The latest attacks by Israel against Gaza have been condemned as a violation of international law. However the US and UK have given their unwavering support to the new strikes on Gaza.
US President Barack Obama “reiterated US support for Israel's right to self-defense in light of rocket attacks from Gaza” in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
Meanwhile UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also stepped forward in Israel’s defense, claiming that Hamas “bears principle responsibility” for the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Israel has now reportedly hit over 200 “targets” in Gaza, killing 13 and injuring over 120 people.
The unwavering support by the US and the UK is astounding, considering Israel has yet to comply with to any of the resolutions passed (see list) by the United Nations in relation to the Middle East conflict
Hamas and the Palestinians have to share some of the responsibility. Ever since Israel was accused of breaking the 10 year truce in 2006, when an explosion killed eight Palestinian civilians, Hamas have launched a number of rocket strikes into Israel. However their retaliations and attacks are severely outweighed and outmuscled by Israel’s military power.
In addition to the frequent air strikes and shelling, Israel has kept Gaza under blockade since 2010 which is seen as an infringement of the right of the people in Gaza to a decent living, work, health and education.
UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk explained that since the 1967 war, an estimated 750,000 Palestinians, including 23,000 women and 25,000 children, had gone through detention in Israeli jails. This constitutes approximately 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territory or 40 per cent of the Palestinian male population.
In 2008 Israel launched a 3 week offensive against Gaza, which resulted in 1,417 deaths, of them 926 civilians. Israel’s death toll was 9.
Egypt withdrew its ambassador following Israel’s announcement that it would intensify the military campaign and called an emergency UN meeting to discuss the escalating conflict. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr warned that further aggression from Israel could have “negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region.”
The Palestinian envoy to the UN slammed Israeli aggression during the meeting, decrying it as "vulgarly and publicly boasting about its willful killing of Palestinians.” Following Wednesday’s offensive that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari.
US Ambassador Susan Rice supported Israel saying there is no justification “for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel."
The meeting was adjourned without any conclusion, although the general message was to de-escalate the conflict in order to avert any more civilian casualties.
Maria Portnaya’s correspondent in New York reports that other UN Security Council members including Britain and Russia have called on both sides to exercise restraint and prevent any escalation of violence. Ban ki-moon the UN Secretary General also called for both sides to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.
At least 19 Palestinians have been reported dead so far, among them two children, according to Palestinian authorities.
At least 15 Palestinians have been reported dead so far, among them two children, according to Palestinian authorities.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern at the situation and voiced expectation that "Israeli reactions are measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed."
The White House released a transcript of President Obama’s communications with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night. Obama stressed Israel’s right to defend itself and has decried rocket fire from Gaza into the country.
"The President urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate," the White House statement said. Netanyahu’s office said that he “deeply appreciated” the President’s support.
The US justifies its unwavering support of Israel in its terrorist classification of Hamas. RT correspondent Gayane Chichikyan highlighted what is seen as the US’s double standard policy in its classification of terrorism, stressing they were not so quick to brand opposition attacks in Syria as “terrorism”, in spite the fact the UN condemns them as such.
“There seem to be different interpretations of the term ‘terrorism’ in Washington,” said Chichikyan.
A protest movement is already gathering momentum in response to the Israeli’s warmongering rhetoric. ‘Hacktavist’ group Anonymous reportedly attacked the Israeli Defense Ministry website.
They claimed to have blocked it, posting the trademark hashtag “tango down” on Twitter.
In Tel Aviv overnight, more than 100 activists turned up outside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Tel Aviv apartment complex to protest the IDF offensive.
They brandished anti-war banners and chanted slogans against the minister, such as “Defense Minister, Ddefense Minister, how many kids did you kill today?”, “Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples”, “Money for welfare, not war” and “No war for tycoons.”
Israel’s Meretz Hadash and the newly-formed Pirates Party had a strong presence at the protest.
“This will only bring death to Palestinians and Israelis, and we call on everybody who is able to stand by our side and fight against this step before civilians and soldiers on both sides are killed,” said Amit Ashkenazi, a spokesman for Hadash to the Jerusalem Post.
Meanwhile in Ramallah, hundreds flooded the streets of the West Bank, enraged by Israel’s offensive. They called for revenge for those slain in the rocket strikes and urged Palestinian forces to return fire into Israel.
In the Egyptian capital, crowds gathered outside the Israeli Embassy demanding its immediate closure, while demonstrations in solidarity of Gaza have also reportedly taken place in Istanbul Turkey.
Protests are expected in the Israeli cities of Haifa and Jerusalem on Thursday.