Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Shock, Awe and Lies: The Truth Behind the Israeli Attack on Gaza
From Chris Floyd:
Here is a simple, stone cold fact. You cannot read or hear the truth about what is happening in Gaza from any corporate media in the United States. The only thing you will find there are regurgitations of Israeli spin, which are themselves only regurgitations of the kind of spin that American militarists have put on their own depredations -- for centuries now. Up and down the American media and political establishments, you will find nothing but bleatings about Israel being "forced" to launch its vicious blunderbuss attacks against heavily populated Gaza because of the "recent spate of Hamas bombings" since the end of a six-month ceasefire.
This is of course a damnable and deliberate lie. Papers in Israel -- in Israel, but not the United States -- are reporting the truth: the murderous assault on Gaza was planned not only before the six-month ceasefire ended -- it was planned before the cease-fire even took effect. Indeed, the cease-fire was part of the military plan to decimate the civilian areas of Gaza; it was a hoax, a scam, a deliberate feint to buy time for military preparations -- precisely the same strategy followed by the Bush Regime (and its bipartisan Establishment supporters) in "going to the UN" to seek a "peaceful solution" to the "Iraqi crisis" -- when the invasion was already in the works.
Haaretz reports on the Israel's deceit in the latest outrage, in the aptly titled piece, "Disinformation, secrecy and lies: How the Gaza offensive came about":
Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public - all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces "Cast Lead" operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning. he disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.
Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well..
The story also notes that the recent racheting of tension was sparked, deliberately, by a heavy-handed Israeli incursion into Gaza:
The plan of action that was implemented in Operation Cast Lead remained only a blueprint until a month ago, when tensions soared after the IDF carried out an incursion into Gaza during the ceasefire to take out a tunnel which the army said was intended to facilitate an attack by Palestinian militants on IDF troops....
While Barak was working out the final details with the officers responsible for the operation, Livni went to Cairo to inform Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, that Israel had decided to strike at Hamas. In parallel, Israel continued to send out disinformation in announcing it would open the crossings to the Gaza Strip and that Olmert would decide whether to launch the strike following three more deliberations on Sunday - one day after the actual order to launch the operation was issued.
"Hamas evacuated all its headquarter personnel after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday," one defense official said, "but the organization sent its people back in when they heard that everything was put on hold until Sunday."
Not only did this deception lead Hamas to send its officials back to work -- it also meant that there was no general warning to the masses of civilians packed like sardines into Gaza's hellish confines. It meant that civilian casualties would be maximized -- especially when the initial assault was launched in the middle of the day, with thousands of schoolchildren out at their lesson.
As Glenn Greenwald notes, Israel's massive bombing of civilian areas -- even if couched in terms of "retaliation" for scattershot strikes on Israeli territory by a political faction -- constitutes "a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions." Greenwald also adroitly turns Barack Obama's campaign kowtowing to Israeli militarism on its head:
[Obama on the campaign trail]: "The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. And so I can assure you that if -- I don't even care if I was a politician -- if somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
Can't the exact same mentality be deployed to justify everything Hamas has done and is doing, to wit: "if a foreign power were brutally occupying my country for four decades -- or blockading my country and denying my children medical needs and nutrition and the ability even to exit -- I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Palestinians to do the same thing"? But the last thing that our political class ever extends is reciprocal, two-sided analysis to this dispute.
What is the ultimate context of this carnage? The fact that the Arab inhabitants of Palestine had their land taken away from them by force -- not in some ancient, historic era, but within the lifetime of many thousands of Palestinians still living. I hold no brief for Hamas; like the Angry Arab, whose coverage of the conflict has been relentless and penetrating, I don't care for any party based on religious extremism. But as Greenwald notes, every action taken by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups could be characterized as "retaliation" for the theft of their land, not to mention the war crime of collective punishment and genocidal blockades visited upon the Occupied Territories for years.
But there is not a single peep of this perspective from America's ruling class and its media courtiers. Of course, it is a bit much to expect a nation which itself was built on land theft, repression and slaughter to see anything wrong or "disproportionate" in Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. What else are you supposed to do when those dang heathen savages come around with their war parties and tomahawks, trying to get back the land that God Almighty has granted to good white folk?
Meanwhile, here's what Israel's "Manifest Destiny" looks like on the ground in Gaza. From the Maan News Agency (via the Angry Arab, as was the photo above):
Death shrouds the hallways of Gaza City's Ash-Shifa medical compound Saturday, its smell creeping in from all corners. mputated bodies are strewn throughout hallways because morgues in the city can no longer accommodate the dead. In one corner a man stands with his seven year old son in a cardboard box because the hospital ran out of sheets to cover the dead with. This is how he will carry him home and bury him. Another man stands dazed, in shock after watching his son Mohammed killed during his graduation ceremony at the de facto police headquarters. The father of one of Mohammed's classmates stood next to his son as he was decapitated. The man is still screaming.
In the packed hospital waiting room a mother sits silently staring into the distance; her son was pronounced dead shortly after she brought him in... Forty-year-old mother Nawal Al-Lad'a did not find the bodies of her two sons in the medical compound, so she left to look amid the rubble.
Husam Farajallah, a university student, was at the hospital collecting the body of his relative. He called what happened in Gaza a "black day" in the lives of all Palestinians, and wondered how the world could watch and do nothing.
Medics in Gaza confirmed that the majority of those killed in the day's attacks were civilians, including men, women and children. Most were cut to pieces, making the job of doctors and medics difficult, and the task of giving bodies back to families painful and gruesome. The medics working in the field continue to dig up bodies from the densely populated urban areas of Gaza City.
The scenes remind many Palestinians of the images that came out of the Sabra and Shatila massacres from Beirut in 1982, when thousands of Palestinians were killed by the Lebanese Phalangist militia.
As the death toll climbs and no word on a halt to the attacks has come from Israel, Gazans fear for their lives and loved ones.