By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
War of Terror in Gaza
Remember Sabra and Shatilla? These were the two Palestinian refugee camps
in Lebanon where an estimated 1,700 to 3,500 civilian residents -- men,
women and children -- were massacred in 1982 by pro-Israel Lebanese
phalangist militia units with the protective shield and go-ahead of
Israeli Defense Forces. IDF commander Gen Ariel Sharon was found
"indirectly responsible" for the massacres and was forced to resign. But
he eventually went on to be Israel Prime Minister after several years.
This long record of impunity for the Israeli government in barefaced
aggression and military overkill, perpetrating gross human rights
violations, war crimes and even genocide must be seen in the context of
unshakeable US backing – military, economic, political and diplomatic.
With the acquiescence of the other big powers, this unstinting and
continuing US support explains in large part the destructiveness,
brutality and callousness exhibited by the IDF in the recent attacks on
Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir said that no matter how clever
or powerful Israel was it would not be able to carry out the offensive
without the US acting as a "big brother" providing the money and the
weaponry for Israel's renewed war of aggression. Thus, the US is "much
more guilty than even the Israelis" for the civilian carnage and the
ratcheting up of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East.
Israel remains the single biggest recipient of US aid getting a hefty US
$3 billion annually. A country of approximately 6 million people, it is
currently receiving more US aid than all of Africa, Latin America and the
Caribbean taking out Egypt and Colombia. It has a nuclear arsenal that
would be the envy of any of the countries named by US President Bush as
constituting an "axis of evil".
Despite international outcry against mounting civilian casualties and the
massive humanitarian crisis the Israeli assault has given rise to, the US
government is unrelenting in its support. The US sabotaged a draft UN
resolution that called for a ceasefire, addressing the humanitarian
crisis, as well as the resumption of peace talks. It rejected calls for
Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and attacked the proposed resolution
for not condemning Hamas' firing rockets into Southern Israel as
In fact, it was Israel that had made a months-old truce untenable by
keeping Gaza under siege. Since Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian
Legislative Council in January 2006, Israel, Washington and the West have
withheld recognition and all outside aid; an economic embargo and
sanctions were imposed; and the legitimate government subjected to
vilification and political isolation.
The Israeli government claims that Hamas initiated the hostilities by
raining rockets on Israeli villages are belied by reports that IDF forces
had earlier intruded into Palestinian territory purportedly to close off
tunnels allegedly used by Hamas to smuggle arms and had killed six Hamas
officers in the process. Since the six-month ceasefire ended, Israeli
troops have crossed the border several times, while Hamas resumed shelling
nearby Israeli towns.
US President Bush immediately justified Israel's attack by demonizing the
Hamas regime as a "terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria." US
Secretary of State Rice strongly rejected outright any ceasefire that
didn't meet Israel's conditions. President-elect Barack Obama, heretofore
silent on the raging global issue, finally expressed "deep concern" for
the loss of civilian life after Israeli tank shells killed at least 40
Palestinians at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter on the third
day of the invasion.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is certainly not about Israel and Palestine
alone. It is about oil. It is about who controls the Middle East. And it
is about the US drive for world domination currently in the guise of a
US-instigated "global war on terror".
Mainstream media have always portrayed and explained the conflict in terms
of the Palestinians' struggle to return to their homeland, on one hand,
and the Israeli state's right to exist on the other. But in fact, from the
very start, world powers have manipulated and even instigated the conflict
according to their interests and designs, the ordinary Palestinians and
Israelis be damned.
To begin with, the British government played a central role in arranging
for the migration of tens of thousands of Jews to Palestine and in
violently displacing the Palestinians from their lands. Then, the US
engineered the lopsided 1948 UN resolution to partition Palestine into a
Jewish state and a Palestinian state. The Palestinians rejected the
resolution, rightfully protesting that they were not consulted, and the
partition favored the Jews heavily. The resulting armed conflict ended in
the Palestinians' defeat, mass expulsion from Palestine and their seeking
refuge in neighboring Arab states. To this date, their just struggle to
return to their homeland continues.
With the intensification of the Cold War after the Korean War and the rise
in Arab nationalism and unity in the late 50s, the Middle East became a
flashpoint with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in focus. The so-called
Arab-Israel wars, ostensibly over the Palestinian issue, were in fact
proxy wars by the world superpowers for control of the Middle East, with
Israel serving as the US' surrogate force against the Soviet-backed Arab
states. Since then, and especially with the emergence of the US as sole
superpower, Israel has grown into a bully whose arrogance, brutality and
ruthlessness is matched only by its mentor and backer, the US.
The International League for People's Struggle in a statement condemning
the invasion and the escalating massacre of the Palestinian people said,
"The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in
the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing
countries in the region, making them military and political clients and
controlling the oil resources."
One does not have to be partisan for Hamas or against the Israeli
government to acknowledge the truth articulated by UN President Miguel
d'Escoto Brockman on the day of the Gaza airstrikes, "The behavior by
Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by
a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies."#