America Shares the blame for Israel’s war crimes

US-Supplied Planes and Bombs are Slaughtering Palestinian Children in Gaza

Al-Jazeera journalist in Gaza has to duck off camera as Israel bombs nearby building. (click image to play video)


When you’re watching those horrific images of massive explosions taking down high-rise apartment buildings in Gaza, and reading the statistics of dead in Gaza (195 dead, nearly half of them women and including over 40 children as young as six-months of age), remember that while it’s Israel bombing these buildings and killing these women, children and babies, it is all being done using American fighter-bombers and made-in-America bombs.

Lest there remained any doubt about this, when the Biden administration had a chance to use military aid as leverage to pressure the Netanyahu government in Israel not to launch an attack on Gaza, the president opted instead to approve the sale of $735 million worth of allegedly precision- guided bombs to Israel to the Israeli Defense Force’s already bulging stockpile, which is kept well supplied courtesy of $3.8 billion in free arms provided each year by US taxpayersby the US taxpayer. 

One of those bombs, it should be noted, was deliberately dropped on an apartment building that included among its tenants two international news organizations, that of the Associated Press, and of Al-Jazeera. The IDF reportedly gave a one-hour warning to the two international news organizations that it was going to bomb their building, which gave the staff time to leave, but that warning also gives the lie to the IDF’s excuse for that attack, which was a claim that the building was being use by Hamas fighters and rocket launchers. 

If that were the reason for the bombing, then such a warning, which AP and Al-Jazeera staff would certainly have relayed to neighboring and occupants of their building, would make no sense at all. It would also have given any Hamas fighters plenty of time to leave and escape the attack.

No, that attack was clearly designed to cut off or limit as much as possible AP and Al-Jazeera television broadcasts to the outside world documenting the massive Israeli assault on the 2 million people of Gaza.

The US has been playing a crooked game in this conflict as in conflicts between Israel and Palestinians in the past, always calling on “both sides” to call off the fighting and condemning the “violence on both sides,”  when what we really have is an embattled and imprisoned people trapped in gigantic prison camp fighting a battle of resistance against one of the world’s most powerful countries, Israel, with its significant nuclear arsenal and virtually endless backing from the United States.

The shadow-puppet show continued today with news that President Biden, after a phone conversation with Netanyahu, had called on “the two sides” in the fighting to accept a cease fire, only to have Israel’s IDF launch a major pre-dawn bombing raid on Gaza using over 100 bombs and rockets that reportedly killed 42 Palestinians, bringing the death toll of children in Gaza from IDF attacks to 52. 

Clearly, if Biden wanted a ceasefire in Israel he could have it happen in a minute by a threat to cut off US military aid.

Meanwhile, it is ludicrous to equate home-made unguided missiles fired off fairly randomly by Hamas at Israeli targets with Israel’s “smart bombs” and supersonic aircraft delivery systems, as well as its tanks which ring the captive territory firing at well into it.  (I should note that Israel’s IDF has been quite “precise” with using it’s “precision” US bombs to hit health facilities in Gaza, another war crime for which the US has to share the blame.)

Israel’s attack on the captive, hemmed-in Gaza Strip is about as close to shooting fish in a barrel as a real act of war can be. It also bears an unseemly resemblance to the Nazi Wehrmacht’s final assault on and leveling of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw during the spring of 1943.

It is also a war crime. When apartment buildings full of civilians, and especially children, who under the Geneva Convention are a “protected class” which has to be especially protected from harm during wartime, is attacked, even if the attack is motivated by the presence of enemy combatants in the building, it is required that the attacker consider the matter of proportionality. If the person or persons being attacked are few in number and the casualties will be overwhelmingly civilian, and particularly if many children are likely to be victims, the attack can be considered a war crime. It is a war crime in another way too, since the bombings, rockets and tank fire into Gaza by the IDF are a form of banned “collective punnishment” differing in no way from what the German Wehrmacht practiced during it’s brutal Eastern Front war against the Soviet Union, and its fight against resistance forces in France and other occupied countries. 

