US, Australia back Gaza strike; rest of the world doesn’t

A headline from Israel Today, from late last year: ‘US, Australia back Gaza strike; rest of the world doesn’t’. If that doesn’t trigger memories of the Man of Steel shoulder-to-shoulder with George Bush in 2003, here’s another Iraq flashback: they’re lying about aluminum tubes again. Consider the following piece of Israeli war porn:

Israel posted that footage of a mass killing (for what do you suppose the final explosion represents?) to demonstrate its precision targeting. The cylinders on that truck were, you see, missiles.

Except that, in all probability, they weren’t. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem writes:

B’Tselem received the testimony of Ahmad Sanur, the owner of the truck bombed. Sanur claims the truck was carrying oxygen canisters used for welding, not Grad rockets. B’Tselem field worker took photos of oxygen canisters left on the site of the bombing.

According to Sanur’s testimony, he and members of his family were trying to salvage material from a metal workshop he owns, which was next door to a bombed house, in order to prevent looting. He denies any connection to militants, or military activity, and is willing to talk to any journalist, or investigator.

8 people were killed in the bombing, including his son.

Ahmad Sanur might be willing to talk to journalists but that doesn’t mean journalists can talk to him. As the BBC points out:

Israel has bolstered its approach by banning foreign correspondents from Gaza, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court. [snip] The absence of reporters from major organisations has meant, for example, that Mr Samur’s story has not been as widely told as it probably would have been, or his account subject to an on-the-spot examination.

In other words, with independent corroboration impossible, the death of Sanur’s son and seven other men becomes another ‘he-said-she-said’ story. Why, it’s just some dead Arabs, after all – and God knows, we’ve seen enough of them over the last few years.

Still, those who care about such things might note a pattern. In recent days, Israel has attacked a university, a school, a mosque, many civilian police stations, a television station, the Palestinian parliament, the ministry of education, the ministry of housing, and the ministry of foreign affairs. These were not accidents but deliberate strikes, invariably justified by some pro-forma statement about terrorism.

Take, for instance, the recent destruction of the American International School, an institution founded in 2000 to provide ‘progressive education’. The chairman of the school board explained: ‘This is the most distinguished and advanced school in Gaza, if not in Gaza and the West Bank … They are very good, highly educated open-minded students who can really be future leaders.’

Well, not any more. The IDF has destroyed the place. It was claimed that rockets had been fired from the school grounds – and perhaps they were. But there’s no journalists to investigate and the public statements coming from Israel don’t inspire confidence.

After all, no less a personage than Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says that there’s no need for a humanitarian truce because …  there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Livni lies and she knows that she lies. Two days ago, Relief Web reported the following:

Registered fatalities amount to 327 and injuries to over 1,100, however there are estimates of additional unregistered casualties up to 421 people killed and 2,100 injured. People are living in a state of fear and panic.
80% of the population cannot support themselves and are dependant on humanitarian assistance. This figure is increasing.
According to WFP, the population is facing a food crisis. There are food shortages of flour, rice, sugar, dairy products, milk, canned foods and fresh meats.
The imports entering are insufficient to support the population or to service infrastructure maintenance and repair needs.
The health system is overwhelmed, having already been weakened by the 18- month blockade.
The utilities are barely functioning: the only electric power plant has shut down. Some 250,000 people in central and northern Gaza do not have electricity at all due to the damage to fifteen electricity transformers during the air strikes. The water system provides running water once every 5-7 days and the sanitation system cannot treat the sewage and is dumping 40 million litres of raw sewage into the sea daily. Fuel for heating, needed due to the cold weather, and cooking gas, are no longer available in the market.

All that was, of course, prior to the ground invasion. We should expect far more carnage to come because, as Major Avital Liebowitz of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office explains, the army has widened its target list: ‘Anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target’. With Hamas the elected government of Gaza, that’s a licence to kill just about anyone associated with Palestinian civil affairs.

In these, the first days of 2009, a historic injustice is taking place. And, like the United States, the Australian government has given its blessing.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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