The current conflict did not begin on Oct. 7th. Many of the atrocities committed have been categorically disproven, yet continue to be used as fuel to justify the continued massacre of the people in Gaza. Below are some key facts, per official UN organizations and International Humanitarian Rights groups, detailing the history and struggles of the people in Gaza.


John Saulie-Rohman

12 min read

When trying to understand this ongoing catastrophic situation, it is important to understand this conflict did not begin on Oct. 7th 2023. Nor did it begin in June of 2007 when the total blockade was imposed. There is no shortage of documentation of the long embattled history of Historic Palestine and the indigenous population struggling to remain on the land of which they lived for centuries.

Oftentimes, people feel they do not know enough to take a position on this disastrous situation, but I encourage everyone to step beyond that sentiment and seek to establish a more thorough understanding of this history and honestly determine for themselves; 

  • Is this a reflection of my values? 

  • What would we do, as an American people, protecting our freedom and right to self determination, if we were faced with a brutal occupation failing to meet even our most basic needs? 

  • How has our country’s unyielding political and financial support of the mass slaughter and starvation of our brothers and sisters in the Occupied Territories of Palestine improved our standing on the world stage and security at home?

This post is not intended to discuss the long history of the intent and aspirations of Zionist movement. While it is essential in understanding how we got to where we are, and I encourage everyone to pursue a more thorough understanding, I will begin at the beginning of the blockade imposed on the people of Gaza in June of 2007.

So, what is the Gaza Strip? The gaza strip is a patch of land on the Mediterranean Sea, roughly 6 miles wide by 25 miles long. The population of the Gaza Strip is roughly 2.3 Million people, more than 50% of which are children and 1.7 million are refugees, displaced from their homeland, now occupied by an Israeli regime intent on the ethnic cleansing of the entire population and culture. 

Since 2007, the people of The Gaza Strip have been subjected to a brutal blockade imposed by the Israeli government.

Per B’Tselem, a leading human rights group, based in Israel, reported

“In October 2010 following a Freedom of Information petition filed by the Gisha organization, it emerged that Israel had employed a “deliberate reductive policy”, based on calculations of the minimal caloric intake required for Gaza residents to survive.” 

Keep in mind, since the complete siege following Oct. 7th, food imports have been reduced to a trickle, while, according to Human Rights Watch, starvation is being weaponized to punish the 2.3 million people held captive, cut off from the outside world.

In 2014 a report conducted by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported: 

“Gaza is currently supplied with only 208 Megawatts (MW) of electricity from three sources: purchases from Israel (120 MW) and Egypt (28 MW), and production by the Gaza Power Plant (currently 60 MW). This supply meets only 46% of the estimated demand (452 MW)”. 

Keep this in mind as since the complete siege following Oct. 7th, all electricity imports have been halted.

Due to the closure and complete control over all land entrances and exits, airspace, and sea routes, the Gazan population was left to languish. A 2015 report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) reported: 

“Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 due to ongoing de-development, eight years of economic blockade and three military operations in the past six years.” 

In 2017, Amnesty International produced an extensive report ‘The Occupation of Water’ detailing the availability of clean water: 

“In Gaza, some 90-95 per cent of the water supply is contaminated and unfit for human consumption...Gaza’s only fresh water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population and is being increasingly depleted by over-extraction and contaminated by sewage and seawater infiltration.” 

Keep this in mind, since the complete siege following Oct. 7th, clean water has become nearly impossible to find for a population almost entirely dependent on the provision of clean water by the occupying regime..   

As a people living adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, fishing has played a critical role in their sustenance and economic development. The allowable fishing rights and access to the sea have been incrementally reduced, and at times completely prohibited. According to a 2018 report by B’Tselem “Israel destroying Gaza’s fishing sector”

“In March 2016, Israel expanded the range in which it permits Gazans to fish from six to nine nautical miles off the Gaza coast. In June, it reduced the range back to six nautical miles (some 11 km). These restrictions are in place despite Israel’s obligation under the Oslo Accords to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles off the Gaza coastline. Israel has never lived up to this obligation, and the widest range it has ever permitted since the Accords were signed was 12 nautical miles. Over the years, the range was repeatedly reduced; at times, it was as little as three nautical miles.” 

Because the deeper, more abundant fisheries are further off the coast, the Palestinian fisherman have been unable to access anything more than the shallow unproductive fisheries immediately adjacent to the shore. However, since the complete siege following Oct. 7, anyone seeking to attempt leaving shore in search of sustenance, risks being gunned down by Israeli Navy gunfire.

In Addition to the severe shortage of adequate food and water, closed land, sea, and airspace, According to a 2013 report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAOPT) Israel has restricted access approaching the perimeter fence from within 300 meters. If Gaza residents are to approach this unmarked Access Restricted Area (ARA), which also includes the previously mentioned fishing areas, they risk being shot, as Israel introduced an “Open-Fire” policy where Israeli forces are permitted to fire upon anyone-even if they pose no threat to life.   

