Gaza: Trump grants Israel a licence to kill

Gaza: Trump grants Israel a licence to kill
Comment: US silence over the latest Palestinian deaths can be read in no other way than a green light for Israel's violent acts of collective punishment, writes CJ Werleman.
5 min read
09 Apr, 2018
Trump White House didn't offer one word of condemnation of Israeli aggression [Anadolu]

Last week, the White House issued a statement warning Gaza demonstrators to stay clear of the perimeter fence that essentially serves as a prison wall for two million inhabitants of the Palestinian enclave.

In other words, the Trump administration has made it abundantly clear it holds the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence and terrorism responsible for their own deaths and injuries.

Consider that the Trump White House didn't offer a solitary word of condemnation against Israel's choice to shoot unarmed and caged Palestinians inside the Palestinian territory on 30 March and 6 April, which left 29 Palestinians dead and hundreds more seriously wounded, and even as the world looked on as Israeli snipers picked off innocent civilians as if they were fish in the proverbial barrel.  

In times past, when Israel has systematically slaughtered civilians in Gaza, like it did mercilessly in 2007 and 2014, and periodically since and in between, the White House could be relied upon to offer at least a feeble plea upon Israel to demonstrate "restraint".

Though even this has not always been the case. For instance, when Israel laid a medieval-style siege on Gaza in 2014, killing 2,200 Palestinians, the best President Obama offered was an urging of both sides to show restraint, saying, "All parties must protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not vengeance and retribution."

The United States alone has the power to influence Israeli actions

But at least that was something, no matter how pathetically insipid, right?

The Trump administration's silence on Israel's latest round of terrorism against the Palestinian people, however, can be read by the Israeli government in no other way than as a green light to carry out whatever violent acts of collective punishment it deems best, even if that includes shooting boys as they kneel in prayer, or girls as they fly a kite. Israel can be sure the US has its back, ready and willing to blame the victim when called upon.

Soon after the White House put out its statement warning Palestinians to stay away from the Gaza perimeter fence, Israel had clearly received the message, acting as though it had been given a US licence to kill any Palestinian that inadvertently walks through its crosshairs, killing another two Palestinian protesters, injuring dozens others, including a half-dozen journalists on Friday.

"An attempt to approach or cross the green-line fence by itself certainly does not amount to a threat to life or serious injury that would justify the use of live ammunition," reminds the United Nations' human rights chief Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said that Israel, as an occupying power, must uphold the rights of Palestinians to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, but the pleas of a international NGO and an agency responsible for implementing some form of global governance will fall on deaf Israeli ears.

It's the United States alone that has the power to influence Israeli actions, good, bad, or otherwise.

To that end, the refusal of the Trump administration to condemn Israel's unlawful and immoral use of violence against peaceful Palestinian protesters is matched by a US Congress that behaves in a way indicative of being under some kind of Israel Lobby demanded gag order.

Of the 535 US congressional members, only two 
condemned Israel's shooting of nearly 1,000 protesters last Friday.

It's no wonder then that Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party, appeared on an Israeli television network to declare, "All 30,000 [unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza] are legitimate targets."

A number of former Israeli soldiers have come forward, however, to illustrate the brutal intent of the Israeli occupation. Shai Eluk served as a medic among a team of Israeli snipers, and in a recent op-ed described how his team was told to open fire at Palestinian protesters:

"This order, which never explained exactly how a soldier is meant to identify, isolate, and shoot a 'main inciter' out of tens of thousands of demonstrators disturbed me then. It continued to disturb me this past weekend, after IDF snipers opened fire on Palestinian marchers at the Gaza border.

"'How can opening fire at a crowd of people be a legal order?' I asked my deputy company commander six years ago. I have yet to receive an answer."

Of course, let's also not lose sight of why Palestinians in Gaza are protesting in the first place.

They're protesting a relentless Israeli blockade and siege that promises to crush their lives and rob them of their futures. The level of human misery and suffering inside what has been described as the "world's largest concentration camp" or "open air prison" is almost indescribable.

When I spoke with Dr Basem Naim, the former Palestinian minister for health and resident of Gaza, I referred him to a UN report that forewarned that Israel's medieval-like blockade promises to make the territory "uninhabitable" by 2020.

Of the 535 US congressional members, only two condemned Israel's shooting

"What do they [UN] mean? It's uninhabitable here now," Naim told me. "The situation today is catastrophic."

He explained how Israel's intentional cutting of Gaza's electricity supply, as another form of collective punishment, is having dire consequences on the entire economy and health sector.

Read more: Israel strikes Gaza as 31st #GreatReturnMarch victim named

"The typical Palestinian gets only three to five hours of electricity each day," he said. "You can't pump water to apartments that are above ground level. You can't pump sewage, which is why more than 95 percent of Gaza's drinking water is undrinkable."

In addition to of all this, the unemployment rate in Gaza is now the highest in the world, and the economy, which is choked by a simultaneous Israeli and Egyptian blockade, continues to rapidly deteriorate.

For these basic demands, they're being shot and killed and with the blessing of the United States

This is what Palestinians are protesting against. They demand only what everyone else needs and wants: Freedom of movement, and freedom from want and fear.

But for these basic demands, they're being shot and killed and with the blessing of the United States.

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.