Israeli deceptions revealed in story of ‘kidnapped’ soldier
A single incident at the weekend – the reported capture by Hamas on Friday of an Israeli soldier through a tunnel – illustrated in stark fashion the layers of deception Israel has successfully cast over its attack on Gaza.
On Sunday, as the army indicated it would start limited withdrawals, Israel claimed Hadar Goldin was dead, possibly buried in a collapsed tunnel as Israel bombarded the area in which he was seized. His family said he was being left behind.
Israeli officials or media did not view Hamas’ operation dispassionately. Goldin was not “captured” but “kidnapped” – as though he was an innocent seized by opportunistic criminals.
As occurs so often, many western journalists followed Israel’s lead. The London Times’ front page blared: “Kidnapped in Gaza”, while the Boston Globe called him the “abducted Israeli soldier”.
From western reactions, it was also clear the soldier’s capture was considered more significant news than any of the massacres of Palestinian civilians over the past weeks.
Israel’s cynical calculus – that one soldier is more valuable than large numbers of dead Palestinian civilians – was echoed in the diplomatic and editorial corridors of Washington, London and Paris.
Misleading too was the general agreement that, in attacking a group of soldiers in Rafah and seizing Goldin, Hamas had violated the first moments of a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
The Washington Post reported on the circumstances as a Hamas suicide bomber emerged from a tunnel to explode his vest, killing two soldiers, and Goldin was pulled into the shaft. “>On Friday morning, Israeli troops were in the southern Gaza Strip preparing to destroy a Hamas tunnel, said Israeli military officials. Suddenly, Palestinian militants emerged from a shaft.”
CBS reporter Charlie D’Agata parroted the same Israeli briefings, also inadvertently exposing the central deceit. The soldier was “suspected of being kidnapped during an operation to clear tunnels – crucially, [officials] say, this happened after the ceasefire was supposed to take place.”
So if a ceasefire was in place, what were Goldin and his comrades doing detonating tunnels, tunnels in which Israel says Hamas is hiding? Were Hamas fighters supposed to simply wait to be entombed in their bunkers during the pause in hostilities? Or was Israel the one violating the ceasefire?
And then there was the explosion of military fury as Israel realised its soldier was missing. Israeli correspondents have admitted that the notorious “Hannibal procedure” was invoked: the use of all means to stop a soldier being taken alive, including killing him. The rationale is to prevent the enemy gaining a psychological advantage in negotiations.
The unleashing of massive firepower appeared designed to ensure Goldin and his captors never made it out of their tunnel, but in the process Israel killed dozens of Palestinians.
It was another illustration of Israel’s absolute disregard for the safety of civilians. At least three-quarters of the more than 1,700 Palestinians killed so far are non-combatants, while almost all Israeli casualties have been soldiers. This has been a pattern in all Israel’s recent confrontations.
Israel’s official justifications for taking the fight into Gaza have been layered with deceit too.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that Israel was dragged into a war of necessity. Barack Obama echoed him: Israel had a right to defend itself from a barrage of rockets fired out of Gaza. Later the pretext became Israel’s need to destroy the “terror tunnels”.
The logic is deeply flawed. Israel is occupying and besieging Gaza, conferring on its inhabitants a right under international law to fight for their freedom. How does the oppressor, the lawbreaker have a right to self-defence? If Israel objects to being scratched and bruised, it should stop choking its victim.
The degree to which Israel’s narrative of “self-defence” has come to dominate news coverage and diplomatic statements was revealed in a CNN interview. Anchor Carol Costello asked a baffled interviewee in all seriousness: “Why doesn’t Hamas just show Israel where these tunnels are?”
Equally significantly, Israel has obscured the truth that it picked this particular round of its ongoing confrontation with Hamas – and did so entirely cynically.
A BBC reporter recently confirmed with an Israeli police spokesman a rumour that had been circulating among military correspondents for weeks. The group behind the abduction in June of three Israeli teens in the West Bank – the trigger for Israel’s campaign against Hamas – was a lone cell, acting on its own.
Claiming precisely the opposite – that he had cast-iron proof Hamas was responsible – Netanyahu gave the army free rein to arrest hundreds of Hamas members and smash the organisation’s institutions in the West Bank.
The crackdown created the necessary provocation: Hamas allowed Gaza’s factions to start firing limited numbers of rockets. Analyst Nathan Thrall noted recently that Hamas had impressed the Israeli army until that point by enforcing the ceasefire agreed with Israel 18 months earlier, even though Israel violated the terms by maintaining Gaza’s siege.
Now the rockets gave Netanyahu an excuse to strike.
So what was his real reason for going into Gaza? What were these many deceptions designed to hide?
