by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 6, Shawwal, 1435)
The Zionist regime would not be able to carry out its crimes against the hapless people of Gaza with such impunity were it not for direct support of western regimes. They are all complicit in Zionist war crimes.
If the people of Gaza were faced with assault only from the Zionists that would be bad enough; after all, Israel has the fourth largest killing machine in the world. Its US-supplied and financed weapons—F-15 and F-16 planes, missiles, rockets, gunboats and long-range artillery—are pulverizing tiny Gaza with no place for the 1.7 million people to escape to or hide.
But tiny Gaza (10 miles wide and 25 miles long) has been under Israeli siege since June 2007. It has been on “starvation diet”, as one Israeli official put it, in order to teach the people a lesson. There is extreme food shortage. The UN reports that 90 percent of the population is food deficient; 95 percent of Gaza’s water is contaminated because the Israelis have damaged the only filtration plant and refuse to allow import of spare parts. Raw sewage flows in the streets. Even the sea around Gaza is contaminated because there is no place else for Gazans to discharge the sewage.
This is the direct result of Israeli policies. The western world led by Barack Obama and his allies has given the Zionists carte blanch to continue their murderous assault on Gaza. The standard line parroted is: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” What this means is that Israel can continue to kill, maim and do whatever it likes with impunity. In the first week of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza that was launched on July 8, more than 200 people were killed, the overwhelming majority civilians, according to the UN Human Rights Commission. Thousands were injured and unable to receive proper medical care because of lack of many essential medications.
The Zionists have also attacked homes, hospitals, centers for the disabled and whatever else they fancy to bomb and destroy. They have given the vicious military assault the innocuous sounding name, “Protective Edge” as if the besieged and starved Palestinians in Gaza are a threat to the largest killing machine in the region.
This is also the line peddled by western regimes as well as their corporate media outlets and makes up the third front against the Palestinians, especially in Gaza. The Palestinian victims are presented as aggressors while the gun-toting illegal colonial settlers from Europe, Russia and North America are presented as victims. This is something the Zionists have perfected but they would not be so successful without the help of the corporate media. The western world views Zionist Israel with sympathy because what the Zionists are subjecting the indigenous Palestinians to—genocide—is precisely what the European colonialist settlers had done to indigenous populations in North America and Australia. They are cut from the same cloth and carry the same genocidal mentality.
The western media also presents Israel’s barbarous assault as if two equal parties are involved in the conflict. There is not even a hint that the Palestinians are victims trying to defend their land and their lives while the Zionists are alien invaders. Further, that the Palestinians are besieged and armed only with homemade rockets that have caused little or no damage but are lobbed to vent their frustration at being bottled up in an open air prison. The Zionist killing machine is massively armed and uses its lethal wares without compunction.
The absurdity of Israel as victim can be gauged from some casualty statistics for the period from July 8 to 30.
It was these disproportionate casualty rates that forced the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to condemn Israeli airstrikes targeting civilians as “unlawful.” Sarah Leah Wilson, HRW Director for Middle East said on July 15: “Israel’s rhetoric is all about precision attacks, but attacks with no military target and many civilian deaths can hardly be considered precise.”
This and the UN Human Rights Commission’s censure of Israel’s targeting of civilians are the only critical voices in an otherwise uniform support of the Zionist regime’s crimes against defenceless Palestinians in Gaza. Add to that also Professor Richard Falk’s opinion piece in Al Jazeera (July 13, 2014) in which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights roundly condemned the West’s hypocrisy. He wrote:
“…instead of condemning such recourse to massive violence as ‘aggression’ that violates the UN Charter and fundamental international law principles, the reaction of Western diplomats and mainstream media has perversely sided with Israel. From the UN Secretary-General to the president of the United States, the main insistence has been that Hamas must stop all rocket attacks while Israel is requested ever so politely to show ‘maximum restraint’”.
The corporate media take their cue from their political leaders that in turn are beholden to their financial masters who without exception have all parroted the line, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Do the Palestinians also have any such rights, especially to defend themselves or have access to food, water and indeed air? To consider just one example, on July 10, in response to the high number of Palestinian casualties, the CNN made the fantastic claim that the Palestinians love to die! Presumably, Israel is only fulfilling their wish.
