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  • Tom Lowe

Why the aid worker attack in Gaza highlights the hypocrisy of the West

By Tom Lowe

Since Hamas’ attacks against Israel on October 7, 33,000 Palestinians, including 25,000 women and children, have died in Gaza. In a little over six months, a million Palestinians have been displaced by the occupying Israel Defence Forces (IDF), whose presence in the Gaza Strip has buttressed the blockade of supplies into the region by the Israeli government. In January alone, 56% of humanitarian aid destined for the region was blocked by Israel.

The war has left Gaza on the brink of famine, with the IDF standing accused of countless war crimes, including collective punishment, the use of white phosphorus, and forcible transfer of civilian populations. Despite this, the beacons of freedom and justice of the West have remained silent, until now.

On April 1, the IDF carried out three strikes that killed seven World Central Kitchen foreign aid workers, with the reaction from the West being immediate and full of condemnation. US President Joe Biden labelled the strikes as ‘unacceptable’ and, along with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, called for an investigation into the killings. According to Sky News, the Israeli-conducted investigation concluded that the strikes were made as a result of ‘incorrect assumptions’, with the IDF apologising profusely for these mistakes.

The attacks on these innocent aid workers were brutal, shocking, and a violation of international law, yet why was the response of the West unrecognisable to that of the killing of 33,000 Palestinians? Israel is the largest cumulative beneficiary of US military aid in history. It has taken six months of death and destruction for President Biden to begin to consider halting this support and pressuring Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to reconsider the siege of Gaza.

The hypocrisy of the West here is astounding. Since October 7, the US, UK, Germany, and many other liberal democracies have been suspiciously silent whilst hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been systematically uprooted from Gaza. Condemnation of the IDF’s brutality has appeared only when Westerners have been added to the casualty list. Polling suggests that the vast majority of Western civilians (76% of the UK and 61% of the US) are in favour of a permanent ceasefire in the region. Yet, these nations continue to quietly supply Israel with the means to continue its barbaric assault.

This is complicity in apartheid at best, and active cooperation at worst. Whilst the increasing support for a ceasefire among civilians is encouraging, as seen through protests across Western cities and university campuses (including Warwick Stands With Palestine’s current occupation of the campus Piazza), there is still a significant gap in priority between the wishes of the many and the few.

Netanyahu and Israeli government ministers have consistently rejected calls for a ceasefire, absolving themselves of responsibility through their consistent orders for Palestinians to ‘evacuate’ the Gaza Strip to avoid the worst of the bombardment. However, little to no assistance has been provided by Israel to enact such a large-scale evacuation and the IDF continues to be relentless in its pursuit of Hamas, often at the cost of untold civilian casualties.

Nevertheless, attitudes, even among Western leaders, appear to be shifting, with President Biden and all 27 EU nations now calling for a permanent and durable ceasefire, whilst PM Sunak has been more moderate in his rhetoric, instead urging for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ in the region. However, the efficacy of Western rhetoric is useless when compared with their historic and contemporary complicity with Israel’s actions in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, approximately 250 Palestinians are slaughtered daily (a death rate higher than any other conflict in the 21st century, according to Oxfam), whilst hundreds of thousands face the horrific risks of starvation and disease.

It should not have taken the deaths of seven foreign aid workers to spur the West into condemning Israel, let alone considering severing all military ties with the nation.

A permanent, lasting ceasefire is the only viable solution to protect innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives. But as it stands, the West seems reluctant to act.

Image: Wikimedia Commons



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