Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 12 January 2009
More pain as
Despite a UN
This is now the
third week of the Israeli war on
Since Hamas and
government buildings have already been destroyed, the dropping of leaflets
seems more like a device by
Palestinians are reporting “white clouds” appearing in the sky, and human rights groups are warning of the Israeli use of white phosphorous shells dropped from the air, each of which disperses the phosphorous to an area the size of two football fields.
It causes the most
painful injury and death, burning the skin to the bone. The use of
white phosphorous against civilians is banned under international law.
The Times of London first exposed the use of this weapon on 8 January,
reporting how doctors in
The effect of this
weapon is just one strand of the terror the people of
“When the attack began, a tide of diplomats, lobby groups, bloggers and other supporters of Israel were unleashed to hammer home a handful of carefully crafted core messages to ensure Israel was seen as the victim, even as its bombardment killed Palestinians,” according to The Observer of London on 4 January.
This was something
planned long ahead, said the former Israeli ambassador to the UN who
was recruited to coordinate
According to the
Observer article, in the Israeli propaganda plan, Hamas is to be portrayed
only as terrorists. Its actions are nothing to do with the continued
occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of
The Israeli media
war has played out the way the Observer article predicted.
The big issue of contention for Palestinians is Israel’s tightening blockade of Gaza, supported by the US and EU, which has choked off the supply of food, medicines, water supply, electricity – a form of collective punishment for the citizens for electing Hamas.
Hamas, the elected
government, is portrayed as criminal when it attempts to obtain weapons
for security against a deadly enemy. But
There is no objection from the Western governments when bombs with white phosphorous are used against civilians.
Robert Fisk, the
renowned journalist and Middle East expert, says it is amazing so many
Western leaders and media editors have bought the old lie that
He lists many Israeli atrocities of the past which he covered as a journalist, in which the massacre of civilians was deliberate. These include the 17,500 dead in Israel’s 1992 invasion of Lebanon, the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre, the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees at a UN base, the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew, the 1,000 dead in the bombardment and invasion of Lebanon in 2006, almost all of them civilians.
Fisk predicted that
Two other articles
in The Independent (7 January) throw even more light on the war on
Some Israeli leaders,
like President Shimon Peres, want to teach Hamas a lesson and damage
its capability. And more hawkish leaders, such as Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, want regime change
Seen in this light, the Hamas rockets are only the pretext to win public support for the war unleashed on Gaza, while the other two are the wider and real objectives and explain why Israel is so extensively and indiscriminately bombing Gaza, to take out Hamas and to collectively punish civilians until they stop their support for Hamas.
The other article,
by Deborah Orr, and headlined “There wouldn’t have been
She criticizes the
Middle East envoy Tony Blair and others who believe that there can be
a ceasefire very soon if the tunnels from
Orr said it is a shame that Blair did not express his ambitions another way, that a ceasefire can be negotiated soon if legitimate channels for importing all goods but arms into Gaza is opened up.
But such a suggestion
might be seen as critical of
Calling for the
blockade to be dismantled, Orr remarked that under a ceasefire, there
is no justification for the continued siege against
“It is unreasonable
“It is unreasonable to sabotage Hamas in its social work as a region’s selected administrator, because we fear this may also burnish its popularity as an anti-Zionist group. Yes, the rockets must stop. But so must the siege.”
The protests have
also taken place in
Among the most touching
of the protests was the attendance of Friday prayers by hundreds of
The mosque may be bombed out, but our faith is not shaken and our resistance is strengthened, according to an old man interviewed on the spot by Al Jazeera. One day we will just build a bigger mosque, he said.