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Met Gala decried after Israel continues assault in Rafah

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What is often referred to as the biggest night in fashion took place on Monday in New York City. The Met Gala, always scheduled for the first Monday of May, allows A-list celebrities to walk the carPet in a display of avant-garde fashion as they raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

While the public usually enjoys picking apart their favourite looks, this year's Met Gala — co-chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Latin artist Bad Bunny, and actors Zendaya, Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Lopez — was met with severe backlash from netizens due to the worsening situation in Gaza.

What was happening in Rafah?

On the same day, Israel announced that Palestinians in eastern Rafah would have to evacuate, as they planned a ground invasion of the city, which caused global alarm. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Anto­nio Guterres, condemned the order and said it would be “impossible to carry out safely”.

Millions of Palestinians were living and taking refuge in Rafah, yet the Israeli military continued to move several brigades closer to the city. Israel Defense Forces also announced on Monday that it had begun "conducting targeted strikes against Hamas terror targets in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip."

Real-life 'Hunger Games'

As we watched both the glamorous fashion being flaunted at the Met Gala and the horrifying footage of Palestinians’ struggles from behind a screen, it seems that what was once an event many would look forward to, was now seen as taking place in bad taste.

It’s safe to say that every single outfit at the Met Gala cost thousands of dollars, meanwhile in Gaza, the threat of famine, death and destruction hung in the air. The stark contrast between the two simultaneously occurring events has been compared to The Hunger Games trilogy on social media, with people likening the celebrities walking the Met carpet to the rich and heartless members of the Capitol while the districts, in this case, the Palestinians, fight for survival. “The Met Gala is really giving the Capitol vibes while a genocide is happening in Gaza,” an X user wrote.

Another user pointed out, “The Hunger Games comparisons is insane, because we’re oohing and aahing over people in pretty gowns while children are being literally murdered. We’re living it.”

These were just some of the comparisons being made on social media. Others took to comparing celebrities on the red carPet and those mourning their deceased loved ones in Gaza. “Nine men tenderly placed Cardi B’s dress on the Met Gala floor. Yet the solitary bodies of infants bombed in Gaza by the US and Israel weigh heavier,” an X user wrote.

There was also mass outrage when the prices of the Met Gala tickets were made public. With each ticket being upwards of $75,000, many expressed their disgust at the fact that the same amount of money could be used to evacuate multiple families in Rafah.

Coincidence or distraction?

Many have also taken the opportunity to bring up that Israel is known for using large-scale, high-profile events as a distraction to carry out military operations in Gaza. As people’s timelines were flooded with footage from the Gala it was clear that it was possible for Israel to distract people from their aggressions. An X user maintained that “Israel always intensifies the bombing when they know the world will be distracted by a major event”.

Another user wrote, “While you’re distracted by the Met Gala, people in Rafah, the last designated ‘safe zone’ in Palestine, are being murdered by Israel.”

Pro-Palestine protests

While the majority expressed their distaste for the event online, from all over the world, a massive group of Pro-Palestinian protesters flooded the streets near the annual Met Gala chanting “Rafah!, Gaza!”, intending to crash the gala. They were swiftly confronted by the New York City Police Department.

The protest came amid news of Hamas agreeing to terms on a ceasefire, with Israel holding out—saying the deal fell short and required more negotiating—before continuing with a planned strike into Rafah. The Manhattan demonstrators carried banners in support of Rafah, with a pro-Palestinian advocacy group that organised the protest stating on social media that people were "Flooding the streets of New York City in defence of Rafah and all of Palestine."

Since then, Israeli tanks and planes attacked several areas in Gaza overnight. The Gaza Health ministry reported 54 Palestinians were killed and 96 others were wounded in the past 24 hours.

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