Massacre in Rafah during the Super Bowl

Israel has a history of committing atrocities while the world is distracted.
As millions of Americans were glued to their screens watching the Super Bowl the Sunday before last, millions of Palestinians in Gaza suffered relentless bombing in Rafah, a district one-eighth the size of the city of Tulsa with four times the population. The bombing was at the hands of Israel using weapons funded by the U.S.
Rafah is the southernmost district of Gaza and contains, in addition to over 170 thousand Palestinians living there prior to Oct. 7, over a million Palestinians who fled to the district due to its declaration of a safe zone throughout the (one-sided) “Israeli-Hamas War” by the Israeli Prime Minister and other high government and military officials. Since the beginning of their illegal collective punishment operations on Oct. 7, these officials have told Gazans in the north to flee to the south, promising they would be safe if they did and threatening that they would be viewed as terrorists and killed if they did not. Yet, the bombing did not cease in Rafah, nor anywhere else in the south. After its declaration of Rafah as a safe zone, the Israeli military continued to bomb the southern areas, which, as one can imagine, contained the Palestinians who fled the bombardments in the north looking for a promised safety only to face a massacre in the so-called safe-zone of the south as well.
As millions of Americans were geared up to watch the Super Bowl, the perfect distraction from all news and media, save for an Israeli propaganda advertisement calling for the release of Israelis held in Gaza only days after Israel’s rejection of their release, Israel ramped up the bombing of this southernmost part of Gaza. As such, Israel murdered Palestinians in Rafah who had nowhere else to flee due to Israel’s forcing of Palestinians out and away from North Gaza, which is not safe, much less livable, as well as their denial of the Palestinian right of return. This denial has caused fear in Palestinians to leave their homeland — provided they were even physically able to considering their physical conditions after four months of enduring bombs, hellfire missiles, snipers, starvation, dehydration, lack of medical care and the closed borders of surrounding territories — because Gazans know they will never be allowed back, despite international law.
While millions cheered for the Chief’s win, millions of Palestinians and Palestinian allies grieved over 100 lives lost — stolen by Israel during the four-hour period when Israel knew eyes would not be on them. This is in addition to approximately 30,000 murders carried out by Israel since Hamas’ counterattack on Oct. 7. It does not include those stuck under the rubble as a result of the Super Bowl attacks or those suffocating under the remains of their homes from previous attacks. It does not include those dying in the streets due to the cold, those undergoing painful operations such as giving birth and receiving amputations without anesthesia or any others who have died as a result of the horrors Palestinians have had to endure due to Israel’s illegal occupation and genocide under the guise of war. Not to mention
its blockade of basic necessities, which increased and solidified as a form of collective punishment following the events of Oct. 7 — a tactic that is illegal under international law.
This tactic of launching an attack when the West, primarily the U.S., is distracted is not new. This has happened during at least three of the major Israeli attacks on Gaza. In 2008, an election year, Israel launched an attack known as Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the murder of over 1,400 Gazans. It began on Dec. 27, perfectly interposed between Christmas and New Years, and ended on Jan. 18, two days prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama, who had continuously avoided giving a proper statement on the massacre under his excuse that he was not in the position to speak for the United States as he was not yet the president. Although presidential candidates, former presidents and president-elects have no qualms giving their opinions on other issues before inauguration.
Four years later, during the election year of 2012, Israel timed the murder of over 100 Palestinians in Gaza, known as Operation Pillar of Defense, with the week of the presidential election. So, while the media was filled with political analysts explaining what could come of a second term of Obama now that he had officially secured his second term, the answer to the question of what Obama did for Palestine during his presidency was a series of bombs, the loss of over 100 innocent lives and over a thousand Palestinians who would face another massacre less than two years later. During the summer of 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge during the final week of the 2014 World Cup, and as we have seen from the Super Bowl, an athletic event is the perfect cover for a mass murder or a new wave of invasion. In the month and a half of Israel’s assault on Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, over 2,000 Palestinians were killed.
Israel has continuously exhibited this pattern of timing its assaults on Palestine with the distraction of the West. However, Israel does not only target Gaza during these moments as it targets the West Bank as well. Throughout these past four months, while any coverage that focuses on the plight of Palestinians has centered on Gaza and Gazan deaths, Israeli settlers under the protection of the Israeli military and government have taken the opportunity to launch numerous raids all over the West Bank. Thus, Israel continues to illegally annex Palestinian land and deprive Palestinians of their homes and homeland. This once again proves that the Nakba, the Catastrophe, did not end in 1948 with the murder and expulsion of half of the population of Palestine and the brutal seizing and occupation of almost 80% of Palestine. It is the continuous and systemic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in an attempt to gain control over the entirety of Palestine. In doing so, the United States’ foothold in the Middle East would further solidify. Thus, Israel’s strongest proponent — which has given Israel nuclear weapons, over $150 billion, missiles, bombs and fighter jets, — has protected Israel from repercussions, especially at the United Nations, and has repeatedly denied the rights of Palestinians, including rejecting the formal request of Palestinian statehood in 2011 at the UN, which would have put into action the two-state solution. The main resolution that the U.S. and its allies have proposed for over 75 years, would continue to be able to extract the riches of the Middle East without fear.

Post Author: Heba Saleh