November 18, 2012
Al Jazeera

The Latest Gaza Catastrophe

Completely aside from the merits of the grievances on the two sides, one side is militarily omnipotent and the other side crouches helplessly in fear

by Richard Falk

The media double standards in the West on the new and tragic Israeli escalation of violence directed at Gaza were epitomised by an absurdly partisan New York Times front page headline: "Rockets Target Jerusalem; Israel girds for Gaza Invasion" (NYT, Nov 16, 2012). Decoded somewhat, the message is this: Hamas is the aggressor, and Israel when and if it launches a ground attack on Gaza must expect itself to be further attacked by rockets. This is a stunningly Orwellian re-phrasing of reality.

The true situation is, of course, quite the opposite: Namely, that the defenseless population of Gaza can be assumed now to be acutely fearful of an all out imminent Israeli assault, while it is also true, without minimising the reality of a threat, that some rockets fired from Gaza fell harmlessly (although with admittedly menacing implications) on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There is such a gross disproportion in the capacity of the two sides to inflict damage and suffering due to Israeli total military dominance as to make perverse this reversal of concerns to what might befall Israeli society if the attack on Gaza further intensifies.

The reliance by Hamas and the various Gaza militias on indiscriminate, even if wildly inaccurate and generally harmless, rockets is a criminal violation of international humanitarian law, but the low number of casualties caused and the minor damage caused, needs to be assessed in the overall context of massive violence inflicted on the Palestinians. The widespread non-Western perception of the new cycle of violence involving Gaza is that it looks like a repetition of Israeli aggression against Gaza in late 2008, early 2009, that similarly fell between the end of American presidential elections and scheduled Israeli parliamentary elections.

There is the usual discussion over where to locate responsibility for the initial act in this renewed upsurge violence. Is it some shots fired from Gaza across the border and aimed at an armoured Israeli jeep or was it the targeted killing by an Israeli missile of Ahmed Jabari, leader of the military wing of Hamas, a few days later? Or some other act by one side or the other? Or is it the continuous violence against the people of Gaza arising from the blockade that has been imposed since mid-2007?

The assassination of Jabari came a few days after an informal truce that had been negotiated through the good offices of Egypt, and quite ironically agreed to by none other than Jabari acting on behalf of Hamas. Killing him was clearly intended as a major provocation, disrupting a carefully negotiated effort to avoid another tit-for-tat sequence of violence . . .


Richard Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

"Israel Besieges, Attacks Gaza, Breaks Ceasefire," The Wisdom Fund, January 1, 2009

"Scale of Gaza Destruction Emerges," BBC News, January 19, 2009

"Israel Attacks Aid Ship in International Waters," The Wisdom Fund, May 31, 2010

George Bisharat, "Israel and Palestine: A True One-State Solution," Washington Post, September 3, 2010

Refeef Ziadah, 'We teach life, sir', December 11, 2011

[In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the "American superpower" groveling at Netanyahu's feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of the social infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli war crimes and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of "self-defense," the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu's crimes.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Puppet State America,", November 19, 2012]

Ira Chernus, "Obama Weaves Web of Deceit on Gaza War,", November 19, 2012

[The Muslims as terrorist, Islam as a religion of violence and hatred, the Jew as eternal victim, the Holocaust as a unique historical event, the uniqueness of which is echoed in the political manifesto of 'manifest destiny' and 'exceptionalism' of the United States of America, the 'good guys" of World Wars I and II, constitutes the current propaganda pastiche determining the limits of politically correct discourse. Any criticism against Israel is automatically translated into anti-Semitism and criticism of the United States is unpatriotic or even treason.--Lynda Burstein Brayer, "The Absolute Right of Palestinian Resistance,", November 20, 2012]

[THE continuous shelling of the enclave has resulted in 30 civilian deaths and 850 injured as Israeli rockets pounded Hamas--"Death toll in Gaza reaches 109 as Israel continue their attacks on Palestine,", November 20, 2012]

[It is an ongoing assault on the Palestinian people. And especially the people of Gaza, which began a very long time ago and the plan is to effectively get rid of them as an entity.--An Interview With John Pilger: "Israel's Gaza Rampage: It's Not Just War,", November 21, 2012]

[US President Barack Obama ... came up with this: "There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.... Obama's drones do rain Hellfires from Pakistan to Yemen--Pepe Escobar, "Obama the Pivot,", November 22, 2012]

[ . . . three Israelis were killed in the fighting from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19, compared with 95 Palestinians. Looking all the way back to 2006, an estimated 47 Israelis have lost their lives in such fighting, compared with 2,879 Palestinians.--Alexander Reed Kelly, "Counting the Gaza Dead,", November 22, 2012]

BBC Question Time, November 22, 2012

[The draft resolution blocked by the United States explicitly condemned all acts of terrorism and violence towards civilians, reaffirmed the right of all states to live in peace within secure and recognized borders, and called for an immediate and durable ceasefire. It reiterated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could only be resolved through peaceful means and called for an immediate resumption of a substantive bilateral negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.--Stephen Zunes, "Abetting Murder in Gaza,", November 26, 2012]

[First, you are a Gazan, wondering why your Mediterranean stretch of land hasn't been turned into the seaside paradise it could be -- with a vigorous fishing trade, sustainable agriculture, holiday tourists frolicking on the beautiful beaches, and a healthy Palestinian state partly funded by abundant natural gas supplies beneath the Gazan soil. Why instead it feels like a high-security prison camp, garroted by Arab-hating Israelis to the North and disinterested Egyptians to the South? Fulminant crews of IDF praetorians are prepared to confiscate your water and food and electricity at the slightest offense. Your people are a perpetual pariah on the global stage, like a troublesome relative at the holiday dinner, prone to revealing family secrets nobody wants to hear. And now this. The leader of Hamas, negotiating an extended ceasefire with Israel, is assassinated by... Israel. You find the level of hypocrisy staggering. Then you hear that supposed friend of the Middle East, Barack Obama, tell the world that he supports Israel's right to defend itself. Evidently your people have no such right.--Jason Hirthler, "An Exercise in Cultural Empathy: From Gaza to the Hindu Kush,", November 27, 2012]

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