In unprecedented slaughter of Gaza civilians, US claims Israel is the “victim”
As the death toll in Gaza tops 20,000, Israeli-US lies about Al-Shifa hospital are newly exposed.
In a news conference this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken lashed out at global criticism of US support for Israel’s mass murder campaign in Gaza.
“I hear virtually no one saying, demanding of Hamas that it stop hiding behind civilians, that it lay down its arms, that it surrender. This is over tomorrow if Hamas does that,” Blinken complained. “How can it be that there are no demands made of the aggressor, and only demands made of the victim?”
Blinken’s statement is an outright endorsement of state terrorism. Its underlying logic affirms that Israel is free to massacre Palestinian civilians until the armed resistance in their midst offers up a “surrender.”
The chief US diplomat’s indigitation at the supposed absence of any “demands” on Hamas is also based on a false premise. As Blinken is well aware, the multiple UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that his government has vetoed demanded that Hamas grant the unconditional release of all hostages. But because these resolutions also demanded that Israel end its attack on Gaza and allow the unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid, the US has blocked them.
Committed to defending Israeli violence at all costs, Blinken is accordingly willing to cast Hamas as the “aggressor” and Israel – an occupying power that has now reportedly murdered well over 20,000 people in Gaza – as the “victim.”
Even if we were to pretend that history began on Oct. 7th, and forget that the Hamas militants who attacked Israel on that day were caged inside the world’s largest concentration camp under the world’s longest-running military occupation, Blinken’s statement would be just as mendacious. Hamas’ atrocities came in a one-day guerilla operation against Israel. That does not give Israel the right to wage a nearly-three month military campaign that is causing historic levels of carnage and destruction.
With Israel routinely blocking life-saving aid, a new United Nations report finds that more than 500,000 people in Gaza – one-quarter of the entire population – are starving. “It doesn’t get any worse,” says Arif Husain, chief economist for the World Food Program. “I have never seen something at the scale that is happening in Gaza. And at this speed.”
Israel has drastically reduced aid by insisting that it inspect every shipment going into Gaza, even goods that arrive through Egypt. This means that before entering Gaza at Egypt’s Rafah crossing, aid trucks must first drive for an inspection in the Israeli border town of Kerem Shalom before returning to Rafah. While claiming to be working strenuously on the aid deliveries, the Biden administration has played its traditional role of enforcing Israel’s dictate. As one US official told the New York Times of the Biden administration’s latest stonewalling of a UNSC resolution, “Washington would not approve a measure that removed Israel from the inspection process.”
When it comes to military tactics, Israel’s wanton recklessness was newly underscored when its forces killed three unarmed Israeli hostages after mistaking them for being Palestinian civilians. Had they been the latter, as Israeli troops believed when they shot them, the murders would have been routine and likely unnoticed.
Meanwhile, even President Biden has been forced to admit that Israel is carrying out an “indiscriminate bombing” of the besieged enclave. “By some measures, destruction in Gaza has outpaced Allied bombings of Germany during World War II,” the Associated Press reports. Whereas the Allies destroyed about 10% of buildings across Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1945, in Gaza that figure stands at 33%.
“Gaza is one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history,” US military historian Robert Pape observes. “It now sits comfortably in the top quartile of the most devastating bombing campaigns ever.” The campaign has relied on the steady provision of US weapons. According to a recent US intelligence assessment, almost half of the munitions that Israel has dropped on Gaza have been unguided or “dumb” bombs, which are known for their inaccuracy and wholesale destruction.
In the war’s first weeks, “Israel routinely used one of its biggest and most destructive bombs in areas it designated safe for civilians,” a New York Times analysis concludes. Although Washington has given free rein to use its 2,000-pound bombs, they “are almost never dropped by U.S. forces in densely populated areas anymore.” Their lethality extends to 1,000 feet from impact, a large-scale death sentence for what CNN notes is a Gaza population “packed together much more tightly than almost anywhere else on earth.”
Under Israel’s US-backed indiscriminate bombardment, Gaza’s official death toll has passed 20,000, an unusual if not unprecedented figure for a 21st century war that is less than three-months old. Given that only one side has a military and air power, it was also entirely predictable. The 20,000 figure is also assuredly an undercount. “We don’t know how many are buried under the rubble of their homes,” notes the World Health Organization’s Director General. Health data expert Benjamin Q. Huynh adds that there is “no evidence” that Gaza’s health ministry has inflated the Palestinian death toll. Beyond those buried under the rubble, an additional reason why the “true death toll is probably higher than what’s being reported,” he observes, is a “diminished capacity from the hospital system.”
The Israeli attacks on Gaza’s hospital system have targeted more than two dozen health facilities in Gaza, another milestone in the conduct of modern warfare.
