Israel’s US-backed genocide in Gaza, 200 days on

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A wounded Palestinian boy receives treatment at a clinic set up by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) treating severe injuries and burns sustained in Israeli bombardment, at the Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital. Pic by Mohammed Abed/AFP)

What horrible times are we living in? “Never again” was the resolve that led to the formation of a rules-based world order in the aftermath of World War II, in which some 80 million people—3 percent of the then-world population—perished. But events that followed showed humans were incapable of living in peace. People continued to die in wars across the world.
But none of the myriad wars and conflicts could be as brutal as the war Israel’s hardline prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been waging against the hapless people of the Gaza Strip for the past 200-plus days. What is happening in Gaza is not a war; it is genocide, period.

Although the genocide has been going on for 200 days in the full view of the world leaders, what is appalling is some Western leaders’ continuous support for Israel. The United States Congress this week approved billions of dollars for Israel despite the Zionist state’s genocide in Gaza, horrendous war crimes, and human rights violations in occupied Palestinian territories.

The US aid package lends credence to claims that the disagreements the Joe Biden administration is said to be having with the Netanyahu government over the massive civilian casualties in Gaza are merely a façade to cover up US complicity in the Gaza genocide. 
Moreover, the military aid the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other Western nations send to Israel despite the brutal massacre of 15,000 Palestinian children and 20,000 men and women, including doctors, nurses, aid workers, journalists, and elderly people, exposes the duplicity of their human rights campaigns at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other forums.

As Israel’s Gaza genocide entered its 200th day this week, the United States State Department on Monday released its annual human rights report, which often acts as a fig leaf to hide its human rights shame.

When Washington points its index finger at others, it fails to see that three of its own fingers are pointing back at it. US diplomats were quick to take to social media to announce the release of the State Department report, only to be reminded by critics that the physician should heal himself first. 
The US State Department report was only cautiously critical of Israel. Given the mammoth scale of Israel’s human rights violations, it was impossible for the report’s compilers not to make a mention of at least some of them.

So, they included in the report arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests or detentions, restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence against journalists, harassment of human rights organisations, and violence targeting minority groups. What has gone into the report is just a spec; the big beam, it appears, has been calculatingly left out in deference to the special relations the US has with Israel. 
Yet Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told journalists for record’s sake: “As we’re looking at human rights and the condition of human rights around the world, we apply the same standard to everyone. That doesn’t change whether the country in question is an adversary or competitor, a friend or an ally.”

But he stopped short of announcing that Israel’s human rights record warrants an aid suspension under the United States Leahy Laws, which are applied to other nations whose human rights record may not be as horrendous as that of Israel. To hell with Leahy Laws, two days after the report, the US Congress passed a US$ 95 billion aid package to corruption-ridden Ukraine, genocide-committing Israel, and China-resisting Taiwan. Israel will receive US$ 17 billion in military aid and a portion of the US$ 9 billion component that is meant for civilians suffering in conflict zones around the world, including Palestinians in Gaza.

Such appalling policy decisions are backfiring on the Biden administration. The ground reality is different today. The era of pro-Israeli mainstream media corrupting and shaping the minds of the American people is fast vanishing with the advent of social media. Perhaps the Biden administration’s move to ban TikTok stems from fears that the Chinese-owned social media platform helps the youth see the stories the mainstream media would not dare to report.

Some US politicians see a link between TikTok and the ongoing US university student demonstrations in support of the Palestinian cause. In a speech to back the ban on TikTok, Senator Pete Ricketts lamented that nearly a third of US youth got their news from TikTok. He said pro-Palestinian and Hamas videos on TikTok have more reach than the top ten US news websites combined. He accused the Chinese Communist Party of deliberately using TikTok to mislead US youth.

While TikTok is vowing to challenge the ban in US courts and American university students are defying the disproportionate police response to their pro-peace, pro-justice, and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, Israel is preparing for a ground assault on Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians are crammed into. The planned attack on Rafah only highlights the Netanyahu government’s failure to achieve its objectives in Gaza, even though the war has now gone on for more than 200 days.

At the beginning of his genocidal campaign in Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack, in which 1,100 Israelis died and about 250 were taken hostage, Netanyahu spelled out three main objectives. They were a total victory over Hamas, rescuing the hostages and preventing a further such attack from ever taking place. 
After more than 200 days, Hamas is very much a fighting force in Gaza, even though, in its hunt for Hamas, Israel has flattened the Gaza Strip, demolished hospitals, and killed or wounded more than 100,000 people. Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups have killed more than 200 Israeli soldiers, wounded thousands, and destroyed hundreds of Israeli military vehicles, including tanks.

Israel has been able to rescue only three hostages. A few hostages were killed by Israeli troops. About 105 hostages were freed not due to Israeli military pressure but after talks with Hamas during the early weeks of the war. Hamas says more than 70 hostages have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. If true, that is terrible news for Netanyahu. Family members of the hostages are blaming Netanyahu for not doing enough to get the hostages freed. If the Netanyahu government had extended the six-week ceasefire and released more Palestinian prisoners in keeping with Hamas’ demands at the talks, these hostages would not have been killed.

Netanyahu’s third objective also remains unfulfilled. Instead of making Israel more secure, Netanyahu has made Israel vulnerable to more attacks—from Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and on April 14, Iran. 
The Rafah attack will be Netanyahu’s final straw. The US warning to Israel against the Rafah ground attack appears to be more perfunctory than a genuine commitment to save Palestinian lives. After all, the US has passed a multi-billion dollar military aid package to Israel, even though it knows well that Israel pays no heed to US warnings.

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Disclaimer: Israel’s US-backed genocide in Gaza, 200 days on - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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