Gaza and the Israeli War

The world awoke on October 7 to the news that so-called ‘militants’ in the Gaza Strip had entered Israel, killed 40 people and injured hundreds of others. (The figures now stand at more than 900 Israelis killed and 2806 wounded.) In retaliation, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is at war with Gaza. The death toll on both sides has skyrocketed since the news initially broke.

It must be remembered that Palestinians in Gaza, along with those in the West Bank and Jerusalem, have suffered for decades at the hands of the brutal, internationally-illegal and internationally-condemned Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel has the most advanced weaponry on the planet, much of it provided by the United States. Israel also receives billions of dollars in aid annually from the U.S., compared to the trivial amount of aid it provides to Palestine.

Palestine, on the other hand, with no army, navy or air force, must rely on what it can cobble together in the way of weapons, to resist the occupation. Norman Finklestein, son of Holocaust survivors and an ardent advocate of Palestinian rights, refers to Hamas ‘rockets’ as ‘enhanced fireworks’. And under international law, an occupied people can resist the occupation in any way possible, including armed struggle. In this situation, as is nearly always the case in the Palestine-Israel ‘conflict’, it is Israel, not Palestine, that is in violation of international law.

A ‘conflict’ cannot be considered a war when it is between a rich nation with one of the most powerful militaries on the planet, and a poor, occupied country lacking any but the most rudimentary military facilities. The Palestinians in Gaza, ruled by the democratically-elected government of Hamas, are resisting the brutal, demoralizing occupation, and Israel, ruled by the most extreme right-wing government in its history of brutal right-wing governments, is continuing its policy of slow but ongoing genocide.

President Joe Biden and other Western leaders proclaim, once again, that Israel has a right to defend itself. Yet there is never any discussion about Palestine’s right to defend itself from the ongoing, deadly oppression it suffers daily at the hands of Israel. The aggressor cannot be seen as defending itself from its victim. That Israel is an apartheid regime can no longer be doubted, despite the denials of Biden and other government leaders. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem and other international human-rights organizations have documented this fact in painful detail.

United States government officials frequently proclaim their desire for peace in the Middle East. Yet the U.S. continues to not only finance Israeli brutality, but also protect it from consequences on the world stage by exercising U.S. veto power nearly every time the United Nations Security Council seeks to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and crimes against humanity.

Current efforts by the U.S. to broker an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel will not lead to peace in the Middle East. Millions of Arabs throughout the Middle East are displeased by their governments’ establishing diplomatic relations with Israel during the Trump administration. Monarchies and dictatorships creating alliances may benefit their government leaders, but do nothing for the people who have limited, if any, say in the governments that rule them. Biden and other government leaders, in the U.S. and around the world, ignore the simmering and growing hostility of millions of people who oppose Israel’s racist policies and the governments that support them.

True peace in the Middle East is not difficult to achieve. The steps to doing so are clear: the U.S. must tie any aid to Israel to that country’s adherence to international law. That includes removing all illegal settlers; the concept that Israel is creating ‘facts on the ground’ is worthless. Stolen property does not eventually become owned by the thief; when the theft is discovered, the property must be returned. According to international law, the settlements are illegal.

Additionally, when the U.N. Security Council proposes resolutions that condemn Israeli violations of international law, the U.S. must vote in support of those resolutions. Israel, by its own behaviors, increases its reputation as an international outlaw, and the U.S. does nothing to enhance its own reputation by supporting it.

The people throughout Palestine, and especially in Gaza today, experience horrific living conditions due to the Israeli occupation. The U.N. predicted in 2012 that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, yet over 2,000,000 people still live there, despite the sporadic availability of electricity, limited drinking water, unemployment at record highs and poverty rampant.

Major news outlets are treating this as a ‘terrorist’ act, Israel’s ‘9-11’, and not the response of a people who have suffered greatly under the brutal hand of an occupying nation for decades. They decry Palestinian violence, as they ignore that of Israel. Few, if any, journalists question Israeli bombing of hospitals and schools, or even the bombing of United Nations refugee shelters. They don’t question the brutality of killing rock-throwing teenagers, or the nightly raids of homes in the West Bank, where the houses are ransacked by IDF soldiers, and all the males over the age of 11 taken into custody. No, perhaps because those victims are always Arab and usually Muslim, crimes against them don’t matter.

The latest onslaught by Israel will only worsen these horrific conditions. The world community must demand the liberation of the Palestinians, and Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars.