, February 29, 2024

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Stop the Carnage in Gaza Now

  •   4 min reads
Stop the Carnage in Gaza Now
Catholic Church England and Wales via Flickr
By Jing Montealegre

Two days ago the United States (along with Israel and eight others) voted against a UN Assembly resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza. An overwhelming number of countries, 153 including the Philippines, approved the resolution. Earlier, the U.S., using its veto power, had blocked a more binding UN Security Council resolution calling for the same humanitarian ceasefire. The U.S. veto drew international condemnation.

Informed sources believe that the U. S., at the very least, is complicit in the war crimes being perpetrated by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Palestine, and also in the evolving genocide in Gaza.

The U. S. stand on the current war is duplicitous, if not sick: providing humanitarian assistance to the bomb-out Gaza population while supplying the bombs and ordnance for Israel to carry out the bombings.

Even now as I write President Biden has approved an emergency shipment of 14,000 tank shells and other munitions to Israel, bypassing the U.S. Congress, and is hard at work getting more Congressional dollars for military aid to the country.

But why is Biden, the U. S Congress, and the political elite so invested in Israel? There are many reasons, including the powerful Jewish lobby and the lure of campaign funds, but over and above those is the role that Israel plays as an expedient counter force against every possible Arab perfidy in the region, particularly by Iran.

Leaked Pentagon papers have revealed that America has shipped F-16s fighter bombers, bunker buster bombs, 155 mm shells, precision guided missiles, new army vehicles, Iron Dome interceptors and a liberal supply of military munitions to Israel over the years, to serve America’s geopolitical interest in the region. And Israel has served those interests pretty well.

Except now - when the U. S.’s and Israel’s interests appear to have diverged. And the community of nations slowly wakes up to the unprecedented civilian casualties caused by Israel’s disproportionate use of force. The U.S. Vice President and Secretary of Defense have already criticized Israel for its utter disregard of humanitarian laws of war. In spite of internal and external pressures and the growing isolation of the U.S., Biden has resisted repeated calls for a ceasefire.

And so the war continues on Israel’s terms.

Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The U. S. power and influence to get Israel to do its bidding is obviously waning. Biden has proclaimed to the whole world that America will back Israel all the way, even as the Netanyahu government has not taken “the steps to minimize civilian casualties” suggested by him. It’s easy to imagine Netanyahu giving Antony Blinken’s shuttle diplomacy and Biden’s advice the cold shoulder, or maybe, even the dirty finger.   

The dictum that “Israel has the right to defend itself” is almost laughable (and tragic) when you see the mounting civilian casualties of Israel’s war on Gaza. Today more than 18,000 Palestinians, more than 6,000 women and 8,000 babies and children have been killed in Israel’s relentless bombing of civilian infrastructure - hospitals, schools, U.N. civilian refugee camps included. Over 50,000 have been injured; thousands more remain under the rubble.

Observers see it as collective punishment for the Hamas crime of October 7. Heinous and condemnable as it were, the Hamas attack didn’t just happen on a whim, and has been triggered by decades of Israel oppression since its creation as a state in 1948, when thousands of Palestinians were dispossessed and made refugees in their own land.

Israel occupied the Gaza strip and the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israel war, and imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007. Nothing goes in and out of Gaza without Israel’s approval. People. Food, electricity, fuel, imports, exports, everything.

With the occupation, encroaching illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank swelled. Impeding Palestinian movement and freedom, Israeli settlers backed by the police and army routinely subjected Palestinians to punitive cruelties such as beatings, land grabbing, and so-called “administrative detentions,” filling Israel jails with thousands of tormented men, women and children. In the land of Palestine, Israel is lord and master.

(Think Japanese occupation of the Philippines – ask the old folks who’d lived through it – that’s how life is under Israeli occupation.)

U.S.A Today reports that Israel has released 240 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 110 hostages during the humanitarian pauses brokered by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar. In a cunning subterfuge, however, Israel army and police arrest more than 4,000 Palestinians in the West Bank after October 7.

Of the Israel-Hamas war, a Palestinian political analyst said this on Aljazeera TV: “Civilians killed in Israel’s war are not collateral damage. They are targeted kills. And the targeting of babies and children particularly is intended to deny Palestine a future as a nation state. It’s ethnic cleansing and the Hamas is the collateral damage.” We should hope this isn’t true.

Only an idiot believes that peace and Israel’s security can be attained if Hamas is eliminated. But for as long as the brutal occupation continues, the terror and violence will continue. To resist the occupation, the emergence of new groups (call them terrorists or freedom fighters) is almost certain to happen: “For every civilian, father, wife or child killed by an Israeli bomb, ten Palestinian fighters are born.”

End the occupation. End the carnage. Ceasefire, now.

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