Chris Hedges writes that pretty much everything that emanates from Washington and Tel Aviv and the mainstream media about the situation in Gaza is a lie, with only a few reports and analyses presenting anything remotely close to the truth.
Nearly all the words and phrases used by the Democrats, Republicans and the talking heads on the media to describe the unrest inside Israel and the heaviest Israeli assault against the Palestinians since the 2014 attacks on Gaza, which lasted 51 days and killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, are a lie. Israel, by employing its military machine against an occupied population that does not have mechanized units, an air force, navy, missiles, heavy artillery and command-and-control, not to mention a U.S. commitment to provide a $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over the next decade, is not exercising “the right to defend itself.” It is carrying out mass murder. It is a war crime.
Israel has made clear it is ready to destroy and kill as wantonly now as it was in 2014. Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz, who was the chief of staff during the murderous assault on Gaza in 2014, has vowed that if Hamas “does not stop the violence, the strike of 2021 will be harder and more painful than that of 2014.” The current attacks have already targeted several residential high-rises including buildings that housed more than a dozen local and international press agencies, government buildings, roads, public facilities, agricultural lands, two schools and a mosque.
I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, four of them as The New York Times Middle East bureau chief. I am an Arabic speaker. I lived for weeks at a time in Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, where more than 2 million Palestinians exist on the edge of starvation, struggle to find clean water and endure constant Israeli terror. I have been in Gaza when it was pounded with Israeli artillery and air strikes. I have watched mothers and fathers, wailing in grief, cradling the bloodied bodies of their sons and daughters. I know the crimes of the occupation — the food shortages caused by the Israeli blockade, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the near-constant electrical outages due to the Israeli targeting of power plants, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. I have witnessed the carnage.
I also have listened from Gaza to the lies emanating from Jerusalem and Washington. Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill thousands of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war: It is state-sponsored terror. And while I oppose the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians into Israel, as I oppose suicide bombings, seeing them also as war crimes, I am acutely aware of a huge disparity between the industrial violence carried out by Israel against innocent Palestinians and the minimal acts of violence capable of being waged by groups such as Hamas.
Israel is in breach of more than 30 UN Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which states that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
This is the truth. Any other starting point for the discussion of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians is a lie.
Joe Biden has always been, and still is, a contemptible apologist for Israeli war crimes. He has issued a statement not only supporting Israel’s right to defend itself (the usual excuse put forward to justify Israel’s war crimes) , he has also put the brakes on any action by the UN.
The US alone blocked a council statement on the worsening situation in the region at closed-door meetings in New York last Monday and Wednesday, and it was alone again when it opposed holding an open session on Friday, as proposed by Norway, Tunisia and China.
Preventing a meeting was an unusual step which in more normal circumstances would be put to a procedural vote – one that the US would almost certainly have lost. Virtual sessions during the Covid pandemic, however, have to be agreed by consensus.
According to diplomats at the UN, the US mission, led by ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, had been in favour of a security council statement but had been overruled by Washington. However, the prospect of a demonstration of US isolation at the general assembly, on a scale reminiscent of the Trump era, helped bring the White House and state department around to accepting an open meeting.
“After a period where Linda Thomas-Greenfield has really pushed other council members to make statements on Tigray and on Myanmar, for the US then to suddenly turn around and say that a statement would not be helpful inevitably creates a sense of dissonance,” Richard Gowan, the UN director of the International Crisis Group, said.
Israel has destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press and Al Jazeera news bureaus, not doubt to suppress first-hand reporting of its war crimes from that area. In this report NBC correspondent Richard Engel recounts how the US deliberately targeted the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad during the US onslaught on that country.
American forces had destroyed the office of the Arab television network al-Jazeera in the early-morning hours, killing a reporter.
I’ve been told that both al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi had given the Pentagon the global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of their bureaus in Baghdad. The Americans, therefore, should have known where they were.
In other attacks, the US killed three reporters in Iraq where, as the report says, “All the journalists were killed and injured in daylight at locations known to the Pentagon as media sites.”
So Israel is doing what its patron, apologist, and enabler the US also does, trying to prevent any media coverage of its crimes.