It seems Netanyahu wanted to end a strategic threat: not Hamas rockets or tunnels, but the establishment of a unity government between Hamas and its long-time rivals Fatah. Palestinian unity risked reviving pressure on him to negotiate, or face a renewed and more credible Palestinian campaign for statehood at the United Nations.
But Hamas’ unexpectedly impressive martial display against Israel – killing dozens of soldiers, firing long-range rockets into Israel throughout, closing briefly the sole international airport, launching attacks into Israeli territory, and causing a loss to the economy estimated so far at more than $4bn – may have changed the calculus again.
For the moment, Netanyahu seems to prefer to pull back Israeli soldiers rather than be forced under international pressure to negotiate with Hamas. He knows that its key demand will be that Israel end the siege.
But in the longer term, Netanyahu may need Palestinian unity, at least on his terms, to undermine Hamas’ gains.
As Israel began its attack on Gaza, Netanyahu turned his attention to the West Bank. He warned that there could never be “any agreement in which we relinquish security control” over it for fear that, given the West Bank’s larger size, Israel might “create another 20 Gazas”.
He was ruling out any hope of Palestinian statehood. A “demilitarised” entity, heavily circumscribed and absolutely dependent on Israel and the US, seems to be all that Israel will ever put on the table.
Allowing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah into Gaza could justify loosening the siege. But only as long as Abbas agrees to remove Hamas’ military infrastructure and export to the coastal enclave the model he has established in the West Bank – of endless accommodation to Israeli and US dictates.
Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).
Updated at 4:41 pm (GMT+3): At least 10 people were killed Sunday in a fresh strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by a brutal Israeli military offensive, medics said.
Renewed Israeli shelling killed more than 30 people in Gaza on Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep up pressure on Hamas even after the army destroys Gaza’s tunnel network.
Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said dozens of people were wounded in the attack which took place in the southern city of Rafah, which straddles the border with Egypt.
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said the school had been housing thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) who had been forced to flee their homes by the ongoing violence in Gaza.
“Shelling incident in vicinity of UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering almost 3,000 IDP. Initial reports say multiple deaths and injury,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.
An AFP correspondent said there were scenes of chaos at the site, with rescuers trying to evacuate the wounded any way they could, while adults were seen sprinting frantically away through pools of blood, young children clutched in their arms.
It was the third time in 10 days that a UN school had been hit and came four days after Israeli tank shells slammed into a school in the northern town of Jabalia, killing 16 in an attack furiously denounced by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as “reprehensible.”
Robert Serry, U.N. Middle East Special Coordinator, said he was dismayed at reports of the school attack.
“It is simply intolerable that another school has come under fire while designated to provide shelter for civilians fleeing the hostilities,” he said.
Israeli shelling on Sunday pushed the Gaza death toll given by Palestinian officials to more than 1,766, the vast majority of them civilians. At least 9,320 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli forces.
At least 398 Palestinians killed in Gaza are under the age of 18, but the surviving children also suffer in great numbers from injuries and psychological trauma. UNICEF estimates that 326,000 minors in Gaza are in need of psychological help.
Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian shelling has also killed two Israeli civilians and one Thai laborer.
Fatah leader and Rafah resident Ashraf Goma said Israeli forces were bombarding the town from air, ground and sea and locals were unable to deal with the wounded and the dead.
“Bodies of the wounded are bleeding in the streets and other corpses are laid on the road with no one able to recover them.”
“I saw a man on a donkey cart bringing seven bodies into the hospital. Bodies are being kept in ice-cream refrigerators, in flower and vegetable coolers,” Goma told Reuters.
Israel redeploying ground troops in Gaza Strip
The attack came as an Israeli army spokesman said the Zionist state was redeploying troops across the Gaza Strip.
“We are removing some (forces), we are changing from within,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP on Sunday, describing it as “an ongoing mission.”
“We are redeploying within the Gaza Strip and taking out other different positions, and relieving other forces from within, so it won’t be the same type of ground operation,” he told AFP.
“But indeed we will continue to operate … (and) have a rapid reaction force on the ground that can engage Hamas if required,” he added.
“It’s changing gear but it’s still ongoing.”
His remarks came a day after the Israeli army gave a first indication it was ending operations in parts of Gaza, informing residents of Beit Lahia and al-Atatra in the north that it was “safe” to return home.
Witnesses in the north confirmed seeing troops leaving the area as others were seen pulling out of villages east of Khan Younis in the south.
It was the first time troops had been seen pulling back since the start of the Israeli operation which began on July 8.
Lerner confirmed troops had pulled out of Beit Lahia and al-Atatra, but refused to be drawn on whether the pullout would expand into other areas hit by heavy fighting.
