US Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Syrian government forces of killing 1,429 people, including 426 children, in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last week described as an “inconceivable horror” and “a crime against conscience”.
President Obama is considering lethal punitive strikes against the Assad regime, strikes that Britain, for one, will not take part in.
In a press release yesterday (Friday) the US government says it concludes “with high confidence” that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in Damascus on August 21, and that any scenario in which the opposition did the dirty deed is “highly unlikely”.
The assessment states: “We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.” Oh, I heard the Israelis supplied that titbit.
But, says the assessment, “we will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place”. Will those gaps be closed before, or after, the cruise missile button is pushed?
It adds, rather mysteriously: “There is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.” So we ordinary citizens, who will witness the punishment and in whose name punishment will be inflicted, cannot question or challenge the ‘evidence’ on which it is based.
How extraordinary that the figures quoted – 1.429 including 426 children – are almost identical to those slaughtered in Gaza by the Israeli regime’s thugs during Operation Cast Lead. I don’t recall nearly so much moral outrage and condemnation from the White House for that atrocity, or any talk of lethal ‘punishment’ to be inflicted on Tel Aviv.
Let’s remind ourselves that in the winter of 2008/9 Israel intensively bombed Gaza for three weeks killing 1,396 Palestinians including 345 children, 110 women and 117 elderly people and injuring and maiming some 5,450 more. Israel also destroyed or damaged 58,000 homes (ICAHD puts it nearer 42,000 of which 4,247 were totally destroyed), 280 schools, 1,500 factories and water and sewage installations.
And Israel’s forces used prohibited weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorus shells. White phosphorus, Mr Kerry, is an extremely nasty chemical weapon. Wasn’t that a red line?
Furthermore, Israel blocked necessary materials for reconstruction.
How would Boston, Massachusetts, have looked after such an onslaught?
Next came Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation launched against the Gaza Strip last November. The IDF struck more than 1,500 sites in the process killing 133 Palestinians of whom 53 were civilians. An estimated 840 were wounded and many families displaced. One Israeli airstrike killed ten members of the same family.
Throughout the crisis western leaders, news readers, chat-show hosts and assorted pundits focused on the “thousands” of rockets fired by Hamas. Actually some 1,500 were fired, 10 percent failing to clear Gaza’s boundary fence, following an upsurge of IDF provocation attacks on Gazan civilians in the days leading up to the operation. The continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip and the never-ending occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem were also reasons. Was anyone keeping count of the numbers of state-of-the-art bombs, rockets, tank-shells and other ordnance fired by Israel into the densely-packed population of Gaza?
What would be the Palestinians’ reward if Hamas scrapped all their rockets tomorrow?
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was reported as saying: “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately in order to allow the situation to de-escalate.”
Cowardly acts? Who is the coward? Israel, which uses sophisticated state-of-the-art weaponry (courtesy of the US taxpayer) to relentlessly attack an unarmed, half-starved and overcrowded population who have nowhere to run because their borders have been sealed 24/7 for 6 years, or Gaza’s guerrillas who fight back with anything that comes to hand including garden-shed rockets?
What if Hamas dumped all their rockets in the sea tomorrow? Would the illegal blockade be lifted? Would Gazans enjoy the same freedoms as other nations? Would their democratically elected government be allowed to get on and govern? Would they be able to open their sea port to foreign ships and rebuild and operate their airport? Would they be able to import and export and carry on trade and develop their economy and prosper like other countries?
Would they be allowed to develop and benefit from their offshore gas field? Would their fishermen be allowed to fish in unpolluted waters? Would their young people be able to come and go and take up places at foreign universities?
Would Israel clear out of Gaza’s airspace permanently? Would the Israeli navy cease its piracy and stay out of Palestinian territorial waters? Would you and I be able to visit Gaza direct?
Fat chance. None of this would suit America’s friend Israel.
There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank. Yet the illegal Israeli occupation there continues and so does the ethnic cleansing, the land theft, the illegal squatter ‘settlements’, the colonization (a war crime), the demolition of Palestinian homes, the throttling of the economy, the abduction and ‘administrative detention’ of civilians and the massive interference with freedom of movement. Nothing has changed for West Bank Palestinians who DO NOT FIRE ROCKETS. And there is no sign of an end to their torment.
The bloody assaults on Gaza therefore have more to do with Israel’s ambition to expand racial dominance in the Holy Land, make their occupation permanent, seize Gaza’s offshore gas field and hang on to Syria’s Golan Heights – all thanks to the impunity guaranteed by America and its endless Security Council vetoes – than the paltry damage from crude and erratic rocket-fire. The Palestinians holed up in Gaza are simply in the way of the Grand Plan and must be removed or totally subdued.
During Pillar of Defence Interior Minister Eli Yishai said: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.”
According to RT Network http://rt.com/news/israel-
Journalist, Gilad Sharon, the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in an editorial in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday called for Gaza to be flattened like the US flattened the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 with an atomic bomb.
“We need to flatten all of Gaza. The American’s didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough – so they hit Nagasaki too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire,” ranted Sharon.
As the former Prime Minister’s son publicly urged the military to wipe Gaza off the map, a member of the Knesset and the National Unity Party, Michael Ben-Ari, called for Israeli soldiers to kill Gazans without thought or mercy. “There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives – mow them down!” it was reported on the Hakol HaYehudi website.
Israel Katz, the country’s transport minister, has called “for Gaza to be bombed so hard the population has to flee into Egypt.” While Avi Dichter, the minster of home front defense, has urged the IDF to “reformat” Gaza – to wipe it clean with bombs.
Obama, Cameron and Hague pledge support for these maniacs, implicating all of us in their foul crimes. I’d like to consign those prating politicians (and their families, for punitive bombing engulfs women, children and old folk too) to just one night of the London blitz and see how they’d like it. London at least had defences, properly functioning emergency services and an extensive subway network. Gaza doesn’t. Nor does Damascus, yet.
Actually I’d like to include the entire United Nations Security Council in that chilling experience
The Palestinians had no history of violence until their lands were threatened then partitioned and finally overrun by a brutal intruder whose greed is never satisfied. It is interesting that demands for Palestinians to cease their terror campaign (if you buy the idea that resistance = terror) are never accompanied by corresponding demands of Israel.
Selective impunity rules!
Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF then pursued a career in industrial marketing.
More recently he worked as a freelance and with innovation consultancies. Psychology degree Exeter University, Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor 1993-97 and on the Police Authority. Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Since retiring has been a newspaper columnist and produced two photo-documentary books. He is a regular contributor to a number of internet news magazines.
Stuart’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, tells the plight of the Palestinians under brutal occupation. It can now be read on the internet by visiting RadioFreePalestine.org.uk.