Francis Boyle, an professor of international law and an expert on the Geneva Convention, has written concerning the present Israeli war on Gaza, “Biden has knowingly let US weapons to be used by Israel to commit war crimes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the US Arms Control Expert Act, and the Arms Supply Agreement between the US and Israel.” 

Most of the media coverage of the Israeli assault on Gaza has either been supportive of Israel’s “right to protect itself” from the primitive if ingenious home-made rockets being fired  into Israel by Hamas forces in Gaza, or have portrayed the conflict as a kind of even-handed fight between two equally culpable and dangerous adversaries, while pointing a critical finger at Hamas for using poorly aimed missiles to fire into populated areas of Israel while Israel uses ‘precise” weapons. But that “right to defend” does not apply to “defense” against territories occupied by or controlled by a country.

The lie to this classic “on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand” kind of pseudo-journalism practiced by the US media, and to the notion that at Hamas and its fighters and the Netanyahu government and IDF are equally to blame for the current fighting and equally guilty of war crimes, was exposed powerfully recently by the Philadelphia Inquirer in an op-ed  by a Jewish op-ed staff writer named Abraham Gutman.

In a Sunday piece headlined “US left should be speaking out on Palestinian plight,” Gutman, who grew up in Israel and says he has family currently living in Tel Aviv in range of rocket fire from Gaza, nonetheless correctly points out that Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations only began launching their explosive-tipped rockets into Israel at “the culmination of a weekend in which Israeli security forces brutalized Palestinian protesters and worshipers, including in the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most sacred mosques in Islam.” He quotes a fellow Philadelphian,  Lebanese-born attorney Jawad Salah, who tells him that while firing un-aimed rockets is “deplorable,” it is important to remember that such an action “always has a context.”  And, Gutman adds, English-language media never report on that context when Hamas and Palestinians are involved.

That context in this case, he says is:  “This story starts in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood nearly 6000 miles away from  Philadelphia that many Americans probably never heard of.”

As he describes it, right-wing Jewish activists in Israel, “in their continuing effort to control the occupied territory of East Jerusalem, have been invoking an [Israeli] law that allows Jews to reclaim homes they lost” in the partition of Jerusalem at the conclusion of the 1948 independence war that lead to Israel’s founding. All such Jewish home-expropriators need to oust a Palestinian family from their home, he says, is an old pre-1948 land deed showing family ownership. (It sounds a bit like the scam common in Philadelphia where hustlers steal homes from poor Philadelphians by showing up with a title and forged bill of sale.)

Furthermore, as he points out, many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were also ousted from their homes in the wake of that same 1948 war when the state of Israel was founded, and the law “doesn’t offer Palestinian residents a similar right to claim homes currently inhabited by Jews” from which their families might have fled to escape the violence during the same war.

The recent Palestinian evictions in East Jerusalem led to protests in Sheikh Jarrah in early May where, as Gutman reports, “Israeli security forces responded brutally — from  violent arrests to the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.”  The violence escalated and extended to into the al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan prayers.  It was at that point that Hamas first responded with rocket fire.

The IDF used that rocket fire as a pretext for the massive aerial bombardment of Gaza and the battle was on.

Gutman sees a parallel between the Palestinian struggle against the IDF, and the Black Lives Matter struggle against racist US policing that began with the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Fergusson, Missouri in 2017 and that took the entire US by storm after the televised slow-mo police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis a year ago.

Gutman is right in pointing all this out, but his audience should be broader. It’s not just American leftists, or at least liberals, who exhibit a blind spot when it comes to the Israeli abuse of Palestinians; it’s all Americans. It is the US that is financing the Israeli violence against Palestinian arabs in their own country and in the lands that they occupy and control with an iron fist and with military arms supplied by this country. We Americans are the ones who have the power and the moral imperative to put a stop to it.