“In the next 24 hours we will see the activity continued on the ground and the redeployment in parallel,” he said, without elaborating.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirmed that the Israeli Occupation Forces troops had withdrawn “most of its troops” from Gaza on Sunday, without marking an end to the Israeli offensive.
Israel snubs truce talks after death of captured soldier
In Cairo, a Palestinian delegation arrived for new truce talks. After accusing Hamas of breaching a US- and UN-brokered ceasefire on Friday, Israel said it would not send envoys as scheduled.
Exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal insisted that the Palestinian side had not broken a short-lived ceasefire on Friday, putting the spotlight on Israel.
“A truce is a truce. but the presence of the Israeli forces inside Gaza and destroying the tunnels means it is an aggression,” he told CNN in an interview late Saturday.
A spokesman for the Islamist movement mocked Netanyahu’s statements as “confused”, and as testimony of the “real crisis” he was facing.
“We will continue our resistance till we achieve our goals,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.
Israel intensified attacks in the area of Rafah along the border with Egypt, where an Israeli officer was thought to have been captured there on Friday.
Medics said at least 110 people were killed in Rafah in 24 hours. Meanwhile, Israeli air strikes and tank fire continued pounding huge areas of southern Gaza into rubble, killing scores more people on Saturday.
Hamas had claimed responsibility for the ambush that captured the army officer, but said the group has lost contact with the fighters involved in the operation, and suggested that they, along with their prisoner of war, may have been killed by Israeli shelling.
The talks in Cairo, without Israeli participation, were unlikely to produce any breakthrough, as Israel and Hamas’ positions remain far apart.
Israel argues that it must be allowed to act against Hamas’ rocket arsenal and tunnel network in the framework of any long-term truce.
Hamas demands Israel withdraw its troops and a lifting of the blockade that has choked Gaza’s economy.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a member of Netanyahu’s decision-making security cabinet, said any agreement on the issue was still far off.
“You want to talk about lifting the blockade? Not with us, and not now,” she told the news website Ynet TV.
Crowded Gaza towns close to the Israeli border have seen destructive clashes and the flight of tens of thousands of Palestinians as tanks and troops swept in to confront dug-in guerrillas.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 520,000 people had been displaced by the fighting – more than a quarter of Gaza’s population.
An “insufferable price”
Several Israeli newspapers reported that cabinet ministers have taken a decision not to seek a further negotiated ceasefire agreement with Hamas and were considering ending the military operation unilaterally.
But there appeared to be little further indication Israel was planning to wrap up its operations, with Netanyahu promising that Hamas would pay “an insufferable price” for cross-border rocket fire. There was no mention of the insufferable price paid by Palestinian civilians in the military offensive.
“We will take as much time as necessary, and will exert as much force as needed,” he said at a news conference.
Israeli troops were working on destroying a complex network of tunnels used by Palestinian fighters before the next security objectives would be decided, he said, warning that “all options” were on the table.
This statement contradicted earlier claims by Israel, which had said that the tunnels were its main objective in its deadly assault on Gaza.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
But What’s In It For Americans?
It is a familiar scenario. Israeli is killing hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children, and the Zionist propaganda machine is working overtime. The President of the United States reaffirms America’s solemn pledge to protect Israel at all costs and justifies the carnage by stating that Israel has a right to defend itself. Secretary of State John Kerry repeats the message and the US House and Senate pass unanimously American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) drafted resolutions affirming the same.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lies repeatedly and the US media gives him a bully pulpit to spread his disinformation about what is occurring, including the propaganda cartoon depicted above explaining why he had to use artillery and bombs to level a residential district, killing nearly 100 civilians in what was described as a “heinous massacre.”
The mainstream media obligingly toes the line, depicting something like a battle between equals pitting the Israeli Army (IDF) against Hamas militants, obfuscating the essential asymmetry of a conflict that has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians civilians. A very large percentage of the commentators on television and radio as well the authors of mainstream print media opinion are American and Israeli Jews, to include a piece by Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current CNN “expert,” entitled “Israel Must be Permitted to Crush Hamas” as well as the featured appearances by Prime Minister Netanyahu on national television.
Oren’s call to crush Hamas is particularly ironic as it runs directly contrary to American interests. The US intelligence community believes that the group would likely be succeeded by something far more radical. The media, Congress, and Netanyahu all also connive to ignore the deliberate targeting of civilians to include hospitals, schools and private homes by the IDF, producing massive infrastructure damage and increasing the numbers of dead and wounded. The US media did not report how Israelis watching the bombing from their lawn chairs on a hill near Sderot were photographed cheering and applauding each time a target in Gaza exploded. They were also sharing popcorn and one described the event as “just good fun.”
