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Ceasefire. Stop Genocide.

There is nothing complicated about genocide. One can hardly begin to speak about Gaza and Israel without someone unavoidably stating how “complicated” the situation is.

However, when traced back to its roots, the Palestinian question is exceedingly simple: resistance to settler colonialism.

Inherently, just like other anti-colonial struggles, it is worth studying. The claims of exceptional complexity are often employed to confuse reality and limit discussion.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what is happening within Gaza and Israel. A lot of these misconceptions are due to the plethora of misinformation or a lack of one's personal knowledge.

Iman Jaber, a USF nursing student and speaker at the Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) 'What is happening in Palestine?' event states, “What we're seeing right now is genocide, but it didn't just start Oct. 7. The conflict has technically been happening since 1948.”

It is important to note that being pro-Palestine does not mean being pro-Hamas.

Israel wants Palestine’s territory and the amount of Israeli occupied territory has been increased due to years of killing and dispossessing Palestinians of their land. Their houses and livelihoods have been destroyed, and limitations on movement and access to water, land and other natural resources have been imposed.

Mohammed Haddad of Al Jazeera published a news infographic mapping Israeli occupation showing 13 different maps explaining how Israel’s military control affects the Palestinian people. The included map gives a glimpse of the ethnic cleansing that is happening, specifically through the strategic and methodical attacking of Palestinian lands via the settlement process.

“In 1948, during the creation of the State of Israel, Zionist forces attacked major Palestinian cities and destroyed some 530 villages,” Haddad writes.

Zionism is often defined as Jewish nationalism.

“Zionism has nothing to do with religion; it's a white supremacist ideology,” MSA Co-President Alshayma Awwad explains. “There are Jews who are also against what Zionists are doing, who stand with the Palestinian people because this is not right.”

Let’s make sure that things are clear: the situation between Gaza and Israel is not a conflict. It is not a war. It is ethnic cleansing. It is the recurring forced removal of ethnic, racial or religious groups from a given area, with the objective of making a region ethnically homogeneous. The situation is a humanitarian crisis. This ethnic cleansing and genocide isn’t something that began suddenly.

According to the Institute for Palestine Studies, “On Friday, Oct. 13, residents in Northern Gaza looked to the sky as leaflets from the Israeli Occupation Forces fell, ordering Palestinians to leave their homes ‘for the sake of [their] safety’ and to head into shelters. Gaza does not have any shelters, and survivors of Israeli bombardment have been sheltering in schools and hospitals.”

The Institute for Palestine Studies continues to cite, “Saturday, the 14th of October marked a week of the Al-Aqsa Flood operation. For the seven previous days, Israel dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza, killing at least 2,200 Palestinians including more than 700 children.”

When you take the time to crunch the numbers, you find that Israel dropped the equivalent to “a quarter of a nuclear bomb.” Gaza is being bombed at the same rate as Vietnam was during the Vietnam War, all while being 900 times smaller and 67 times more densely populated.

Take a minute and allow that to sink in.   

These events alone are a clear demonstration of ethnic cleansing and genocide. These acts of violence and blatant human rights violations cannot be allowed to continue.

“Many people say that Gaza is an open-air prison but a prison is full of guilty people and the people of Gaza and Palestine are not guilty,” Awwad clarifies. “It's a concentration camp. They cage them up and make it an easy target to kill thousands.”

These are innocent people, innocent Palestinians who are being dehumanized. Both Jaber and Awwad share their connection to Gaza and Palestine expressing how they and their families are impacted.

Iman Jaber: (an Arab American, first-generation student with both parents born and raised in Palestine) "I'm from what is known now as the West Bank which is occupied Palestine territory. In a small village called Al Jib, which used to be considered a neighborhood of Jerusalem before the wall, occupation, segregation, and everything. So now we're considered a neighborhood of a smaller city called Ramallah."

"It is very difficult because we're very worried about our family; not just our family but also our homes, our generational homes that have been in the family for years."

"I come from a family of farmers, so we own land that my family makes a living from. Like my family, we just talked to them over the phone on Sunday and they had just harvested the olives from the olive trees to make olive oil. There is a strong Israeli military presence in the West Bank too, and they've been slowly making their way through the villages. "

Alshayma Awwad: (a Palestinian American, with family in Palestine in the West Bank territories) "It's just a strong bloodline connection. Palestine is my home country.

It's mentally draining and a lot of us are mentally unavailable…"

"We have this sort of, I wouldn't say survivors’ guilt, but it's similar to that because we have water, we have a house, we have a roof, we have all of that, and then we see our family back home in Palestine going through this so it's kind of hard to continue with our day-to-day lives. I think that's one of the biggest impacts. That and not being able to do anything for them and seeing how the world is continuing to stay silent during this genocide, that's also been hard on us mentally and physically. The focus right now is not only calling for a ceasefire in Gaza but to push for a free Palestine."

It is important to stay educated and speak up against what is happening in any way we can. Jaber shares resources that you can access with the QR code, and I encourage all to view these resources and further investigate the situation.

*The USF Encounter welcomes Letters to the Editors regarding this or any piece published by the magazine. Send your letter to usfencounter@gmail.com

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