When it comes to last month’s Israeli assault on Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, a new report in the Washington Post concludes what was obvious from the start: Israeli-US claims of a Hamas “command and control” center there were yet another pro-war fabrication.
After seizing the hospital, Israel claimed that five buildings were used by Hamas, and sat above tunnels that were used to direct the group’s militant activity. But according to the Post, rooms that were connected to the tunnel network underneath the hospital “showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas.” Additionally, neither al-Shifa’s hospital wards or the five hospital buildings were accessible to the tunnels. Accordingly, the Post concludes, “the evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the hospital as a command and control center.”
The Biden administration was equally complicit in Israel’s al-Shifa deception, aided as usual by reliable media stenographers. Before Israel attacked al-Shifa on Nov. 15th, White House spokesperson John Kirby assured reporters that he could “confirm” that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were using al-Shifa’s tunnels “to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages.” One day after Israel launched the assault, President Biden doubled down. “Here’s the situation: You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a hospital,” Biden said on Nov. 16th, “And that’s a fact. That’s what’s happened.”
Biden’s grasp of this “fact” is as reliable as his false claim to have seen photographs of beheaded babies, which he nonetheless continues to repeat despite Israeli and US admissions that no such photographs exist.
Anonymous US officials also informed the New York Times that “they are confident that Hamas has used tunnel networks under hospitals, in particular Al Shifa, for command and control areas as well as for weapons storage.” The Times additionally cited “senior Israeli intelligence officials,” who “allowed the Times to review photographs that purported to show secret entrances to the compound from inside the hospital.” In other words, these Israeli officials “allowed” the Times to launder their lies.
As Israeli forces attacked al-Shifa, anonymous US intelligence officials informed the Wall Street Journal that they had “independently” obtained “intercepted communications of fighters inside the compound.” Predictably, the Journal’s sources “declined to provide more details about the U.S. intelligence on Al-Shifa,” citing the familiar excuse of protecting “sources and methods.” The claim of sourcing “intercepted communications” happens to be a tried and tested method of US war propaganda, deployed to sell the fabrications about Iraq WMDs or claims of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government.
Although the Journal acknowledged that the US “hasn’t been able to determine details of Hamas’s alleged operations at Al-Shifa,” it left room for even more Israeli attacks by claiming that the US “has also picked up intelligence about other hospitals.” When reporters pressed Kirby to provide even a shred of evidence, the White House spokesperson refused. But not to worry: yet another anonymous “knowledgeable source” emerged to inform Reuters that the intelligence “is definitive.”
The Israeli siege of al-Shifa caused the deaths of several dozen patients in intensive care, as well at least four premature babies. In heralding the operation, an Israeli official even dispensed with the pretext about a Hamas command post or rescuing hostages. “The entrance to Shifa is first of all a symbol that there is no place we will not reach,” the official said. “We did not think we would find hostages, but we will definitely locate and dismantle Hamas capabilities.”
For its part, the Biden administration still defends the al-Shifa assault. “This was a very precise and targeted military operation that Israel carried out with a range of efforts to reduce any civilian casualties,” a senior U.S. administration official told the Post.
The operation was indeed targeted. In attacking Gaza’s largest hospital with US assistance, Israel laid the foundation to destroy and disable even more health facilities across the besieged enclave. This unprecedented barbarism can only have one goal: to maximize civilian casualties, and destroy the basic institutions of a functioning society.
The assault on al-Shifa is also perfectly in line with Israeli officials’ open calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing, and the high-level effort undertaken for those goals.
According to the newspaper Israel Hayom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top aide, cabinet member Ron Dermer, has been tasked to “thin” the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip “to a minimum.” A new account in the Washington Post claims that in the days after Oct. 7th, Netanyahu even personally asked President Biden to pressure Egypt into accepting a massive influx of Palestinian refugees. Aides claims that Biden rebuffed Netanyahu, but evidence suggests otherwise. On Oct. 20th, the White House submitted a Congressional budget request that included funding for the “potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries,” given that the “crisis could well result in displacement across border and higher regional humanitarian needs.”
Resistance from Egypt and Jordan has thwarted, for now, Israel’s effort to enlist their help in trying to “thin” out Gaza. Accordingly, the Israeli army is settling for exterminating as many Palestinians as possible, and making the death camp uninhabitable for those who survive.
White House support for Israel’s war on Palestinian civilians goes beyond any act of US barbarism in recent memory. Complicit in mass murder, Biden and his principals are also engaging in unprecedented levels of deceit, from lying about civilian hospitals to pretending that the perpetrator of a genocide is in fact the victim.
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