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Israeli Airstrikes: Collective Punishment and US Hypocrisy


March 16, 2012
John Glaser / Anti-War.com

At least 18 Palestinians have been killed and more than 70 wounded in Israel's latest set of airstrikes in Gaza. The vast majority of these casualties have been civilians. By contrast, three Israeli civilians have been wounded by rocket fire. In response, the US has condemned "Palestinian violence."

http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/03/12/israeli-airstrikes-collective-punishment-and-us-hypocrisy/

Israeli Airstrikes: Collective Punishment and US Hypocrisy
John Glaser / Anti-War.com

(March 12, 2012) -- At least 18 Palestinians have been killed and more than 70 wounded in Israel's latest set of airstrikes in Gaza. The vast majority of these casualties have been civilians. By contrast, three Israeli civilians have been wounded by rocket fire.

In response to this, the US has condemned Palestinian violence. "We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts. And we call on both sides to make every effort to restore calm."

In cases of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, the victims often are dehumanized and disregarded, as is the case here. But the hypocrisy runs pretty deep. Think about how quickly warmongers in Washington jumped to argue we should be arming militants in Syria who were resisting a brutal government crackdown. In Gaza -- the target of constant violence and economic warfare -- the US demands all Palestinians renounce violence completely. As'ad AbuKhalil:

Western governments never expressed sympathy for the Syrian people: as victims of the Assad regime and as victims of Israeli occupation and brutality. Yet, Western governments were quick to call for arming the Syrian people only months after the uprising began.

The Palestinians, however, have never been treated with such permissiveness. No matter how much massive violence is inflicted on them, and no matter how many massacres they suffer, Western governments insist that the Palestinian people (and any other people living under Israeli occupation) have no right to resort to arms to liberate their lands and to "protect their civilians."


It should be noted that Hamas did not take responsibility for the rocket fire that supposedly prompted the Israeli airstrikes. Indeed, they have been developing an explicitly non-violent approach of late. [See story below.]That means the extremely disproportionate Palestinian casualties are an even more blatant case of collective punishment by Israel.



Is Hamas Going Non-Violent?
John Glaser / AntiWar.com

(December 21, 2011) -- The entire UN Security Council, representing 14 countries, voted to condemn Israeli settlement expansion as criminal only to have the resolution vetoed by the US. Those 14 members united yesterday to criticize the US position [1] as one that prolongs the stagnated peace process and extends the subjugation of the Palestinian people. The press release at the UN described the status quo [2] of the last month:

The past month witnessed a series of developments that are cause for "continued serious concern," he said, noting the announcement of several new settlement constructions, the demolition of 57 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, an increase in settler violence, and over 300 Israeli military operations in the West Bank.

Gaza and southern Israel again witnessed "a dangerous deterioration" in the security situation, he added. During the reporting period, 45 projectiles were fired from Gaza into Israel, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted nine incursions and 13 air strikes.


The condensed summation illustrates the obvious asymmetry of the conflict that has always been apparent. But according to some recent reports, it may become even more so. Bilal Y. Saab at the National Interest [3]:

Jane's, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on "the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel." Jane's, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not "tactical" but "strategic."

Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas's strategy was "gradual and nuanced," with one senior officer telling Jane's that Hamas "intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis." The interviewees' names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.


The article goes on to explain that "the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising," and that Egypt, Qatar and Turkey played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with Fatah and replace armed resistance with nonviolent resistance. "Hamas leader Khaled Meshal," Saab writes, "in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted ‘in writing with a signature' the need to embrace peaceful activism."

Hamas has not yet gone public with this new approach, but if it does (and that does remain an ‘if') Saab says it would be "a major boost for the Palestinian cause." I'm inclined to agree. If there were an explicitly nonviolent united Palestinian front it would put increased pressure on Israel's American enablers to stop supporting the ruthless subjugation of Palestinians. Then again, the ability of the US-Israeli establishment to inflate threats and indoctrinate people away from peace [4] has discredited such optimism before.

Footnotes
[1] united yesterday to criticize the US position: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/12/20/us-blocks-un-from-condemning-israeli-settlement-expansion/

[2] press release at the UN described the status quo: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40798&Cr=palestin&Cr1=

[3] Bilal Y. Saab at the National Interest: http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/new-hamas-the-making-6272

[4] inflate threats and indoctrinate people away from peace: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-officials-security-council-criticism-on-west-bank-violence-disgusting-1.402817

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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