Halimah Yacob laments 'degradation of human soul' as Gaza death toll nears 30,000

Gaza's health ministry said at least 29,782 Palestinians have been killed, with another 70,043 injured since Oct. 7, 2023.

Fiona Tan | February 27, 2024, 05:41 PM



"What’s happening in Gaza is so disturbing on so many fronts," former President of Singapore Halimah Yacob said on social media as the civilian death toll in Gaza climbed to nearly 30,000.

According to Gaza's health ministry, which is run by the Hamas government in Gaza, at least 29,782 have been killed and another 70,043 have been injured since the Israel-Hamas war broke out nearly five months ago.

Death and destruction

In a Facebook post on Feb. 26, 2024 commenting on the crisis in Gaza, Halimah noted that most of the civilians killed in the conflict were women and children.

"Those that are alive have nowhere to go as hospitals, homes, power grids, schools, roads and other civilian infrastructures have been completely destroyed", she said, adding:

"They are bombed from the land, sea and air in Rafah in Southern Gaza. Earlier they were told to leave northern Gaza which they did only to be killed later."

"The degradation of the human soul"

Halimah lamented the degradation of the human soul, saying that it is "so apparent" when food trucks promised safe passage into Gaza were bombed, when images of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers revelling in the death and destruction emerged, and when "grandmothers and mothers" proudly declaring they would block aid from reaching needy Palestinians, including children, were broadcasted on television.

Remarking that "our natural instincts are to protect the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us", Halimah questioned the ethicality of what has been happening in the Israel-Hamas war.

"What’s happened to the human soul? "After this is over, will the same people be able to live with their consciences knowing that they contributed to the deaths and destruction of thousands of innocent lives?" "

"Stand on the side of humanity"

There is also "obvious" degradation of the human soul on the global front as the world dithers in ceasefire efforts, Halimah said.

"International laws and international bodies are rendered irrelevant. The consensus built after the horrors of WW2, to protect the innocents during wars has been severely compromised. The world is forever changed," she said.

She made fresh calls for the public to "stand on the side of humanity".

This is not the first time the former president has used such language in commenting on the crisis in Gaza.

Halimah appealed to the public to "stand on the side of humanity" and not be "indifferent" to pain and suffering in December 2023, when the death toll in Gaza surpassed 17,000 civilians two months into the Israel-Hamas war.

The Israel-Hamas war broke out after Palestinian militant group Hamas sprung a deadly terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

It is believed to be one of the worst civilian massacres in Israeli history, leaving at least 1,139 dead while 240 were taken hostage.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam shared Halimah's Feb. 26 Facebook post and added: "Our ex-President Madam Halimah has spoken powerfully, and I agree with her."

Ramadan approaching

In the four months since Oct. 7, 2023, both sides have only agreed to a temporary ceasefire once — between Nov. 24 and 30, 2023 — despite global calls for a ceasefire.

Singapore voted in favour of a humanitarian ceasefire twice in the respective United Nations (UN) general assemblies on Oct. 27 and Dec. 12, 2023, and has called for a provision of humanitarian support, as well as a two-state solution in the long term.

However, both Singapore's representative to the UN and Shanmugam noted two points left out of the October resolution, namely:

"The terrorist attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 must still be condemned, and it cannot be justified;

While Israel's right to self-defence needs to be noted, that right to self-defence cannot include indiscriminate killing of civilians, and it must be done in accordance with international law."

Calls for a ceasefire are mounting and all eyes turn to Israel and Hamas once more as Ramadan approaches, with many Muslims observing the holiest month in the Islamic calendar by fasting.

Biden: 40-day ceasefire as soon as Mar. 4

According to Reuters and The Guardian, United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden said negotiations are underway for a deal which could see a temporary ceasefire starting as early as Mar. 4.

Mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the U.S. are seeking a 40-day, roughly six-week, truce that would last through Ramadan.

"There's been an agreement by the Israelis that they would not engage in activities during Ramadan as well, in order to give us time to get all the hostages out," Biden said during an appearance on NBC’s "Late Night with Seth Meyers".

The show was recorded on Feb. 26 and broadcast the next day.

Reuters revealed the details of the draft proposal, which includes an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one.

According to Reuters, the draft states that Hamas would free 40 Israeli hostages including women, children under 19, elderly over 50 and the sick, while Israel would release about 400 Palestinian prisoners and will not re-arrest them.

Reuters further reported that the draft proposal also stated that hospitals and bakeries in Gaza are to be repaired and 500 aid trucks must be allowed to enter Gaza every day.

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Top image from @eye.on.palestine and @fopnetwork.en on Instagram