICEF and UNRWA asked if Gaza will be liveable by 2020. At the time- five years into Israel’s siege, and post Israel’s 2008 and 2012 carpet-bombing campaigns- one might have been led to think that if the situation only had eight more stable years to go until apocalypse, then it probably doesn’t look too good already. What one might have missed is that Gaza in 2020, as in 2017, as in 2012, is what genocide looks like.

United Nations Lack of Responsibility to Protect

After Israel’s worse onslaught yet, in 2014, the United Nations didn’t follow up on its original question. But two-days-short-of-a-year later, in July 2015, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), of all places, decided to revive the question, as it illustrated a completely collapsed economy in detail. With five years to 2020, the UNCTAD stated:

If the current blockade and insufficient levels of donor support persist, even with a reversion to the status quo that prevailed before the latest military operation, Gaza will become economically unviable and the already grim socioeconomic conditions can only deteriorate. The likely outcome will be more conflict, mass poverty, high unemployment, shortages of electricity and drinking water, inadequate health care and a collapsing infrastructure. In short, Gaza will be unliveable, as emphasized by the United Nations (2012).

Once again, one might be led to think that almost (at the time) two million people, trapped in this non-economy, is still somehow “liveable”. So imagine my surprise, upon reading this week’s United Nations Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory report on Gaza, “Gaza Ten Years Later”, which courageously stated that its predictions have fallen two-and-a-half-years short, and that Gaza is already unliveable, stating the following:

The costs of inaction are great. Indicators for basic health and education are already starting to decline, and provision of basic services are only kept afloat by humanitarian service providers. This year, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are requesting $371 million to provide humanitarian assistance for Gaza – to address vulnerabilities stemming from the critical shortages of basic services and high protection needs. Without these services, Gaza would have been deemed unliveable years ago.

You read that right. Gaza has been unliveable for years.

The United Nations didn’t see fit to say so. For some unclear reason it instead scrambled to de-facto foot Israel’s bill, and only present a warning to the outside world. The warning was a lie. In 2012, the UN didn’t predict Gaza would become unliveable by 2020; it predicted it wouldn’t be able to afford to hide it anymore.

UPDATE 12.9.2017: UNACTAD released a new report today, stating that Gaza’s “humanitarian and economic situation has worsened” and that “Gaza’s economic performance over the past two decades has been the worst in the world” [P. 6]. So Just to recap: According to the several UN agencies, not only has Gaza been unliveable for years now, it’s gotten worse in the past couple of years. And the economic aspect of it has been the worst in the world for the past 20 years.

United Nations Lack of Responsibility to Prevent Genocide

The warning was a lie that would cost two million children, women, and men in Gaza years of subsistence in a place that the international community deemed ‘unliveable’.

Admitting that Gaza has been a manifest deathtrap for the past five years, one can’t but be stunned at the most recent UN report’s focus on Hamas political intricacies and Israel’s existential inadequacy complex, while simultaneously claiming to “look past the polemic”. The UN can’t claim “looking past polemic”, when it blames Palestinians for “eroding the unity and coherence of the future state of Palestine” by “the establishment of two different lawmaking processes and the enactment of diverging laws in Gaza and the West Bank”.  The UN can’t constantly claim objectivity, while simultaneously deeming one of the Palestinian authorities “illegitimate”. Especially when the other authority is actively complicit in- and profits off of- genocide.

It seems the United Nations is still incapable of admitting the reality in which it has been fiscally, politically, and morally complicit in the past years, despite ample public evidence of Israel’s premeditated genocidal plans [1, 2]. Instead of saying outright that Israel’s hermetic siege on Gaza is the direct reason responsible for Gaza’s ‘unliveability’ (despite referencing it in the report’s title), it’s derailing the conversation to some imagined power of the governing body of a concentration camp. Instead of using legal terminology like “war crimes”, “crimes against humanity”, “crime of extermination”, “crime of genocide”; it prefers sterile, legally-non-binding euphemisms like “uninhabitable”, “unliveable”.

Israel’s prevention of entrance of goods into Gaza is what makes it unliveable. Israel’s prevention of exit of people from Gaza is what makes it genocide.

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