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Reply and Rebuttal to the disinformation that appears in the Marika Sboros piece

The piece is riddled with a combination of hysteria, Islamophobic tropes and disinformation. The intent of the piece is to trivialize Palestinian suffering, justify Israeli war crimes, criminalize Palestinian solidarity activism and extricate the context from the conflict that exists between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Israel is the Occupier and the Palestinians are the Occupied.

The Quran is considered the most sacred to Muslims the world over. The writer attributes verses to the Quran which simply do not exist in the Quran. We are not talking here about a misinterpreting of verses but rather words that don’t exist in the Quran at all. Sboros states that these are words of the Quran ‘That’s based on a prophecy in the Quran of a time when “The earth will cry out for Jewish blood’, “when the trees and the stones will say:”O Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him”.  Nowhere in the Quran do these words exist. There are popular English translations of the Quran that are available to anyone by scholars such as Mohammed Asad, Yusuf Ali, Sayed Qutb and most recently Muhammad Al Asi. The verses that are allegedly in the Quran can be fact checked by anyone and with certainty you will not find such verses in the Quran because of the fact that no such Quranic verses exist.

Prior to concluding her piece, she writes that this is not a numbers game. We can all agree with her that war is not a game, especially if you are a Gazan. If anything for the people of Gaza it is a nightmare beyond belief and a genocide of atrocious proportions.  According to Israel, the number of people killed on October 7 is 1200 and 318 of this total were Israeli soldier. More than Sixteen thousand Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli Occupation including seven thousand children. 1.9 million People of Gaza have been forcibly displaced by Israel. Most of the people of Gaza today are homeless and starved, sleeping winter nights on cold rubble. Numbers do count and they speak to a reality of horrors that is ongoing for the people of Gaza.

Even though numerous Human Rights Rapporteurs have described as genocide what Israel has done to Gaza, the writer dismisses this and says “The word genocide is a leitmotif running through anti-Israel rhetoric”. The director of the New York office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhiber left his post because of the genocide in Gaza.  Mokhiber said “Once again we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes and the organisation we serve appears powerless to stop it”. He added “The current wholesale slaughter of Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs…leaves no room for doubt.” According to Craig Mokhiber “This is text book genocide”.

Preceding the Israeli genocide visited on the people of Palestine, the Israeli leadership verbally expressed their genocidal intent.

“I have ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly” Israeli Defence Minister. Yoav Gallant. These are the racist and dehumanising words from the person in charge of the Israeli war on Gaza in the aftermath of 7th October.

The President of Israel, Isaac Hertzog said after 7th October “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. This rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved, it’s absolutely not true”. The Prime Minister is clear that there are no civilians in Gaza and all of Gaza’s 2.4 million people are fair game for slaughter by Israel and since October 7 the Israeli military has made no distinction between military combatants and the civilian population and have bombed Gaza and its civilians to ruins.

“All of Gaza’s infrastructure must be destroyed to its foundation and their electricity cut off immediately. The war is not against Hamas but against the state of Gaza”.  May Golan.  Israel’s Minister for the Advancement for the status of women.  Action Aid’s Rihanna Jafara says that “Thousands of women in Gaza are risking their lives to give birth undergoing caesarean and emergency operations without sterilising, anaesthesia and painkillers.

Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli Finance Minister and leader of the Bayit Yehudi openly expressed the intent of the Israeli military operation against the Palestinians after the October 7 attacks when he simply said “Its time to be cruel”

Ariel Kallner, a member of the Israeli Parliament from Netanyahu’s Likud Party said after October 7th, “Right now, one goal, Nakba, a Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948”.