Also missing in the discussion is the damage that the conflict does to the United States, which is seen throughout the world as Israel’s puppet, manifested most recently when Washington alone opposed and will presumably veto any United Nations inquiry into possible war crimes connected to the Gaza conflict.
America diplomats are supposed to support American interests while the Founding Fathers created an army and navy to defend the United States, not Israel, a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of many in the White House, Congress and in the media. In reality, Washington has no obligation to protect the Netanyahu government in international fora nor is there any treaty obligation to defend Israel or anyone else outside the NATO alliance. Israel is neither an ally nor is its self-defined security a compelling US national interest if one excludes the drumbeat of the domestic lobby that protects it no matter how badly it behaves.
The sequence of events leading up to the current slaughter is clear, though Israel’s friends pretend that it all started when the first homemade rocket landed inside Israel, justifying any subsequent steps necessary for “defense.” But the Israel-Palestine problem truly began in 1948, when armed Jews deliberately terrorized and then drove more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. It was exacerbated when in 1967 the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began, leading to the creation and expansion of illegal settlements on Arab land.
The current cycle of violence, rooted in the denial of viable statehood for the Palestinian people, began in April when Israel deliberately torpedoed US brokered peace talks by accelerating settlement building and failing to comply with an agreement to release prisoners. On May 15 th Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian teenagers, an event that was videoed. They were among the 26 Palestinians killed by Israelis since January, with no one being held accountable. Four weeks later three Israeli teenagers from Hebron were kidnapped and later discovered dead. Netanyahu, who knew that the three young men were already dead and that the abduction had not been carried out by Hamas cynically used the kidnapping as a pretext to attack Hamas in the West Bank, blaming the group for the crime without producing one shred of evidence. An Arab teenager was subsequently burned to death by Jewish extremists and the boy’s American citizen cousin was badly beaten by police when he joined a demonstration.
Netanyahu may or may not have cared who was killing or kidnapping whom on a micro level, but he knew a good opportunity when he saw one. He took advantage of the situation to launch a plan to destroy Hamas and pari passu the Palestinian unity government. Hundreds of arrests were made, again without any evidence linking those detained with the kidnapping, and homes of suspects were demolished. When Hamas in Gaza eventually struck back with its homemade rockets, killing or injuring no one, Israel unleashed its modern army and air force on the largely unarmed and defenseless Palestinians.
Israel also has found allies in the usual places in the US media and political circles to help explain the ensuing massacre. Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed and reported the killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach was ordered by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately, presumably because he had strayed from the acceptable message, which is that the deaths of Palestinians is somehow their own fault. CNN also “reassigned” reporter Diana Magnay who tweeted regarding an Israeli mob that threatened her when she filmed their celebration of missile strikes in Gaza. She called her attackers “scum” and was quickly removed.
The far fewer deaths of Israelis in the conflict are, however, rather more celebrated than the mass high tech execution of Palestinians. American volunteers in the IDF are depicted as somehow doing their patriotic duty, albeit in a foreign army. The Washington Post described how the “Death of two Americans in Israel brings conflict home.” Both men identified in the article though born in the US had chosen to live in Israel, producing some pushback in the blog comments. One noted that bearing arms for a foreign country that is not in NATO is illegal (and used to lead to automatic loss of citizenship) while another comment observed that if you are by choice fighting in a foreign army you are no longer really American. I might add that directly supporting Israel’s militarized colonization of Palestinian lands is against stated US government policy and does actual damage to American interests.
The Gazans are, to be sure, an easy target, crowded into a narrow strip of land with no place to go as they are controlled on all sides by Egypt and Israel. Fleeing inhabitants cannot even turn to the sea which is controlled by the Israeli navy. A comprehensive ten year truce offer by Hamas has been rebuffed by Israel and the slaughter will presumably continue until Netanyahu decides to stop. The United Nations has suggested that what Israel is doing might fit the definition of a war crime, just as was the case back in 2009 for Operation Cast Lead, when more than 1,400 Gazans were killed and schools run by the UN were deliberately targeted, as has been the case also currently.
That the US is so tied to a rogue nation like Israel would be incomprehensible but for the action of what has been described as the Israel Lobby. As Harvard Professor Stephen Walt puts it, “AIPAC is the only explanation for America’s morally bankrupt Israel policy.” Israel is in reality a place that most Americans would find unsympathetic. It is a corrupt theocracy that denies equal rights to Christians and Muslims, a fact that is conveniently overlooked by Congress and the media. There is also a strong dose of racism and ethnocentrism in its political matrix, with broad popular support for either disenfranchising or expelling all non-Jews. Or even killing them, with crowds in Tel Aviv routinely chanting “Death to Arabs.”