So, let’s take a moment to reflect on what this brutal way of life looks like by putting ourselves in the shoes of this caged, brutalized population. 2.3 million people fenced in, unable to exit, except for the rarest of circumstances and almost completely dependent on the occupying entity for clean water and adequate food to sustain life.  

Adding to this already dire situation, it’s now time to discuss some of the most brutal military operations conducted by Israeli military forces on the people of Gaza. There is no shortage of events, furthering the devastation of the people of Gaza, but what follows are some of the most destructive operations as reported by B’Tselem, and confirmed by numerous human rights groups, known as ‘mowing the lawn’. 

According to Mouin Rabbani, a well respected scholar on this topic:

“The grass consists overwhelmingly of non-combatant Palestinian civilians, indiscriminately targeted by Israel’s precision weaponry.”

Operation Cast Lead (22 Days: December 27, 2008-January 18,2009):

  • Israel killed 1,391 Palestinians (759 civilian, non-combatants.)

  • 318 under the age of 18

  • Extensive damage to structures and to infrastructure, including electricity, water and sewage facilities that were on the brink of collapse even before the fighting and were now rendered completely dysfunctional.

  • +3,500 homes destroyed

  • Tens of thousands left without shelter or home to return to.

  • During the offensive, Palestinians fired rocket and mortar shells toward Israel, with the deliberate intention of harming civilians. 

    • 3 Israeli civilians killed 

    • 1 member of the Israeli security forces was killed

    • 9 Israeli soldiers were killed, four of them from friendly fire.

Operation Pillar of Defense (8 Days: November 14-22, 2012):

  • Israel killed 167 Palestinians (87 civilian, non-combatants)

  • 32 under the age of 18

  • Extensive damage to civilian infrastructure

  • 4 Israeli civilians killed

  • 2 Israeli security forces killed

Operation Protective Edge (50 Days: July 8-August 26, 2014):

  • Israel killed 2,203 Palestinians (1,371 civilian, non-combatants)

  • 548 (roughly 25%) under the age of 18 killed, (21 were participants in hostilities)

  • ‘Wreaked havoc on civilian infrastructure’

  • 5 Israeli civilians killed, including one child, and one foreign national

  • 63 Israeli soldiers killed

  • 3 additional Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire

  • 1 soldier killed in an accident

Operation Guardian of the Walls (11 Days: May10-21, 2021)

  • 232 Palestinians killed (137 civilian, non-combatants)

  • 53 under the age of 18

  • Buildings and civilian infrastructure destroyed

  • 6 Israeli civilians killed

  • 3 foreign nationals killed

  • 1 member of Israeli security forces

Operation Breaking Dawn (3 Days: August 5-8, 2022)

  • 33 Palestinians killed (17 civilian, non-combatants)

  • 9 under the age of 18

  • Another 15 Palestinians, 9 of them minors, were killed by rockets or mortar shells that Palestinians fired towards Israel and landed within the Gaza Strip.

  • No Israelis were killed

It is important to remember also, as an occupied people, per a number of UN Resolutions, namely  38/17-‘Right of peoples to self-determination – GA resolution’, and 45/130-’Right of peoples to self-determination/Struggle by all available means – GA resolution’:

“Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for their independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”

After years of attempting to liberate themselves, through armed resistance, from underneath the boot heel the Israeli regime, in March of 2018, after 11 years of the blockade, the people of Gaza, who have persevered through some of the most atrocious human rights violations imaginable, who have consistently endured devastating losses of their loved ones, who are without any sign of ever living beyond the wall, confined to a life of struggle and starvation, attempted a largely peaceful protest known as “The Great March of Return”. According to a detailed by report conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): 

“40,000-50,000 Palestinian men, women and children, the

vast majority of them peaceful demonstrators, took to the

perimeter fence separating Gaza from Israel, in popular protest,

to demand the end of the Israeli blockade and the right of

return for refugees”

The report goes on…

“The Commission concluded that lethal force was used by the ISF against children who posed no imminent threat to soldiers and that in several instances there was reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at children intentionally”

“According to OCHA figures, as of 22 March 2019, the ISF have killed 195 Palestinians (including 41 children) and injured nearly 29,000 people (including over 7000 wounded with live ammunition)”

“The GMR has taken a particular toll on children. Twenty per cent (533) of persons treated for GMR-related injuries in UNRWA health clinics were children below 18 years of age…Eighty per cent of all children treated by UNRWA were injured with gunshot wounds.”

“The Commission concluded that lethal force was used by the ISF against children who posed no imminent threat to soldiers and that in several instances there was reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at children intentionally”

Ok, if you’ve made it to this point, we have set the stage for what these brave, unbreakable people have lived through and contended with as they have been facing an unrelenting, highly sophisticated, immoral occupying regime, determined to continue until their stated goals of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population is complete.

Once again, I will ask the reader:

  • Is this a reflection of your values? 

  • What would we do, as an American people intent on maintaining our freedom and right to self determination, if we were faced with a brutal occupation failing to meet even our most basic needs? 

  • How has our country’s unyielding political and financial support of the mass slaughter and starvation of our brothers and sisters in the Occupied Territories of Palestine improved our standing on the world stage and security at home?

