A Palestinian girl walks through the rubble of her home in Gaza City, 2014 © AFP / Getty Images

Genocide of Palestinians: How close are we to that point?

Until about a decade ago, I had been opposed to the use of the term genocide in the Palestinian-Israeli context. But now, it’s time to ring the alarm bells

3 min readAug 11, 2023


By Tamir Sorek [Translated by Sol Salbe]

In the current Israeli government, there are people who strive to push the country into an apocalyptic scenario that will make it possible to reproduce the Book of Joshua in the 21st century. The brigade commanders in the West Bank grew up at the knees of rabbis who believe that the Arab’s destiny is to be a slave to the Jew. For them, a slave who revolts is a “terrorist,” and is condemned as such. Even if they did not rise up, if Jews killed them, they must have been a terrorist.

Today in the West Bank, the murder of Palestinians by Jews is done with licence and is an almost daily occurrence. Settlers and soldiers who murder know for sure that they will not pay a price for it, that senior government ministers will stand by them, that the judges will adopt their point of view, and that the “Opposition” will remain silent (or mumble something about damage to the country’s image). After all, the killers were threatened (slave owners have always been threatened, that’s how it is when people are deprived of freedom, they become dangerous).

Until about a decade ago, I had been opposed to the use of the term genocide in the Palestinian-Israeli context. It has an apocalyptic and total dimension, and frequent use can exacerbate mutual anxieties. As we well know, victims of genocide tend to think that there is no injustice that cannot be justified by this victimised status. I also didn’t think it was a realistic possibility for the foreseeable future.

Within 50 days in 2014, Israel killed some 2000 Palestinians, about a quarter of them minors. From the point of view of the Israeli public, which feeds on the drivel IDF Spokesperson’s drivel and their echoing in the Hebrew media, it works like this: There are murderous people in Gaza (or Jenin, or Nablus) who invest most of their efforts in killing Jews (code word: terrorists). This is their nature, and there is nothing that can be done other than killing them. This is an existential threat, so that *everything* that Israel does to stop it is legitimate, the “terrorists” are so dangerous and evil, and the value of killing a “terrorist” is so high that killing children or other civilians is an appropriate moral price.

Is there a point where this logic stops? Apparently not. The 552 children and hundreds of non-combatants that Israel killed that summer did not really wake up the Israeli public, which believes it is under threat of annihilation. One can presume that 5000 children wouldn’t change that either. The threat is terrible, there is no choice, the SS are at the gate, and something must be done.

Like any genocide, the genocide of the Palestinians will by necessity not leave a smoking gun, there will be no “decision.” There will be blind shelling of population centres to serve tactical purposes, or to “extract a price” for killing Jews, but when the population really has nowhere to flee, these are massacres that may reach dimensions never seen before in this conflict.

The desire of the Nationalist Ultra-Orthodox [Chardali] camp to push Israel into an End of the Days War, that will remove all restraints, is written on the wall, as it appears in [Smotrich’s] “Decisive Plan” (the Final Solution to the Palestinian problem) of the Quasi Defence Minister. Wall-to-wall forgiveness for murders is already here. The feebleness of the liberal camp, which at most declares the “cessation of volunteering for service” of reservists but continues to send its sons and daughters to serve the goals of neo-Nazi ministers in the government, leaves little hope for the existence of an effective opposition when the murders escalate, certainly when there will also be more victims on the Israeli side who will arouse feelings of revenge.

So yes, it’s time to ring the alarm bells.