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Day 17

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A Spreading Inferno

The American Role in Israel’s Gaza Rampage

by SHAMUS COOKE

As Obama tours Southeast Asia to strengthen his alliances against China, Gazans are being killed and maimed by the hundreds, with the possibility of an incredibly bloody Israeli invasion. The United States still wields tremendous power internationally; its actions and inactions have direct consequences in international conflicts.

With this in mind, consider President Obama’s words on the conflict coupled with his inaction:  “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was that’s causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of [Gazan] missiles…”

This is an incredible lie. It’s also an especially critical lie, since war crimes weigh heavier on those who fired the first shot.

The truth of the matter has been admitted by several mainstream media sources, including The New York Times. Israel purposely started the conflict by a planned assassination of Hamas’ top military leader, Ahmed Jaabari, who was killed while acting as the lead negotiator for Hamas, working on an Egyptian brokered peace deal with Israel.

The Israeli government knew this, and killed him because they wanted to destroy the possible peace; they wanted war. It’s important to remember that Hamas is the democratically elected government of the self-governing Gaza Strip; assassinating Jaabari is similar to a foreign nation using its military to assassinate Hillary Clinton, i.e., it’s an act of war.

When Hamas responded by firing its pathetic rockets, Israel then was given the “justification” in launching its previously planned military strikes, which commit daily war crimes, most notably by targeting non-military institutions like media, religious and educational institutions and other public buildings.

Israel uses massive bombs throughout the tightly packed civilian population of Gaza — another war crime.

Obama lies again when he says that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” It is the Gazans who have this right against a U.S. funded massive military machine that is bombing Gaza by land, sea, and air. Gaza has no army, navy, and its 1.5 million people essentially live in a giant walled off, caged slum.

Listing all of Israel’s war crimes in this conflict which are consistent with previous attacks on the Palestinians would take up too much space. Obama is forced to publicly approve of many of these crimes because he is guilty of the same offenses, as Glenn Greenwald points out. The war crime of “targeted assassinations” that caused this conflict is daily practiced by Obama in his drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Not only is Obama supporting Israeli war crimes publicly, he is working at the U.N. to actively prevent a U.N. Security Council peace deal, after Russia publicly accused the U.S. of filibustering U.N. action over the conflict. The U.S. delegates would only approve of a resolution that equally blamed Israel and Gaza for the conflict. Reuters explains:  “The Security Council is generally deadlocked on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which U.N. diplomats say is due to the United States’ determination to protect its close ally Israel. The council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Israeli strikes on Gaza but took no action.”

Israel’s move to provoke a war– and Obama’s reluctance to stop it — may seem insane, but the U.S.-Israeli alliance is planning for still bigger wars against Syria and Iran and possibly beyond as other nations get drawn into a regional war.

Israel’s attack was well timed. It felt its position was being eroded by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, which are now stronger advocates of the Palestinians than the previous regimes were. Meanwhile, Israel has been threatening to attack Iran for over a year and may have felt the window closing on that operation.

Now, the window is opened wider. Anything is possible. A region of the world that was already on fire is now being doused in kerosene. Amidst the flames, Israel and the U.S. are striving to re-build the region in their image, with more territory and oil and fewer enemies. The war against the Palestinians is the first act in a regional war. The U.S. and Israel are planning to spread the inferno across the Middle East and beyond.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com