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Stop Calling This the 'Israel-Hamas War'
Israel is targeting the entire population of Gaza. Our news should reflect that.
As of this writing, over 11,000 people have been killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza. According to the UN, nearly 75 percent of those fatalities consisted of women, children, and the elderly. Children make up the single largest group of the dead; over 4,500 have been killed in the last month—an average of one every 10 minutes.
I could go on. The figures are beyond harrowing. Over 27,000 people have been injured. The majority of the fatalities—at least 6,120—came from just 825 families. 312 families lost more than 10 people. Think about that.
70 percent of the population is internally displaced. Half of the hospitals have been shut down. 51 percent of the schools in Gaza have been bombed. At least 198 medical staff have been killed. There is barely any food or water or fuel or electricity.
What this all adds up to is surely a portrait of some kind of hell on Earth. It adds up to a monstrous historical crime being committed before our eyes.
What it does not add up to is the three-word phrase that so many of our leading media outlets are using to describe this situation: the “Israel-Hamas War.”
The New York Times calls what is happening right now the “Israel-Hamas War.” So does ABC News. And CNN. And The Guardian. And the CBC. And the Wall Street Journal. And NBC News. And CBS News. And NPR. And Le Monde. And Sky News. And Bloomberg. You get the picture.
The words “Israel-Hamas War” imply just that: that the fighting, and the dying, in this war is taking place between Israel on one side and Hamas on the other side. They imply that those 11,000 dead Palestinians are all Hamas casualties. They imply that Israel, when it flattens entire neighborhoods and bombs hospitals and—let me repeat this—kills 4,500 children, that it is doing that as part of some targeted campaign against Hamas.
Take a look again at the numbers up top. Take a look again at the kinds of things Israeli officials have said about Gaza in the past month—that it is filled with “human animals”; that the emphasis of the destruction is on “damage, not accuracy”; that Israel is fighting “the forces of darkness”; that civilians in Gaza are partially responsible for the atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7.
Remember that Benjamin Netanyahu is tossing around genocidal Bible verses to describe Israel’s enemies. And that his government is stuffed with fascists who are very open about their desire to wipe Palestine off the map. And that over 800 scholars have warned that Israel is carrying out a potential genocide in Palestine right now.
Let all of that coalesce in your mind, and then ask yourself: can this be accurately described as an “Israel-Hamas war”? Are the children being killed at the rate of one every 10 minutes part of Hamas? Are the families losing 10, 15, 20 people in the blink of an eye Hamas? When such indiscriminate civilian death is taking place, can we really call this “Israel’s military campaign against Hamas,” as the Times did on Sunday?
No. Of course we can’t. It is patently not what is happening. This is an Israeli military campaign against every single person in Gaza, not just Hamas. So call it, at the very least, the Israel-Gaza war. Or, even more accurately, a war on Gaza. But to call it the “Israel-Hamas war” simply echoes Israeli propaganda—and, worse, defames the memory of the thousands of innocent Palestinians who are dead not because they attacked Israel on October 7, but because they had the audacity ever to be alive at all.