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    US Delivers Both Life – and Death – to a Devastated Gaza

    Civil societyHuman rightsUS Delivers Both Life – and Death – to...
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    US Delivers Both Life – and Death – to a Devastated Gaza

    The most blatant examples are countries that rushed to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion but backed Israel’s assaults on civilians in Gaza, and vice versa.

    The Biden administration’s sheer hypocrisy is reflected in its policy of dropping food packages into a devastated Gaza, while at the same time, it continues to arm Israel with missiles and heavy artillery to kill Palestinian civilians suffering hunger and starvation.

    As US Congressman Ro Khanna (Democrat of California) said last week: “You can’t have a policy of giving aid (to Palestinians) and giving Israel the weapons to bomb the food trucks at the same time”

    And as the New York Times put it: “From the skies over Gaza these days fall American bombs and American food pallets, delivering death and life at the same time, and illustrating President Biden’s elusive effort to find balance in an unbalanced Middle East war.”

    Mouin Rabbani, Co-Editor of Jadaliyya and Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, told IPS the US deliveries of token amounts of aid to the besieged Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip has several, inter-related dimensions:

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    At one level, he pointed out, the air drops, plans for a mobile pier, and the like are pure theater, smoke and mirrors intended to divert scrutiny away from active US participation and complicity in Israel’s genocidal assault, including its medieval siege, on the Gaza Strip.

    “The current crisis has demonstrated Israel’s extraordinary dependence on the US and its inability to conduct sustained military operations or evade accountability without US sponsorship.”

    Dual approach

    Yet the US, he said, has made it a matter of policy not to instruct its Israeli proxy to either cease its genocidal onslaught, nor to terminate a siege that is explicitly designed to produce famine, epidemic disease, and the like.

    “To the contrary, Washington has deployed the full range of its influence, including the delivery of tens of thousands of tons of high explosives, UNSC vetoes, and bullying of its allies and client regimes, to ensure that Israel can continue with its genocidal onslaught and continue to do so with impunity.”

    These theatrical air drops are as much of a charade as is the recent decision to promote an image of opposition to Israel’s state policy of West Bank settlement expansion by sanctioning four Israeli settlers, Rabbani said.

    A calculation of the ratio of bread to bombs delivered by the US to the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip tells you all you need to know regarding US intentions, priorities, and preferences, he declared.

    In an oped piece for IPS, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a retired professor of international relations, most recently, at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, wrote the dual approach of supporting Israel’s security needs while also providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians is part of the US’ broader diplomatic effort to balance its interests in the region.

    However, the United States’ effort to promote regional security by supporting Israel’s right to defend itself while advocating for the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and acting on them presents a dilemma for President Biden.

    US presidential elections

    The Biden administration may well have to resort to direct measures to force Netanyahu to change his policy, he added.

    “It should be noted that the upcoming US presidential elections in November are playing a role in Netanyahu’s strategy. If there are only two people in the world who want Trump to win the election this fall, the first is Trump himself, and the second is Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister will do everything in his power to undermine President Biden’s re-election.”

    He is cheering the fact that President Biden is intensely criticized by some Congressional Democrats as well as a multitude of young voters who oppose his unwavering support of Israel while tens of thousands of Palestinians have died and counting. He will prolong the war as long as it serves his personal interest and weakens Biden politically as he is embarking on his re-election campaign.

    “President Biden should not allow Netanyahu to set the agenda. He must now take definitive measures to alert the Israeli public that, although the US commitment to Israel’s national security is unshakable, the US administration differentiates between the state of Israel and the current Netanyahu government with which he has fundamental disagreements, said Dr Ben-Meir, who taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

    Elaborating further, Rabbani said every specialist and agency that has commented on these air drops has without exception concluded that air drops cannot even begin to address the humanitarian emergence created by the US and Israel in the Gaza Strip, but that this can be addressed by the delivery of aid which is already present through overland routes.

    “The latter would require no more than a phone call from the White House to the Israeli government. Washington has made a policy decision not to pursue this option”.

    Grim marker

    Secondly, these charades are intended to legitimize Israel’s genocidal onslaught on the Gaza Strip, much as the November temporary truce was, in the words of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, required to maintain Western endorsement for Israel’s war and for its resumption and intensification in early December of last year.

    Given the above, Palestinians would be better off without these air drops, particularly since at least five have already been killed by them, declared Rabbani.

    Meanwhile, in a new report released March 13, CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations (CSOs), said hypocrisy by powerful countries undermined the rules-based international order in 2023, making it harder to promote human rights and resolve the world’s most devastating wars.

    In its 13th annual State of Civil Society Report, the Johannesburg-based CIVICUS detailed how powerful states selectively chose to respect international laws, shielding allies but castigating enemies.

    The most blatant examples are countries that rushed to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion but backed Israel’s assaults on civilians in Gaza, and vice versa.

    “Armies, rebels and militia around the world committed horrific human rights abuses in 2023 because they knew they could get away with it thanks to a flailing international system full of double standards,” said Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS Chief Officer of Evidence and Engagement.

    “Starting with the UN Security Council, we need global governance reform that puts people at the centre of decision making,” he declared.

    Asked about a report from the Gaza Health Ministry that deaths in Gaza have now topped 31,000, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters March 13: “It’s another grim marker, and I wish we weren’t here waiting for these markers to fall’.

    “What we want yet again, and we’ll call it for it again, is an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, a silencing of the guns so we can get the humanitarian access that we need, we can run the humanitarian operations on a scale that we need, that the civilians in Gaza can stop suffering, can get food, can get the basic services they need, and that we see the hostages, the Israeli hostages and others still held in Gaza immediately released,” he said.

    Senators’ letter

    Meanwhile, amid the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, US Senators. Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, and five Democratic colleagues in the Senate on Monday sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to enforce federal law by requiring Netanyahu’s government to stop restricting humanitarian aid access to Gaza or forfeit U.S. military aid to Israel.

    In the letter, the senators made clear that Netanyahu’s interference in U.S. humanitarian operations in Gaza violates Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, also known as the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act.

    The law states: “No assistance shall be furnished under this chapter or the Arms Export Control Act to any country when it is made known to the President that the government of such country prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance,” according to a press release from the office of Senator Sanders.

    To President Biden, the senators wrote: “According to public reporting and your own statements, the Netanyahu government is in violation of this law. Given this reality, we urge you to make it clear to the Netanyahu government that failure to immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza will lead to serious consequences, as specified under existing U.S. law.”

    “The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with U.S. humanitarian assistance,” the senators continued.

    “Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza, and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address U.S. concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government.”

    Image: Gaza Strip lies in ruins. Credit: UNRWA/Ashraf Amra. February 2024

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