Sboros says “Among the civilians still held hostage in Gaza are Israeli mother Shiri Babas and her flame haired sons, Ariel 4, and Kfir ten months, who have become known as the red haired babies”. They are apparently held hostage by one of the Palestinian factions. Taking women and children as hostages is against international law, no one doubts this. The writer doesn’t mention the more than seven thousand Palestinian children killed by Israel. What this writer is implicitly saying is that the lives of Palestinian kids don’t matter, they are not human because there are no red haired kids in Gaza. It is this type of racism that justifies Israeli infanticide, the killing of a Palestinian child every ten minutes and the atrocious killing of seven thousand Palestinian children by Israel. No child should be taken as a hostage and no child should be killed, whether a child has red hair or black hair, whether a child has straight hair or curly hair, whether a child is a Palestinian or Israeli.

A six year old Muslim Palestinian Arab child Wadea Al Fayoune in Chicago, America was stabbed 26 times by an Israeli supporter Joseph Czuba who screamed as he attacked the child and his mother with a knife, You Muslims must die and he went about butchering the Muslim child to death. Imagine how gruesome a death, using a twelve inch serrated military style knife with a seven inch blade, he stabbed the child,  not one time, not twice, not twelve but 26 times.  Another Zionist Islamophobe based in Durban, Saar Ben Hamoo posted after October 7 on his business Falafel Fundi Restaurant Facebook social media account “We will drink the blood of your children in Gaza”. One wonders what will satisfy the bloodthirsty revenge of these Zionists. Is the blood of seven thousand babies in Gaza not enough? How much blood of Palestinian babies will quench the insatiable vengeful and vampiric thirst of these Zionists?

The writer attributes to Hamas, the disputed allegations of beheaded babies as well as allegations of rape of Israeli women. On October 12 CNN’s Sara Sidner apologised for reporting the lie of beheaded Israeli babies after hearing it from Israeli officials “Yesterday the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said that it had confirmed accounts of beheaded babies and children while we were live on air. The Israeli government now says that it cannot confirm that babies were beheaded. I need to be more careful with my words and I am sorry”.

In relation to the allegation of rape and sexual violence, this is an open issue with allegations being made by both sides of the conflict. The writer of course fails to mention the allegations by Palestinian prisoners of rape at the hands of the Israeli Occupation. Barah Abu Ramouz, a Palestinian journalist who on the 1st December 2023 spoke of his release from an Israeli jail “The situation in the prisons is devastating. The prisoners are abused. They are being constantly beaten. They are being sexually assaulted. They are being raped. I am not exaggerating. The prisoners are being raped. Any rape allegation is serious and must be investigated.

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for human rights said that Israel should allow UN teams to investigate the allegations independently. Turk says that he has been asking Israeli authorities to deploy a team, my team to monitor, document, and investigate issues of the horrific attacks on Israeli’s”. Turk goes on to say that the Israeli authorities have not responded to his requests for access. It is also imperative that Turk and the UN also investigates the many allegations of rape made against Israeli authorities by Palestinians. There is already a popular perception in the streets of the world and human rights advocates like Craig Mokhibher that International law is not universally applied particularly to the Israeli Occupation. That the people of Palestine have had virtually all of their human rights violated without the Israeli violators being held to account.

The writer takes issue with the Daily Maverick, the South African Government and internationally reputed Human Rights organisations who are calling for a ceasefire. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, MSF, the World Health Organisation have all been calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the cessation of hostilities and release of hostages. These rights organisations are calling for the universal application of International Law. To end war and the killings. This is not a call just from rights organisations but millions of people the world over including Jews and Muslims with shared universal values of peace, justice, love and truth.

It is a fact that Palestinian solidarity activists in South Africa whom the writer implies are supporters of terrorism are in truth engaged in civil disobedience and non-violent activism. It is also a fact that some South African Zionist supporters of Israel have enlisted with the barbaric Israeli Defence Force which is currently committing war crimes in Gaza.

Today the UN Chief Gutterres has invoked Article 99 of the UN charter “Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the counsel to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared”. One is left to wonder in bewilderment as to what beats in the hearts of those who oppose a permanent ceasefire. In the words of Bob Dylan “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died, How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry”

Iqbal Suleman

Suleman is a social justice lawyer and former head of the law clinic for Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria.