Terrorism as Self Defense: The US-Israeli Assault on Gaza

Stephen Warren, July 20, 2014

80% of 1.8 million people living in the 141 square mile Gaza Strip are refugees and their descendents, expelled from their homes in 1948, during the ethnic cleansing that created the state of Israel. Expansion and expulsion have continued ever since. Homes in the West Bank are continually destroyed to make way for more Israeli settlements. Always taking the best land and leaving the Palestinians with whatever Israel has no use for. Gaza is under siege.

Since 1967, both the West Bank and Gaza have been under Israeli Occupation. In 2005, the occupiers withdrew from Gaza, and replaced a brutal occupation with a brutal siege, creating the world’s largest open air prison. The blockade of Gaza is designed to make life absolutely miserable, and, as an Israeli diplomat stated, “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse.” Israel completely controls what gets allowed in. Repeated bombings have reduced much of Gaza to rubble, and they can’t rebuild because construction materials are barred. A calorie calculation was even made so Israel could allow Gazans just enough to survive. As a top Israeli advisor said, "the Palestinians will get a lot thinner but won’t die." Over 10% of Gaza children are chronically malnourished; 13% have stunted growth.

Civilians are regularly shot by Israeli forces near Gaza’s northern and eastern borders. Two boys were shot by Israeli snipers in the West Bank on May 15th. Arbitrary imprisonment is also routine. Water and sewage systems were destroyed in Israel’s ’08 invasion, leaving over half the population with a struggle just to get clean water. These systems have again been targeted in the current bombings. The whole strip is facing a water crisis.

In April a Palestinian unity government was formed. This was bad news for the occupier; it needs divided subjects. A response to the crime of unity was in order.

On June 12 the pretext for action came. Three Israeli teens were kidnapped in the West Bank. Israel immediately, without any evidence, blamed this on Hamas, and used it as an excuse to conduct 1500 raids, arresting 500 people, destroying two homes, and leaving several people dead. The three teens’ bodies were found June 30th. Israel knew all along that they were dead, but suppressed this information in order to justify the raids. Along with the bombing of a tunnel that killed six on July 6th, this aggression provoked the expected response form Hamas: rockets launched into Israel. This rocket fire was then used as the pretext for a full out bombardment of Gaza.

On the 15th, a ceasefire agreement, with wording that legitimized the blockade, was, quite expectedly, rejected by Hamas. This rejection was a further pretext for continued bombing.

As with the assault of 2008 that killed 1,400, and the assault of 2012 that killed 169, Israel is bombing mostly civilian targets, with the expected consequence of killing mostly civilians. At this writing, Sunday the 20th, 350 are dead, over 80% civilian, including 73 children; over 3,000 are wounded, including over 500 children; 60,000 are displaced and seeking shelter, thousands more would flee but have nowhere to go; 1,300 homes have been destroyed.

This is all rationalized as self defense. It shouldn’t have to be said that bombing civilians is not self defense. It’s terrorism. It’s terrorism when Hamas sends rockets into Israel; it’s terrorism when Israel bombs civilians in Gaza. Though Israeli terror is primary and far more effective (two Israeli civilians have been killed), both are reprehensible; both are war crimes.

This violence can’t continue without the US’s decisive support. Military aid to Israel is $3.1 billion a year. Far more than given to any other country. (And giving military aid to countries that violate international law is itself illegal.) Diplomatic support includes 42 vetoes of UN Security Council peace resolutions. Calling Israel’s acts of terror self defense, and ignoring the brutality of the occupation gives ideological support.

And our mainstream media plays right along with all of this, leaving the American public without a clue as to what is really happening.

The foundation of all this horror is the occupation. This is recognized by the whole world outside of Israel and the US. But it doesn’t matter that the rest of the world understands. Israel has no reason to stop it’s relentless expansion and repression so long as it has the unfailing support of the world’s sole super power. That won‘t change unless the US public demands it.

Until then, this senseless violence will continue.

Stephen Warren lives in Waverly, Virginia and can be contacted at stephenwarren000@gmail.com.




16 Responses to “Terrorism as Self Defense: The US-Israeli Assault on Gaza”

  1. […] brief history of what is going on in Palestine is in order. Stephen Warren at Antiwar.com wrote a great column today. In it he […]

  2. I watched Kerry again last night vigorously asserting, “Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket fire”, and to do what it’s doing.

    Well, what’s this ‘Israel’ then Mr Kerry? Kerry’s arguably correct but only if Israel means the geographic area and state defined by the 1948 border. In that case they would have the right to defend themselves. Given ‘Israel’ has exceeded that border, decades ago, and still insists it will not conform to international law and its borders and constantly uses force to change its territory boundaries. It refuses to make peace in good-faith.

