Who is keeping score? Who is keeping a tally of the dead bodies piled up in each corner during this Israel-Hamas war? While the number of Israeli deaths stops at around 1,400, the number of Palestinian deaths keeps rising, making me wonder if the killing will stop once all the people are gone.
“Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll among Palestinians has passed 10,000 — mostly women and children. It’s a toll without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence, and it is expected to climb even more rapidly as Israel presses its ground offensive,” Wafaa Shurafa and Samy Magdy wrote for the Associated Press on October 29. “Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during the initial Hamas onslaught.”
Since the Associated Press report from October 29, Palestinian casualties have risen to more than 10,000.
We also await the release of more than 200 hostages, some injured and in need of medical treatment. Why can’t we agree on a ceasefire so the smoke can clear and cooler heads can talk us out of this? I will never forget that the U.S. vetoed a call for “humanitarian pauses” or that President Joe Biden doubted the death toll.
There is no explanation, no justification for this. Meanwhile, some faith leaders post scriptures to explain the war, but this isn’t just a war. Church members quote scriptures to suggest that this is something worth fighting for.
But I don’t think beating people over the head with a holy book is a good look during a time of war.
Besides, “the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon,” Noam Chomsky said, and I tend to agree. Maybe we should let our actions toward peace-making speak instead. Perhaps we should focus on stopping the bloodshed; we need more hands to apply pressure to these open wounds.
I’m not interested in the number of scriptures you can repeat. Instead, I am looking at mothers and fathers holding their children’s dead bodies. I am bearing witness—because I dare not look away—to the mass murder of innocent Palestinian civilians.
Because Israeli airstrikes are also targeting Palestinians in the West Bank—though Hamas is not there. Where is all this bombing going? The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has dropped more than 6,000 bombs and counting.
This is not an eye for an eye or a life for a life. The exchange rate is far higher than this.
“You must remember what Amalek has done to you says our holy Bible and we do remember and we are fighting,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on October 28, directly implying that Israel would do to Palestine what Samuel did to the Amalekites. Netanyahu was referencing First Samuel 15:3: “Now go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
This is not “scriptural” or “biblical.” This is diabolical.
Wil Gafney, a womanist biblical scholar and Episcopal priest, wrote on Facebook that Netanyahu’s statement “is nothing other than adopting biblical language for a genocide placed on the lips of God.” How else can he justify carpet bombing a captive population or moving to ground operations?
“Entire families & bloodlines are being wiped out because THIS IS GENOCIDE,” Bree Newsome, an artist and grassroots organizer, wrote on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter. “Civilians are being murdered at a rate that exceeds what is typical for war because THIS IS GENOCIDE. People are afraid to use the appropriate term because then they have to admit THIS IS GENOCIDE.”
There is no balance in war. Death never equals out or squares things away for both sides. No, it’s a zero-sum game—except they are playing with human lives.
How many more lives will it take? Or is that not even the point?
“I would like to say that we, in Israel, at least the population, are not interested in all this rational Palestinian talks. For us, there is one purpose, to destroy Gaza, to destroy this absolute evil, to destroy this,” Dror Eydarm, former Israeli ambassador to Italy, said on Stasera Italia on October 25.
There aren’t two sides to genocide. So, until all the people are gone.