Israel responsible for latest Gaza flare-up

Israel responsible for latest Gaza flare-up

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl a rock toward Israeli forces during clashes following a demonstration along the border with Israel in Malaka, east of Gaza City. (AFP)

The cacophony of pro-Israeli voices in US Congress want you to believe that everything was going along peacefully between Palestinians and Israelis until Hamas “terrorists” decided to attack last week, firing a barrage of more than 600 rockets at Israeli civilians.

Four Israelis were killed during the latest bout of violence, but most of the rockets aimed at Israel — fired randomly and without guidance systems — landed in the desert. More than 25 Palestinians, including two pregnant women and a baby, were killed. In addition, dozens of buildings, including residential towers, were razed to the ground by Israeli airstrikes.

What the pro-Israel politicians don’t want you to know is that Israel has been killing Palestinian civilians nearly every week for the past 14 months. They can get away with this blinkered view because it is reflected in America’s largely one-sided, biased mainstream news media, which exaggerates Palestinian violence and soft-pedals Israeli violence, creating the false impression that Palestinians are the aggressors and Israelis the peace-seeking victims.

An independent Human Rights Watch report said 2017 was a typical year for Palestinians, with Israel destroying 381 civilian homes and displacing more than 588 people, including families. Also in 2017, the Israeli security forces killed 62, including 14 children, and injured at least 3,494 in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel itself.

It was even worse during 2018, when well-protected snipers shot dead more than 220 Palestinians and injured 6,500 on the Gaza-Israel border. Among the dead were dozens of teenagers, medical professionals and journalists, who were all specifically targeted.

And yet, during all this, the US politicians who are today wailing about “Hamas terrorism” never expressed one concern. Not a word for the murdered children. Not a word for the murdered medical personnel who were trying to save lives. Not a word for the journalists who were killed while covering the protests.

Apparently, defending Israel and demonizing anyone who tries to raise the issue of Israel and Palestine in an objective and fair manner is more important.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, has found her voice as one of the most prominent pro-Israel members of Congress. This week, she attacked Muslim Minnesota congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar after the latter stated on Twitter: “How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.”

Cheney replied with: “1. Hamas controls Gaza. 2. Hamas is firing rockets at civilians in Israel. 3. (Omar) is defending Hamas. Real question is how many times will (Omar) rush to the defense of terrorists?”

Israel rejects peace, has openly enforced racist policies against its Christian and Muslim citizens, and brutalizes Palestinians. 

Ray Hanania

But it wasn’t just Cheney. It was also the equally shrill former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the Republican Party’s leading conservative women. She blasted the international community for “remaining silent” and not piling it on Hamas and the Palestinians, tweeting: “If this was any other country, the international community would raise havoc. No other country would sit back and take this. Why should Israel? #DoubleStandard.”

No, Ms. Haley, the double standard is you. The double standard is Cheney. The double standard is the mainstream news media outlets that are near-silent when Israel murders Palestinian civilians who protest along the Gaza border, but go berserk when Palestinian militants fight back, firing rockets at Israel following months of Israeli assaults and killings.

I’m not defending Hamas. It is an organization built on violence that rejects peace with Israel. Over the years, Hamas has used violence, including suicide bombings, to derail the peace process and undermine Palestinian unity, striving to impose its extremist religious beliefs on the Palestinian government.

But Israel on the other hand, rejects peace with the Palestinians, has openly enforced racist policies against its Christian and Muslim citizens, and brutalizes Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Anyone who honestly looks at the timeline of what has been happening in Israel and Palestine knows that Israel is not only the cause of the recent violence, but also the obstacle to reaching a peace that could prevent more deaths and more destruction. The violence we saw at the weekend is a consequence of the Israeli government’s refusal to seriously pursue peace and recognize the rights of Palestinians to statehood on their lands.

Israel doesn’t want peace. It rejects the two-state solution. It oppresses, brutalizes and kills Palestinians. It is Israel that is responsible for the latest outbreak of violence.

As long as there is no peace with justice, violence will be a permanent fixture, not just for Palestinians but for Israelis too.

  • Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached at his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania
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