An Israeli member of parliament Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party has called all Palestinians terrorists, saying women should be especially targeted for killing during the ongoing Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip because they give birth to “little snakes.” She explained “They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists,” adding “They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.” A prominent Rabbi has also endorsed complete destruction of Gaza and genocide, as a “deterrent measure to exterminate the enemy.”
Perhaps most discouraging is the visceral hatred directed at American critics of Israeli policies that surfaces occasionally among that nation’s most zealous supporters. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, former Michael Jackson spiritual adviser and self-designated “America’s Rabbi,” has penned a piece entitled, “By Condemning Israel, Presbyterians Condemn Themselves.” He writes regarding the Presbyterian decision to divest from companies supporting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, stating that “The rotting corpse of the Presbyterian Church suffered another nail in the coffin with its general convention vote on Friday to divest from companies doing business with Israel.”
Boteach, who has also become close to a number of prominent politicians, received no mainstream censure for this comments attacking a major Christian denomination in the vilest terms. His article also plays fast and loose with the facts. He observes “In the wake of the Oslo Accords, in which Israel granted the PLO political autonomy in the West Bank, about 60,000 Americans were murdered in Israel.” Since Oslo in 1993 the actual figure for dead Americans, many of whom were Israeli dual nationals, is 53.
That the United States has provided political support for a monster like Benjamin Netanyahu is criminal but it is a tribute to the grip that Israel’s lobby has on America’s political class and media. For starters, one might reasonably suggest that people like Boteach and the American volunteers including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel who go to fight for Israel while eschewing any service in the US Army should perhaps move permanently to the country that they love most. The charge of dual loyalty which surfaces regularly regarding Israel’s most passionate Jewish supporters misses the point. Boteach and his friends, most certainly to include the likes of multi billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas, have no dual loyalty at all. Their only concern is for Israel and they stay in the United States to cash in and to make sure that the rest of the American people are coerced and propagandized sufficiently so as to guarantee that the US will remain Israel’s patsy. But more and more Americans are waking up to the fraud and the ongoing slaughter of another thousand or so Palestinians in Gaza virtually guarantees that there will be more questions about the relationship with Israel than answers. Eventually the truth will out.
Here’s a hugely significant story that I suspect will get almost no play outside Palestinian solidarity sites. Mickey Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, has told BBC reporter Jon Donnison that there are no grounds for believing Hamas ordered the abduction of three Israeli teens on June 12. Rather, the police say, it was carried out by a rogue cell from Hebron with a loose political affiliation to Hamas.
It was those abductions, and Israel’s response in blaming Hamas and rounding up and jailing hundreds of its activists in the West Bank, that triggered Hamas rocket fire that in turn was used by Israel to justify its attack on Gaza, which is currently killing hundreds of civilians.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated at the time that he had cast-iron evidence that Hamas was behind the abductions and the movement would pay a “heavy price”. He never produced that evidence. But now Israel’s police force itself concedes that Hamas was not involved.
Many of us, of course, suspected that Netanyahu was using the abductions as a pretext to destroy the unity government Hamas and Fatah had recently set up after years of conflict. Now we have official confirmation.
I wonder why, given the great scoop he has, Donnison appears only to have tweeted about this. It’s now more than 24 hours since he went public with the information. Is he waiting for another news outlets to beat him to the story? Or is he tweeting it because he knows the BBC isn’t interested in running a story so embarrassing to Israel?
Anyway, kudos to him for getting the scoop, even if no one seems interested in it. Another one down the memory hole.
The Zionist entity’s impudence knows no limits! As the death toll of the brutal Israeli offensive on the besieged strip of Gaza passes 630, with most of them children and women, Tel Aviv calls for giving it a Noble prize!
The Nobel Peace Prize should be given to Israeli forces for their “unimaginable restraint” in their offensive against the blockaded Gaza Strip, said the Israeli envoy to the United States, Ron Dermer, at a pro-Israeli event in Washington on Tuesday.
The Israeli forces “should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint,” Dermer said, claiming the Israeli soldiers do not “target a single Palestinian civilian.”
“Our soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live,” he said, censuring Human Rights Watch for its criticism of the Israeli aggression.
At a different event in Tal Aviv, UN chief Ban Ki-moon extended his condolences to the Israeli regime for its losses during the offensive against the besieged sliver.
According to Palestinian medical workers, more than 160 Gazan children have been among the martyrs.
Earlier in the day, Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), put child fatalities from the 15-day offensive at 121, adding that more than 900 Palestinian children were also injured.