    So ‘Israel’ is not Israel any more it’s just another aggressive territorial invader and annexing tyranny and it has no excuse or right to “defend itself” from any Palestinian via invading and killing them further.

    The codified UN right to self-defense does not extend only to states, any more than the Universal declaration of human rights extends only to states or corporations as ‘human’ legal entities. Every person has a right to defend and deter from attack. Being a State has nothing to do with a person’s right to individual and collective self-defense against an invader. I can do it in my own home if it’s invaded.

    If there was a Palestinian UN member State with a recognised legal right to defend itself from an attacker, by whatever means necessary, does anyone really think Israel would be any less inclined to attack, invade and annex it anyway? See Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and of course former Palestine itself.

    So ‘Israel’ calling the Palestinians ‘terrorists’ is nonsense, for if it was a legal State military that was using rocket artillery to defending Palestine, from Israeli aggression and land grabbing and occupation, Israel would bomb the civilians still – anyway!

    And Washington would still support ‘Israel’ with political cover and weapons regardless.

    You’ve correctly identified the real hypocrisy of Washington endlessly being at the very heart of Israeli aggression and conflicts, intimately implicated in all current and previous deaths in Gaza.

    Remember what occurred in the weeks before and right up to the day of the initial inauguration of Obama? The Israeli air force and navy only stopped killing ~1,400 Palestinians that time, due to a US Presidential inauguration.

    “Operation Cast Lead” they called it, December 27th 2008 to 18th January 2009 where ‘Israel’ killed around 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,000 (mostly women and children within family homes) and destroyed tens of thousands of homes and civil infrastructure in the process.

    But only 13 Israelis were killed during that conflict and that includes just three Israeli civilians!

    So who was ‘targeting’ the civilians again? Could there be any more clear-cut case of State-based terrorism? And there was a vicious bombardment crescendo just prior to the cease fire during Cast Lead.

    Obama was inaugurated hours after that horrendous three week bombardment of thousands of mostly unarmed civilians.

    Washington is cowardly encouraging more of it, and Kerry did it again just last night. It was the perfect opportunity to change that odious record of support for State-based terrorism against civilians, and instead all Kerry did was try to avoid his direct responsibility for ending the war crimes being committed right in front of his eyes as he watched a monitor, which he could stop at any time. And all he could say for himself instead was that, “war is brutal”.

    State-based terrorism to support invasion is not war.

    Washington’s spineless administration is yet again fully culpable for the ‘war’ and deaths occurring, and the land continually being stolen.

    And Mr Netanyahu, my Western home and city is not rocketed by anyone, because we’re not invading and stealing other people’s land and bombarding thousands within Gaza. But if we were doing any of that, then yes, I’d not be too surprised if my western city got rocketed, as we would then of course deserve to be rocketed – and then some.

  3. This senseless violence will continue weather the US public is informed or not. I'm not defending Israel by any means but if a ceasefire is initiated all this will do is give each side to restock make threats and start the bombing all over again. Its a circle of the Israel and Gaza (Hamas) conflict, it doesn't matter if we stop supporting, they will find other means.

  4. Thisguy: It certainly WILL make a difference. Israel only exists because of the military welfare sent by the unwilling U.S. taxpayer. All our Frealess Leader need do is tell the Israelis: Make nice, stop the blockade of Gaza, get out the West Bank, and your check's in the mail. Otherwise: you're cut off.
    It's so simple it just boggles the mind.

  5. I'm not convinced that Palestinians using a weak weapon pointed in the general direction of a far more powerful aggressor is a "war crime." It's all they have. The alternative is no attempt at self-defense at all.

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  7. I agree with Chris. A blockade is an act of war. Shooting the equivalent of fireworks at Israel is not terrorism in response. Also terrorism is a very weak word to describe Israel's actions. Genocide or ethnic cleansing are more appropriate terms. Sadly, the people of Gaza are suffering a slow painful death. It would be better for Gaza if Israel would just finish them off, but Israel needs this "conflict". They define their existence by having a weaker enemy to punish regularly. How else could they justify the money they receive from the U.S. Its a nice arrangement for them. The Palestinians in Gaza need to beg to get out and live in Israel. They need to declare themselves Israeli citizens and insist on equal rights. It would probably still not work, but it would cause Israel a lot more issues then some flimsy fireworks.

  8. Palestinians will always be Palestinians no matter how lives they lose they will keep fighting to regain their lands by right .

  9. The Gandhi-esque thing to do would be to simply gather everyone together- in the open- and simply walk towards the IDF with demands for humane treatment. Make sure it's all caught on camera by every media source that can get someone on the ground so that when the IDF opens up on civilians there will be no question about their orders and their intentions.

