Palestinians In Gaza Strip Facing Israeli Ethnic Cleansing With Intention Of Genocide: Palestinian BDS National Committee’s Saleh Hijazi

In an interview with Outlook’s Anisha Reddy, Saleh Hijazi, Apartheid-Free Policy Coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, criticises the position of India in the ongoing Israel-Hamas War and terms the Indian absentation in a vote in the United Nations (UN) calling for a ceasefire while also sending aid for the Palestinians as contradictory.

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The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing an ethnic cleansing by Israel with the intention to commit genocide, says Saleh Hijazi, Apartheid-Free Policy Coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee. 

The Palestinian BDS National Committee is a coalition of Palestinian organisations that seek boycotts, divestments, and sanctions directed at Israel in response to the Israeli position in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In an interview with Outlook’s Anisha Reddy, Hijari also criticises the position of India in the ongoing Israel-Hamas War and terms the Indian absentation in a vote in the United Nations (UN) calling for a ceasefire while also sending aid for the Palestinians as contradictory. Excerpts: 

Firstly, could you give me an overview of the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza with respect to healthcare systems, food, water, and other essential resources?

Palestinians are experiencing one of the most devastating humanitarian crises in recent history as a result of Israel systematically violating international law, including indiscriminate bombing, ethnic cleansing, starvation, and denial of humanitarian aid with the intent to commit genocide. Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity have also included forced displacement, indiscriminate bombing, cutting off water, food, medicine, and fuel, and employing “starvation as a weapon of war”, as stated by Oxfam and Palestinian human rights organisations. 

All of this has prompted the prominent Israeli genocide scholar, Raz Segal, to warn of “a textbook case of genocide”. Over 800 international scholars, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, UN experts, as well as Palestinian human rights organisations have also warned of an unfolding Israeli genocide in Gaza. 

In terms of media coverage of the ongoing Israel-Hamas War, be it Indian media or the global media, what kind of narratives have you observed and how does that affect the conflict on the ground?

There is a chasm in the coverage of global media coverage of the genocide in Gaza. Some mainly Western, but also Indian, media have carried the dehumanising narrative of Israel, an apartheid regime as recognised by a vast consensus around the world, without question or any journalistic integrity and have thus been contributing to the enabling of the genocide. Other media, both critical media in the West and the vast majority of media in the Global South have recognised the genocidal reality and have reflected it. 

Do these media narratives also shape policy decisions of countries in terms of delivering humanitarian aid?

Media is the Fourth Estate, a crucial pillar of democracy and the rule of law. Losing credibility and integrity can have real consequences that impact people’s lives. At the time of genocide, it can even become a weapon used in the crime. At the same time the media, when it does its role of uncovering the truth, can be a crucial tool in stopping crimes and helping hold perpetrators accountable. This is why Israel, in its genocidal war, uses its media and mainstream media within ally states to facilitate its genocidal war, while on the other hand, it targets and kills journalists who are carrying out their mission of uncovering the truth. At least 24 Palestinian journalists in Gaza have been killed since the launch of the genocidal war. In an attempt to silence Palestinian journalist Wael Dahdouh, Israel killed his immediate family. 

Could you elaborate on what the BDS campaign is? How was it born and how are you supporting Palestinians’ struggle for freedom, justice, and equality?

BDS is a non-violent, Palestinian-led, global movement that is anchored on the principles of the indivisibility of justice, the intersectionality of struggle, and the ethical duty of do-no-harm. We work to end complicity in Israel’s settler-colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid against the Palestinian people and towards freedom, justice, and equality. Inspired by struggles around the world, including the Indian anti-colonial struggle, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and the civil rights movement in the US, we devise peaceful, popular actions to boycott Israel and institutions, organizations, and corporations that are complicit in its crimes against the Palestinian people. The movement seeks the implementation of international law as the path towards achieving justice, freedom, and equality for Palestinians. 

The movement plays a leading role in the Palestinian justice struggle because it highlights and targets one of the most crucial root causes of apartheid and genocide in Palestine, and that is the complicity of the institutions, organizations, and corporations in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Complicity takes many forms ranging from direct military support to economic investment, to pushing media narratives, to shielding Israel from accountability under international law. BDS works to end this complicity in crimes under international law. 

BDS campaigns are intersectional, as many of the targets are not just harming Palestinians, but also everyone else. An example is Israeli spyware like Pegasus. While this technology has been developed based on repressive surveillance of Palestinians, it has also been used against journalists, activists and opposition leaders in India as well as other countries. Challenging this is in all our interest.

Mass protests against Israel’s actions have erupted across the world, including India, but several pro-Palestine protestors have been targeted and detained by the government in India. With respect to this and India’s statements urging for peace, what do you think of India’s response to the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza? What more can be done?

Across the world people have been protesting and pressuring their governments to take a firm stand, calling on them to implement a ceasefire and stop this genocide. This popular solidarity has certainly influenced governments that voted in favour of the UNGA emergency resolution for humanitarian truce and aid. Amidst this, it was disappointing to see India abstain from voting in favour of such a basic humanitarian demand, given the long history of Indian solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. It is even more contradictory given India has been calling for peace, reiterating its historical position and also sending aid. 


This shift is reflective of deepening ideological ties between India and Israel today, as well as the massive arms and trade ties. Despite this, we see that a large section of Indian people are out there, across cities, protesting for Palestinian rights. If India wishes to retain its leading role in Global South politics, it must pay attention to the words on the street.