With these words still hovering around his mouth, “We reject all cruel behavior”, Benjamin Netanyahu launched yet another attack with yet another movie title, Operation Protective Edge, on the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in a state of siege and oppression in the Gaza Strip.
All this week, I’ve wandered online sites, taking the pulse of my US neighbors whose tax dollars and mine support the war crimes. On a random stopover that’s not one of my usual destinations, I read this reader comment: “Muslims understand one thing better than anything else, that is the point of a gun in their face. I hope Israel goes in and makes a parking lot out of the damn place.”
Another provided a sign, promoting Zionism: “IN ANY WAR BETWEEN THE CIVILIZED MAN AND THE SAVAGE, SUPPORT THE CIVILIZED MAN. SUPPORT ISRAEL DEFEAT JIHAD.”
At what’s considered a liberal news venue there was this entry:
“I guess the ‘civilized’ world expects Israel and the Jewish people to just sit there like idiots and absorb the blows. IMO Israel would be justified in leveling Gaza. Enough is enough.”
Logical response to a rain of rockets. Now the Palistinians [sic] want world sympathy for the wreckage they wrought on themselves. So, the cries go out for restrant [sic] but how do you restrain the rocketeers? Tough solutions in a tough neighborhood.
The people of Gaza are labeled militants, as terror explodes their lives, terror unleashed by the Israeli military, terror funded by the US. Last week, after a sixteen-year-old Arab was burned alive in a reprisal killing to avenge the deaths of three Israeli teens, Netanyahu uttered that condemnation, rejecting “all cruel behavior…”—adding that this “could not be accepted by human beings.” But Israel is burning alive the people of Gaza, burning alive the children of Gaza, burning that could not continue without US complicity.
And it is nothing new. It’s been going on for decades. The unacceptable is accepted, and getting worse.
As Israel persists with the genocide of Palestinians, I think about the propaganda I believed when I was young—that my country intervened heroically and always on the side of justice. This misinformation is required to perpetuate the myth of the USA—as a benevolent nation.
It’s Wednesday evening and I’ve just read that Israel has struck 200 Gaza sites. Netanyahu asserts that Israel “rejects all cruel behavior” but 12 children are reported dead. One was 18 months old. Most likely, many more are injured, traumatized. Israeli ground troops are amassing for an incursion. (During the 2008-09 three-week assault called Operation Cast Lead, 353 children were killed and another 860 were injured.)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “The war is not against Hamas or any faction, but against the Palestinian people.”
The death knell is blaring. Gaza is burning. Palestinians are burning alive. Operation Protective Edge is not an effort to defend a perimeter; it is part of a plan, conceived to obliterate a population.
zionists watch the woes
inflicted on Gaza, with glee,
hideous smiling spectator badges
stamped on their foreheads
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: a ceasefire with Palestinians is not “even on the agenda”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians, asking the international community to take actions to stop the violence in Gaza.
“It is now more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to calm,” Ban said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.
The UN chief expressed his concerns over the “Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations.” He said, Israel has carried out more than 500 air strikes and that the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas responded with firing more than 550 rockets.
Ban said some 900 Palestinians have been displaced in the besieged Gaza Strip since Israel began its offensive on Tuesday, while 150 homes were destroyed. He put the death toll at 88 and noted that about 340 others were injured.
“It is clear that the international community must accelerate efforts to achieve an immediate halt to this escalation and reach a durable ceasefire,” he also told the council.
Ban’s remarks came only hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Knesset’s foreign affairs and military committee that a ceasefire with Palestinians is not “even on the agenda.”
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour has said Tel Aviv began the violence in the enclave.
“They started the attack against our people … and the rockets started after that,” he said after briefing the council.
He stressed that Palestinians would honor any ceasefire in Gaza, but it is clear that Israelis “are not interested in a ceasefire and stopping the rockets.”
“The Palestinian people are united … and we hope the Security Council can act in accordance with its responsibilities,” Mansour added.
From the Gov.uk website:
‘The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this evening about the situation in Israel. The Prime Minister strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians. The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel’s right to defend itself from them’.
So then, Israel simply defending itself from Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians.
The actual facts, of course, speak of a somewhat different reality. According to medical sources in the Gaza strip:
Number of Israelis killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: 0
Number of Palestinians killed since the launch of ‘Operation Protective Edge’: ‘at least 47′, of which 41 were civilians, and 12 children.
Nevermind that the very idea of ‘defending yourself’ against a people you have spent decades occupying, dispossessing, racially oppressing, collectively punishing and generally brutalising is a complete nonsense.
