Before this, Israel's third slaughter operation in Gaza in six years, the average American accepted Israel's propaganda line that, “Hamas terrorists in Gaza are raining down missiles on Israel, which is only exercising its legitimate rights of self-defense.”
They accepted this explanation because the pathetically timid American press was afraid to ask logical follow-up questions, like:
1. Does Israel's practice of regularly executing Gaza citizens by bomb or missile attack confer any self-defense rights on the citizens of Gaza? Or …
2. Does Israel's practice of blockading Gaza and strangling its economy create circumstances under which the citizens of Gaza are allowed to indicate their displeasure with Israel in any way?
Apparently, this kind of follow-up was beyond the capability of most members of the American press.
Thanks, however, to the courage of some on the scene reporting from people like Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC, and Nic Robertson and Karl Penhaul of CNN, plus the online activism of Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, and the people at Mondoweiss.net, a more complete picture of Israel's action in Gaza is emerging.
A few relevant facts:
The Gaza Strip, which was taken by Israel in the 1967 war, occupies an area one-tenth the size of the smallest state in the US, Rhode Island, with twice that state's population.
Israel has had the Gaza Strip under land, air, and sea blockade for seven years. Israel dictates who and what can enter and leave Gaza. Israel periodically executes Gaza residents it claims are 'terrorists'.
Gaza fishermen are restricted to three miles from shore, and farmers are limited on how close to the Israel border they may farm. Violate the Israeli restrictions and one risks being shot.
Who Started It
Between October 2012 and July 7, 2014, Hamas honored a cease-fire with Israel and refrained from firing rockets into Israel, notwithstanding the crippling blockade and siege that Israel maintained over Gaza.
On June 2, 2014, the two Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, formed a unity government. This was extremely disturbing to the Netanyahu government in that it appeared to invalidate an Israeli argument that they couldn't negotiate peace with the Palestinians because they were divided. Israel was spoiling for another Gaza slaughter session.
On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teens were kidnapped hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank. On June 30, 2014, they were found dead. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately said, “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay.”
Netanyahu produced no evidence then, or now, to back up that claim.
On the pretext of first looking for the kidnapped teens and then punishing Hamas for their deaths, Israel arrested over 400 Palestinians, including over 335 with Hamas. They killed six Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and on July 7, they killed five members of Hamas in numerous strikes on Gaza.
Only then, on July 7, after the killing by Israel of six Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and five in Israeli-occupied Gaza, did Hamas respond with rocket fire into Israel.
Israel had what it wanted … an excuse to initiate a massive attack on Gaza, which they began on July 8.
As of August 14, 2014, the casualty count in Gaza is 1,957 dead. In Israel, 67 have been killed.
By Israel's own admission, roughly 50% of the casualties they inflicted in Gaza were civilians. UN figures have the percentage of civilians killed in Gaza much higher. It's clear that hundreds of young children were killed by Israel.
The casualties that Hamas was able to inflict on Israel were 64 soldiers and three civilians. No children were killed by Hamas.
For the most part, the Israelis stayed in their tanks, ships, and planes … all of which were state of the art and paid for by the United States taxpayer. They pummeled the citizens of Gaza, secure in the knowledge that Hamas had nothing that could touch them.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration was trying to get Israel to use more discriminating weaponry, like laser-guided and lighter weight bombs more appropriate for urban warfare. Their urgings were ignored.
Israel is apparently secure in the knowledge that as long as they have 535 really good, bought and paid for friends (the US Congress), they can continue to tell Barack Obama to go defecate in his chapeau.
Hamas, for its part, hunkered down and fired its primitive and mostly ineffective rockets and waited for an opportunity to confront Israeli soldiers face to face.
When the opportunity arose, Hamas soldiers stormed out of the tunnels they had constructed and, in a number of confrontations, succeeded in killing 64 Israeli soldiers in up-close-and-personal combat.
By and large, the press, especially the American press, stunk up the joint. Glenn Greenwald, one of the gutsiest journalists around, gave the American press a letter-grade of F on its coverage of the Israeli massacre.
There were exceptions. Ayman Mohyeldin was superb reporting from Gaza, as was Nic Robertson and Karl Penhaul of CNN. Mohyeldin did his job so well that the management of MSNBC pulled him out of the conflict. He was sent back into Gaza only after an online uproar forced MSNBC's hand.
The prize for one of the worst pieces of journalism ever goes to Sean Hannity of FOX for his interview of Netanyahu. It was hard to tell which one was pandering to the other the most. It looked like they couldn't wait until the interview was over so they could continue the bonding experience in private.
The present cease-fire in Gaza, plus the ISIS advance in Iraq, have taken the Gaza story off the front pages. This is fortunate for the Netanyahu government. The less scrutiny of their actions, the better for them.
We know now that Hamas does not use its tunnels for terror, or to blow up kindergartens, as Netanyahu was fond of suggesting. We know Hamas used those tunnels to confront Israeli soldiers who were killing the children of Gaza by the hundreds.
We are starting to know that the leadership of Hamas had nothing to do with the kidnapping and death of the three Israeli teens, and that Netanyahu government officials are admitting as much.
We are getting indications that the Netanyahu government knew, within 24 hours of the Israeli teens' kidnapping, that they were dead. They dragged out the 'search' for 18 days to build domestic support for a massive retaliatory attack on Hamas and establish empathy with the Diaspora.
I will post again on Thursday, September 11, 2014 (or before, if the news flow dictates) and, for the time being, I will post on the first Wednesday of each month.
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.