U.S. provides, weapons, diplomatic cover for Israeli ethnic cleansing in Gaza

July 22 — Israel’s horrific assault on the people of Gaza is in its 14th day. Just today, Tel Aviv used its U.S.-supplied arsenal to hit five mosques and a hospital intensive care unit in Deir al-Balah, killing at least five people, including doctors, and wounding at least 70, including 30 medics.

Just today, bombs set 19 fishing vessels aflame, and direct hits demolished many homes, including a residential tower in central Gaza City, killing 11 people, including five children; a home in Khan Younis, wiping out an extended family of 26 gathered for the Ramadan meal; and a home in Rafah, killing 10 people, including four young children and a baby.

The assault has killed more than 575 Palestinians to date. According to the U.N., more than 75 percent of Palestinian casualties are civilians, a marked increase from previous Israeli assaults, and a great many of them children.

Despite the overwhelming force arrayed against them, the people of Gaza are fighting back. Street-to-street resistance by Hamas and other fighters in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaia has left 27 Israeli soldiers dead and one captured. Missiles continue to be fired into Israel. On the West Bank, electricity was cut for several Israeli settlements, and an Israeli checkpoint was taken over.

Obama, Kerry blame Hamas

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has provided the diplomatic cover that allows the murderous assault on Gaza’s civilians to continue. This week, as U.S.-supplied bombs rained on Palestinian homes, Barack Obama twice affirmed Israel’s “right” to defend itself.

Gaza has no army, air force or navy and has been under Israeli siege for six years. It boggles the mind that while Israel fires thousands of high-tech missiles into homes in Gaza, any diplomat could say the “threat” comes from Gaza missiles and tunnels.

Palestinians missiles shot from Gaza into Israel have always been a response to Israeli aggression and denial of Palestinian rights. Not once has the bombing and carnage Israel repeatedly rained on Gaza been able to stop the Palestinian missiles. The way to stop the missiles from Gaza once and for all is to lift the blockade of Gaza and give the people their rights.

U.S., IsraeI seek pro-imperialist cease fire

Now, compelled by the wave of international outrage at sheer horror that its most important ally in the Middle East is inflicting on Gaza, the U.S. government has finally acknowledged — in a convoluted way — the impact of the Israeli army’s murders. On July 21, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself.” (www.aljazeera.com, July 21)

Kerry claims he is rushing to the Middle East to stop the fighting. In reality, he is rushing to the Middle East to try to impose a pro-imperialist cease fire on Hamas and the people of Gaza.

This is the goal of Israel’s deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians — to punish Palestinians in Gaza to such a degree to enable Israel to impose a cease-fire on its own terms, which includes further weakening Hamas’ ability to govern, if not to outright remove Hamas from office.

Hamas has given its terms for a cease-fire, which includes Israel’s lifting the blockade, opening the border with Israel and Egypt, and releasing Palestinian prisoners.

The U.S. and Israeli governments also want to end the unity agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

The “crime” of Gaza’s people is that they elected Hamas to represent them in 2006. For this their homes, hospitals and mosques are now being bombed and their children killed.

Children killed in front of media

From July 8, the first day of bombing, civilians have been the targets. Whole families, a disabled center and ambulances have been deliberately hit. The impunity with which the Israeli government has killed noncombatants, including children, was made clear on July 17. On that day fire from an Israeli ship killed four Palestinian cousins, ages 9 to 11. These children were playing soccer on an empty beach right in front of the hotel housing the international media, so the murders were witnessed by many reporters.

The first shell killed one child, and the other three began to run. As they were running, there was a direct hit on them and the children were blown apart. (Democracy Now! July 17)

This occurred on a “completely empty beach except for the four children,” who were “very, very clearly visible from a distance,” said a reporter from France 24.

Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks explained on Democracy Now! that Israel has “a very sophisticated military and they can see what’s going on, whether from a drone or a ship. They know what they are hitting. It’s pretty hard in my opinion to mistake grown men, Hamas militants, for children no more than 4 feet high, wearing beach clothes, scattering from the initial explosion. …  especially given the 30-second window between the first explosion and the second that killed three of the boys … the next 30 seconds should be enough to assess whether these are children or civilians or actual Hamas militants.”

Civilians redefined as ‘legitimate military targets’

It is further telling that the Israeli military’s response was to call the deaths of the four children a “tragic outcome,” not a “tragic mistake.”

In fact, the Israeli military has invented a whole scenario for declaring Palestinian civilians “legitimate military targets.” This includes a propaganda poster campaign on Twitter that claims that Hamas hides weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals and Palestinian homes, even under bomb shelters, thereby justify their bombing. “The attempt is to transfer civilians into collateral damage, people who can be killed without violating international law,” explained Nicola Perugini in his article, “On ‘human shielding’ in Gaza.” (Al Jazeera, July 18)

Other Israeli military Twitter posters read, “Israel uses weapons to protect its civilians. Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons. Hamas puts Palestinian civilians in the line of fire.”

The reality is that this population of 1.7 million people is trapped in this 25-mile-long strip, with nowhere to go, while it is bombed and shot by the fourth most powerful military in the world. As Israeli soldiers advance with air cover, Tel Aviv claims it warns people to leave. But where would they go? Israel and Egypt control the borders, and will not allow the population to leave Gaza, which is surrounded by concrete walls and fences.

And Israel, which claimed the ground invasion was to find and destroy tunnels dug by Hamas and the Palestinian resistance on the border in Eastern Gaza, now has its troops advancing in the West. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Palestinians are moving away from the borders and into an already-crowded Gaza City.

U. S. Senate vilifies Hamas, backs Israel

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent passed a resolution backing the Israeli invasion and “Israel as it defends itself.” The Senate vote was on July 17, the same day the Israelis killed the four Palestinian children on the beach. The resolution, which vilifies Hamas, calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.”

Ironically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the words that accurately describe the Obama, Kerry and U.S. Senate statements: “They laid the diplomatic foundation that has given us the international credit to operate.” (New York Times, July 21)

Israel justifies its war crimes in Gaza by demonizing Hamas. But Palestinians on the West Bank, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority — which Israel claims to prefer — fare little better than their relatives in Gaza. While Palestinians in Gaza face Israeli bombs and troops, Palestinians on the West Bank face the Israeli version of the Ku Klux Klan. Armed ultra-right settlers, many immigrants from the U.S., terrorize and murder the population there and serve as the advance guard for Tel Aviv’s theft of Palestinian land. A group of the settler Israelis confessed to kidnapping and burning to death 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair, a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

U.S./Israel seek to obliterate Palestinian identity

U.S./Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people predate Hamas’ 1987 founding. Every Palestinian leadership has been demonized and assaulted by Israel since it stole Palestinian land in 1948. Hamas’ missiles and tunnels and the deaths of three Jewish Israelis in the West Bank are all pretexts for a long and carefully planned murderous assault.

The reality is that over the decades, Israeli attacks have been aimed at those who profess Palestinian identity. It is this very identity which IsraeI seeks to obliterate because the very existence of a people calling themselves Palestinian exposes as a lie Israel’s claims of legitimacy for its settler state. This is why this war against Gaza is genocidal in character. This is why the bottom line of this assault — made possible by the U.S. — is ethnic cleansing.

The U.S. and Israeli governments may believe they can deal a decisive blow to the aspirations of the Arab people and tighten their hold on Middle Eastern oil by defeating the Palestinians. But this will not happen. The Palestinian people remain strong and defiant, as they have since their country was stolen in 1948. Their courage in the face of overwhelming odds has sparked demonstrations around the world in solidarity with Palestine.

Here in the U.S., we can show solidarity by cutting through the media distortions, exposing the real intentions of the U.S. and Israel, and increasing pressure on the Obama government to end all aid to Israel and get out of the Middle East.

We are all Gaza!

Joyce Chediac

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Joyce Chediac

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