It doesn’t need me to point out that David Cameron’s supposed ‘humanitarianism’ and commitment to ‘freedom’ – which we are told was behind his decision to bomb Libya, and to almost bomb Syria – is a complete sham. He is simply the latest mouthpiece for a British Establishment that has long both committed and supported the perpetration of war crimes and atrocities in the service of colonial domination, while talking the language of human rights and freedom.
But statements like that one help to drive the point home.
And they illuminate where the BBC have been taking their lead from, perhaps:
(BBC News Online front page, circa 01:00 A.M., July 9th 2014)
A broad moral gulf separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we mercy and compassion. That is the secret of our strength. -Benjamin Netanyahu, at the funeral of three slain Israeli teenagers.
Israel shows no morality, no mercy, and no compassion for Palestinians. Israel’s strength is not a mystery. Their power is dependent on their belief that they are God’s Chosen, on sophisticated weaponry, US tax dollars, and bipartisan Congressional support of Zionism that renders any “peace process” a charade.
During the funeral, right-wing protestors screamed for blood, “Death to Arabs.”
“There is no forgiveness for murderers of children,” said Israeli Economy Minister Naphtali Bennett. “Now is a time for actions, not words.” And action it was, has been for years, and is. Without due process, the Israeli military exploded family homes of two suspects—an uncivilized reaction that continues a cycle of retribution. Go door-to-door, terrorizing men, women, and children. Destroy homes. Bomb them. Strike Gaza. Don’t investigate to determine who’s responsible for the kidnapping and deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaar. And announce with chutzpa, as Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Avalon just did, that settlements will be built to memorialize the three slain teens. Yes, they’d have taken this measure regardless, any excuse, but now it’s exceedingly opportune—exploiting the deaths of the young as a sacrosanct right to seize more land.
Of course Barack Obama issued a statement:
As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth.
Interesting. Seems Obama’s forgotten Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the teenager and US citizen on his Kill List, incinerated in a CIA-led drone strike. Obama can’t imagine the indescribable pain that this young man’s parent (singular) feels. That’s singular because the boy’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki also was on Obama’s Kill List and droned two weeks before the death of his son. The attack in Yemen on Oct 14, 2011 that killed the young al-Awalaki also killed his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians as they sat in a restaurant. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was 16, the same age as two of the Israelis, but the murder of al-Awlaki was, well, sensible, to Obama.
Earlier today, Tuesday, I was in the lobby of my building where a TV is tuned daily to CNN. I stopped to view the faces of the three Israeli teenagers.
In May, two Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed in separate incidents by Israeli troops. Later, film from a surveillance camera was examined, providing evidence that neither teen posed a threat. Did world leaders speak to this horror? Call for justice? Of course not. Never do we see the faces of Palestinian children kidnapped and killed by the IDF—at least not on mainstream news networks. Nor do we see the wretchedness, the inhumanity, of Gaza.
Identical to American exceptionalism’s sadism, Israel’s violent acts are legitimized by righteousness and a response to the aggressor’s (?) viciousness.
The message is hypocritically clear: Some lives are more valuable than others. We hear the cries of the Jewish parents, the family members, their friends, and we feel their suffering. But let us understand that mothers and fathers, whether they’re Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, Yemini, in the lands ravaged by US greed, anywhere, love their children as much as we love ours. Let us love not only the children of those we call our allies and our own but all children. Let us value all life.
Let us value all life was supposed to be the closing sentence in this piece. I should start over, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just add more paragraphs.
The death of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian, has been reported by US mainstream news venues. On Wednesday morning, the teenager was kidnapped, his burned body found a couple of hours later—apparently a reprisal killing. His cousin has demanded that the Israeli police and Israeli government do what they did in Hebron: “Demolish and blow the settler houses who have done this crime.”
Netanyahu, fearful of individual retaliations, this time has called for an investigation, issuing a statement that Israel is a country of laws and “Everyone is ordered to act according to the law”—despite the lawlessness unleashed after the kidnapping of the Israeli teens and further lawlessness after their bodies were discovered. Despite no inquiry to determine who killed them but instead a rampage of terror against the Palestinians.
Reading a New York Times article, I gasped that a Facebook group was created to promote revenge for the deaths of the Israeli teens. A photo was posted of two girls, holding a sign: “Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values!”
This is eye for an eye. And everyone will be blind.
Citing the “collapse” of Iraq amid the ISIS insurgency and sectarian violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the de-facto independence of Iraqi Kurds. Netanyahu has also called to support the “Kurdish aspiration for independence.”
The hawkish Israeli leader said on Sunday that Kurds are “fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence,” Reuters reported.