    1.8 million people can produce quite a large crowds- even without weapons or any intention of doing harm to the Israeli soldiers, enough of them would be nearly impossible for Israel to deal with.

    One has to wonder, since Israel has designated pretty much every Gazan a potential militant fighting for or aiding Hamas, what would happen if waves of Gazan civilians approached the IDF lines waving white flags of surrender? The IDF would then be obliged to take responsibility for them, ensure their safety, and provide food and shelter- unless they refused to accept their surrender, which would put them in a huge bind vis a vis the laws of war. That's the way for Gazan civilians to go- surrender and demand their rights per the Geneva Conventions.

  10. what self defence, Hamas is attcking Israel and then when Israel try to stop there attack they say self depance!!!
    fuct: Israel agree to sis fire, Hamas did not.
    The blockage was not allways there, its start with the terror atackes, and is aim is to prevent wepon to enter the Gaza strip to be used against Israel. Israel lets food water and all commercial goods enter to Gaza.

  11. right for land ??
    if you are cristien just look at the bibble
    if you are moslem just look at the qoran ( sura 5 farag. 21- 26)

  12. what will appand if milion of mexsicon will march to the american border ??
    by the way the media is no longer suplying informatin to the poblic, it supply entertaiment , there moto is " do not let the fuct intefire with the story "

  13. There was a cease-fire in place, and Israel broke it by bombing Gaza and killing a number of people 'suspected' of being Hamas, prompting a reply from Hamas in the form of rockets, which hit nothing and injured no one. Story closed.

    Then we have the trumped-up tale of the three Israeli teens, whose deaths were at the hands of two individuals acting on their own and not on the orders of Hamas or any other organization- and Netanyahu knew this within two days of the discovery of the deaths but his it for weeks to drum up war fever against Gaza. When Bibi reached critical mass on his march to war- regardless of the facts- he unleashed the IDF on Gazan civilians using the previous rocket attack (which was prompted by an Israel cease-fire infraction) as the official excuse but using the deaths of the teens as bait to whip up war fever in his public.

    Now, you tell me: with over 600 Gazans dead- and 80% or more of those civilians- and 31 Israelis dead- and all of those, IDF soldiers- who is more responsible for indiscriminate killing of innocent people? Who is the aggressor here? Gaza didn't attack Israel in a vacuum, for no reason- Hamas was goaded into it by the IDF, knowing exactly what the response would be. Looked at in another way, the IDF used Israeli citizens as bait for Hamas rockets- a tactic attributed to Hamas!

    As for the blockade, Israel certainly does NOT let 'food, water, and all commercial goods' into Gaza- if that were the case, Gaza would not be in the dire economic situation it is in now. Does the "Mavi Marmara" mean anything- commercial goods, no weapons, and attacked by the IDF. Top top it all off, the IDF is deliberately targeting water purification and power generation facilities, along with hospitals and clinics which are already swamped with the dead and wounded.

    I challenge YOU to go to Gaza and try to live there, if life is so wonderful there with 'food, water, and all commercial goods' flowing freely across the border. Go now, and tell us what it's like after just one week.

  14. We already have millions of Mexicans crossing our borders each year, and the effect it is having on American society is great. However, the circumstances are completely different- the US isn't an oppressive occupying force in Mexico, and the US isn't indiscriminately attacking Mexican civilians.

  15. If Israel had to go it alone and provide for itself, as a responsible nation should, it would be a lot less likely to be antagonistic towards its neighbors and the people of Gaza and Palestine, whose lands they occupy and treat like a prison. Without overt financial and military support- not to mention the political cover in the UN- provided by the US, Israel would be forced to make peace much sooner than later. As long as the US and any other donor nations continue to enable Israel's behavior, it will run roughshod over the weak and relatively defenseless occupied territories.

  16. Peres: We cannot exist without the United States
    10/22/10 http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=19239
    Israeli President Shimon Peres: "We cannot exist alone. For our existence we need the friendship of the United States of America. It doesn't sound easy, but this is the truth," he said. In a speech to Jewish leaders Thursday evening broadcast by Israel Army Radio, Peres urged the Israelis to try to meet US demands in order to be assured of their existence.

    Ensuring Israel's QME (Qualitative Military Edge)
    Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
    11/4/11 http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rm/176684.htm
    President Obama said: “the United States sees the historic changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as a moment of great challenge, but also a moment of opportunity for greater peace and security for the entire region, including the State of Israel.”…"A Strong Partnership Supports U.S. National Security. So let me first turn to why this relationship is so important to the United States…