This ‘Israel can do no wrong,’ line reached even greater absurdity when Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected the ‘ceasefire’ brokered by Egypt on July 14. On the surface this may sound an unreasonable position for Hamas to take but the manner in which the ceasefire was arranged and announced and what it entails have been deliberately obfuscated. Hamas was not even consulted. The idea was the brainchild of the US and Tony Blair, the Quartet representative for Palestine. They arranged it between the military ruler of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as if Hamas and Islamic Jihad neither exist nor matter.
As Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University pointed out on July 15, “Hamas has insisted that there be a lasting resolution of the basic problem of Israel’s siege of Gaza, promised as part of the 2012 cease-fire, but never implemented in spite of Israel’s recognition that Hamas scrupulously maintained the cease-fire until quite recently. The Egyptian proposal makes lifting of the siege conditional on Israel’s approval, which means never.”
The ceasefire agreement was announced through the media; that is the first time Hamas heard about it. Several commentators have noted that the Egyptians deliberately kept the Palestinians in the dark because they want to see Hamas eliminated. The Egyptian military regime, the zionist regime and the Saudi regime are all on the same page when it comes to the troublesome people of Gaza led by Hamas and supported by Islamic Jihad and PFLP.
Hamas’ rejection of the ceasefire was immediately pounced upon by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and other western officials. They said Hamas, which is an “international terrorist organization”, by rejecting the ceasefire, has made clear that it was not interested in peace and that it bears full responsibility for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Baird was repeating the same nonsensical argument advanced by CNN five days earlier about the Palestinians’ death wish. Baird is an unabashed apologist for the zionist regime as is the Canadian prime minister John Harper.
For the record, the overwhelming majority of countries in the world do not consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, notwithstanding the claim of European colonial powers and their allies that they represent the “international community.” The vast majority of countries including Russia consider Hamas to be a liberation movement struggling for their rights. Hamas had secured an absolute majority in elections in January 2006 and is the legitimate representative of the people of Gaza. Yet when Hamas formed the government in Gaza in June 2007 following collapse of the coalition government with the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Harper regime was the first to cut off all funding to the Palestinians. The conservative regime has also targeted Palestinian and other charitable organizations in Canada because they provided help to the besieged people of Gaza.
We must also consider what triggered the latest Zionist onslaught on Gaza. The Zionists alleged that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli settlers that had disappeared in the Occupied West Bank on June 12. Hamas has denied all involvement but that has not prevented the zionists from perpetrating atrocities against the Palestinians. During the two-week period that the three Israeli settlers went missing, the Zionist occupation forces murdered 10 Palestinians including two boys, age 7 and 15.
Following discovery of the three Israeli settlers’ bodies, the Zionists went on a rampage. A 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohamed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped by Zionist vigilantes, tortured and burnt alive. His charred body was discovered a few hours later on July 9. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Israelis “do not do such things,” the following day, his border police grabbed Abu Khdeir’s cousin, Tariq visiting from the US and kicked and punched him while he lay on the ground.
Initially, the Zionists denied their border police were involved. Then an amateur video emerged showing the policemen smashing Tariq’s face while he lay on the ground. The video went viral on the Internet. In the meantime, the Zionists had launched their assault on the tiny Gaza Strip.
While there will eventually be a ceasefire, Hamas has made clear that it is not interested in simply returning to the untenable status quo of the 2012 ceasefire agreement that Israel systematically violated. Hamas wants guarantees that such violations would cease. The zionist regime has resorted to frequent armed attacks on the Gaza Strip, refused to respect clauses on the rights of fishermen in Gaza’s territorial waters and farmers in land close to the Gaza/Israel boundary and more critically, not lifted the illegal siege of Gaza that has remained in force since June 2007.
Among those arrested by the zionist regime in June, almost all those Palestinians that were released as part of the agreement in exchange for the release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit were re-arrested. Hamas demands their immediate release and a pledge that they would not be re-arrested.
The most crucial point for Hamas is lifting of the illegal siege of the tiny sliver of land so that the 1.7 million Palestinians can begin to resume a life that resembles something close to normalcy.