Speaking to Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank, Netanyahu described the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general as a “collapse,” due to strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Amid the recent insurgency of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) militants, Kurds have seized the opportunity to bring a long-sought independent state of Kurdistan closer to reality. Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces have been guarding their provincial borders from ISIS, but also seized the contested Iraqi city of Kirkuk, proclaiming it part of their territory.
Now, in an apparent clash against the international community’s support of a united Iraq, the Israeli leader has called to back the de-facto independence of Kurds.
“We should… support the Kurdish aspiration for independence,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
HEBRON – The father of one of the suspects named by Israel as being behind the disappearance of three Israeli youths has denied that his son was involved in the suspected kidnapping.
On Thursday, Israel named Marwan al-Qawasmeh, 29, and Amer Abu Eisha, 33, as the two main suspects behind the kidnapping of three Israeli youths on June 12.
Israel’s Shin Bet said they had been jailed in the past for taking part in “terrorist activity on behalf of Hamas.”
Speaking to Ma’an, Abu Eisha’s father denied the allegations and said the family is worried that he has been detained and is being tortured by Israeli security forces.
“The occupation kidnapped my son Amer and I’m afraid they will kill him and say that they killed the terrorist and saved the settlers,” Omar Abu Eisha said.
“I have not yet grasped that Amer and Marwan could kidnap three settlers from the most dangerous security square in Etzion. These are Israeli fabrications, whose goal could be is to strike Hamas in the West Bank and strike the national reconciliation,” he added.
Omar Abu Eisha said that he was with his son Amer at a social event the night the three Israelis went missing, but said that later on in the night he could not find his son and he has been missing ever since.
“He told his wife that he might be away for two days for work in al-Eizariya, but he has not called and I am certain that Israel has kidnapped and hid him,” he said.
Omar Abu Eisha told Ma’an that his son was “working hard and saving money” to build a new house.
The family of Marwan al-Qawasmeh refused to be interviewed or comment on the Israeli accusations.
Eisha was first arrested in Nov. 2005 and was held without trial or charge by Israeli forces until June 2006. He was re-arrested in April 2007 for a short period of time.
Eisha’s brother was shot dead by Israeli forces in Nov. 2005 while ostensibly trying to “throw an explosive” at them, and his father had been arrested by Israel multiple times.
After the Israeli teens disappeared while hitchhiking in the West Bank, the army launched a vast hunt for them focusing on the Hebron area.
Israeli forces initially accused Hamas of the kidnapping, which it vigorously denied, and authorities vowed to “crush” the Palestinian political and militant group.
More than 120 Palestinians have been injured in the military operation, which Israel dubbed “Brother’s Keeper,” and more than 1,350 homes and offices, including numerous universities, have been raided.
The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said on Thursday that 566 Palestinians have been detained in the campaign, including 12 members of parliament.
For as long as we can remember, Netanyahu has insisted that “time is running out” on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, despite the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
In July 2013, he declared that Iran is “getting closer and closer to the bomb.” A few months before that, in a speech to the AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby in Washington, he said Iran “is running out the clock” and “has used negotiations, including the most recent ones, to buy time to press ahead with its nuclear program.”
The year before that, in an interview with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren, Netanyahu addressed his decade-and-a-half obsession, stating that a nuclear-armed Iran “was a lot further away 15 years ago when I started talking about it. It was a lot further away 10 years ago. It was a lot further away five years. It was a lot further away five months ago. They are getting there, and they are getting very, very close.”
In a nauseating speech before a Joint Session of Congress on May 24, 2011, Netanyahu said, “When I last stood here, I spoke of the consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out, the hinge of history may soon turn, for the greatest danger of all could soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.”
His memory was correct. He did deliver a harrowing warning about Iran to a Joint Session of Congress in 1996. And his rhetoric was nearly identical. Here’s part of it (followed by a transcript):
Netanyahu: The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran, that has wed a cruel despotism to a fanatic militancy. If this regime, or its despotic neighbor Iraq, were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind.
I believe the international community must reinvigorate its efforts to isolate these regimes, and prevent them from acquiring atomic power. The United States and Israel have been at the forefront of this effort, but we can and must do much more. Europe and the countries of Asia must be made to understand that it is folly, nothing short of folly, to pursue short-time material gain while creating a long-term existential danger for all of us.
Only the United States can lead this vital international effort to stop the nuclearization of terrorist states. But the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.
Sound familiar? Yes, naturally. The script has remained the same for the past two decades. So identical are the talking points, in fact, that while Netanyahu said “now, time is running out” in 2011, here’s what he said back in 1996, during his speech to Congress.
Sigh. Despite Netanyahu’s constant visibility and years of repetition on this issue, he should not be credited with introducing it. A year before his 1996 speech to Congress, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said much the same thing.