If there is still doubt, I encourage everyone to dig into this and find out more. Don’t take my word for it. Seek out information. Engage in conversation. Begin establishing this very important understanding of the struggle the Palestinian people have been living through. Question the popular narrative that “these barbaric Arabs deserve everything imposed upon them”. Look at this from a perspective of humanity and honestly assess what you might do for yourself and your family after being brutalized, maimed, and treated like a subhuman, set aside to be forgotten by the world while starving in a cage. 

So here we are, Oct. 7, 2023, when one of the most sophisticated and carefully coordinated efforts of armed resistance from within Gaza was put into action, in what is believed to be, their final attempt at liberation in a long and grueling saga of brutality and struggle, to finally realize freedom from the apartheid occupying regime.

Let me be very clear, I lament the loss of all civilian lives. Atrocities were committed, and my heart goes out to all individuals impacted in this heartbreaking chapter of human struggle. Let me also be very clear, I do not deny that Hamas committed war crimes on Oct. 7th through the killing of civilians. 

That being said, we must also recognize the fact that many of the claims of atrocities committed, lack evidence or have been wholly discredited/debunked. The initial reports of Beheaded babies, and a baby cut from the pregnant mother to be put into an oven, have been entirely discredited and retracted, yet our media and elected representatives continue to use this as justification to continue this massacre, and further diminish our rights. 

The allegations of mass rape by the NYT, while reprehensible and vile to even think about, also lack any concrete evidence or reliable eyewitness testimony. This has been covered in depth by a number of reliable independent news sites (Electronic Intifada, The Grayzone, and Mondoweiss). Yet this continues to be used as justification for our continued support for Israeli war-crimes. 

It is important to recognize, according to previously cited International Law, the occupied people of Palestine have the right to armed resistance.

Lastly, an often ignored, but a critical element of this event, is the IDF’s implementation of “The Hannibal Directive”, which resulted in an undetermined number of Israeli casualties, both military and civilian, killed by their own forces. This is not a conspiracy theory, there have been wide ranging reports from Israeli media and independent journalists alike, confirming the history and execution of this directive on Oct. 7th.   

With a clear disregard for any sense of journalistic ethics or integrity, news agencies continue to misrepresent the events as they unfold, intent on garnering and sustaining support from the American people and ensuring the continuation of this massacre.

Until an independent study is allowed to be conducted, we will never know the true nature of the events on Oct. 7th. Let me once again be very clear. I am not denying war-crimes were committed, and lament the loss of all civilian life. But we cannot continue to justify our continued support for this massacre based on unverified and proven false claims of the atrocities committed.     

So, let’s put that on the back burner for now and stick to what we know.

Initially, the number of casualties, as  reported by Reuters, on the meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Biden in Israel, Netanyahu stated: 

"On October 7, Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis, maybe more…" He called on countries to rally behind Israel as it wages what he described as a war "between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism". 

As time went on, and further analysis was conducted, the total was downgraded to 1,200, and finally landed at 1,139. Where it stands today. According to France24, and confirmed through multiple media reporting agencies, citing Israeli social security data, as of December 15, 2023, of the 1,139 casualties: 

  • 695 Israeli civilians

    • 36 children

    • 20 under 15 years old (10 killed by rockets)

    • The youngest victim was 10-month-old Mila Cohen

  • 373 security forces

  • 71 foreigners

Along with the tragic deaths of the civilian men, women, and children listed above, 240 hostages were taken by Palestinian Resistance, many of whom remain in captivity today.

Shortly after the Palestinian Resistance executed their attack on the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Times of Israel, a local Israeli daily tabloid, reported, On October 9th, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared:

“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” 

He went on.

“We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained he has “sworn to eliminate Hamas” and “nothing will stop us. We will continue this war until we achieve the three goals: Freeing of all of our hostages, completely eliminating Hamas, and ensuring that no threat like this will ever come from Gaza again.”

Israel continues to act with absolute impunity and complete unyielding support from the U.S. 

In late December, South Africa submitted an “Application Instituting Proceedings” for the court to institute provisional measures intended to prevent the continuation of war-crimes against the people of Gaza. On January 26, the ICJ determined overwhelmingly, there is a “plausible case” of genocide being committed and ordered a number of provisional measures to be implemented by Israel to halt the continuation of their crimes. 

These measures were wholly ignored.

March of 2024, UN Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, determined:

“The overwhelming nature and scale of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the destructive conditions of life it has inflicted reveal an intent to physically destroy Palestinians as a group. This report finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the following acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to groups’ members; and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Genocidal acts were approved and given effect following statements of genocidal intent issued by senior military and government officials.”

Yet, the US continues to deny the clear and present violations of International Law, and our representatives continue to commit Billions of dollars to the continued destruction of life in Gaza.

Since the start of this massacre, tens of thousands of lives have been lost and the numbers continue to mount. No structure is safe as residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure have been completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable or functional.

We are not on the right side of history, and we stand isolated on the world stage. What we are doing is not ensuring peace, or the security of the U.S. Diplomacy is what is needed, but refused around every corner.

As your representative, I will always seek diplomacy before unnecessary commitments to the continuation of war.