Netanyahu’s Support for Hamas Has Backfired

by | Oct 31, 2023

Netanyahu’s Support for Hamas Has Backfired

by | Oct 31, 2023

belgium eu israel diplomacy

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 11, 2017. (Credit: AP / Virginia Mayo)

Editor’s Note: This article was extended and updated on 11/10/23, including to reflect the latest tolls of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Intifada

On October 7th, a large group of armed Hamas fighters broke out of the Gaza Strip to launch an unprecedented attack – by air, land, and sea – against southern Israel. Thousands of rockets were launched, military bases as well as kibbutzim were targeted and briefly seized.

During the operation, dubbed Al-Aqsa Flood, over a thousand people were slaughtered, including hundreds of military personnel and innocent civilians. In order to secure concessions such as the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by the Israeli authorities, more than 200 prisoners including some soldiers were taken back to Gaza to be used as bargaining chips amid Israel’s then-impending relentless airstrikes.

Roots

What could be behind such violence?

Israel has occupied the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem since their victory against neighboring states in the Six-Day War of June 1967 – 56 years; longer than the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe. The so-called “Palestinian Authority” (PA) is trained and supported by Tel Aviv, London, and Washington, not the people. Essentially trustees in an Israeli prison, the PA is not a sovereign state of any kind. The people of Palestine live under foreign military occupation.

Gaza, on the other hand, is a concentration camp which measures only 25 miles in length and five miles in width, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Crammed inside the camp are 2.3 million Palestinians, including refugees from the initial ethnic cleansing campaigns at the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947–1948, along with their descendants.

If the PA are trustees in the minimum security prison of the West Bank, Hamas, the armed Islamist militia which rules the Strip, are the worst gang that took over the maximum security prison when the warden and his men retreated to the outer perimeter.

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a full blockade on Gaza from the air, land, and sea. Gaza is completely controlled by the Israeli military. For more than 15 years, food, potable water, electricity, medicine, building materials, etc. have been severely restricted by Tel Aviv. All the while, Palestinians besieged in the coastal enclave are routinely subjected to small as well as large-scale indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

This recent terrorist attack in Israel which saw so many civilians killed – including in crossfire with Israeli forces – was in a sense, a prison break led by Hamas.

This horrible attack was blatantly, if unintentionally, provoked by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and his ruling coalition full of extremist settlers and Jewish supremacists bent on the de jure annexation of the entire West Bank, or “Judea and Samaria” as they call it.

Killing the Peace Process

Beginning in 1979 at Camp David, Israel promised to begin the process to negotiate a sovereign state on the 22 percent left of Palestine after the war of 1947–1948 –  the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, occupied by Tel Aviv since 1967.

By 1988, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Leader Yasser Arafat, who headed the Fatah party, had recognized Israel within its 1967 borders. The Oslo Accords “peace process” began in 1993 and was supposed to implement this two-state reality.

It was a sham. All the while, even though the Fourth Geneva Convention says that it is illegal for one nation to transfer their own civilian populations into land seized in war, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 says that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jewish colonists or “settlers” have moved to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which they consider part of a future Greater Israel. This has effectively made a sovereign state there impossible.

The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who used to play along with the narrative of an eventual two-state solution, in the last decade officially canceled the illusion that he would ever let this occur.

Netanyahu said in 2015 that, “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel. Anyone who ignores this is sticking his head in the sand. The left does this time and time again. We are realistic and understand.”

Netanyahu was then asked specifically whether he meant that a Palestinian state would not be established if he were reelected prime minister. He answered, “Correct.”

Even though he temporarily relented on official annexation of the Jordan river valley, Netanyahu still vowed in 2020 that “Israel will retain security control on the entire area west of the Jordan River.” In other words, from the River to the Mediterranean Sea, Palestine will never be free.

Apartheid

This is why the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, joined by Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, finally came out in 2021–2022, after the 40-year illusion of “independence someday instead of freedom today” had finally crumbled, and officially declared that Israel was an “apartheid state.”

Former President Jimmy Carter warned that if Israel did not let the Palestinians go, they would be stuck in this apartheid corner. So did former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Even Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, later Donald Trump’s secretary of defense said the same.

If the whites of 1960s Jim Crow Mississippi had said, “we will not end segregation and our two-tiered ‘rule of law,’ but we will let northern Mississippi become an independent black nation someday instead,” but then they never did that, that would be where Israel-Palestine is right now.

Western liberals – regulated by the Israel lobby – have mostly just paid lip service to the two-state solution while Israel created “facts on the ground,” with the ever-expanding settlements relegating Palestinians to noncontiguous Bantustans cut off from each other by the massive separation wall and networks of checkpoints run by Israeli occupation forces.

Hamas, Israel’s Strategic Ally

There is no reason to think Hamas is secretly controlled by Israel, but their seemingly antithetical interests are in fact closely aligned and serve each other’s purposes. As Brian McGlinchey, Andrew Higgins, Richard Sale and others have exhaustively detailed, for decades, Israel has provided Hamas and its precursors with both direct and indirect financial support.

Originally borne out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the right-wing Islamist movement was seen by Israeli leadership as an instrument to undercut the dominant opposition to the occupation, Arafat’s secular leftist and nationalist PLO.

Beginning in the 1970s, Israel’s backing of Hamas and its predecessor, Mujama Al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Center, “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” a former senior CIA official told Sale.

According to U.S. intelligence officials speaking with Sale, “funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel.”

In the early 1980s, the Islamist movement began radicalizing. This was precipitated by the rise of the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah in opposition to the Israeli invasion and nearly two-decade occupation of southern Lebanon, as well as the overthrow of the Shah Reza Pahlavi, the CIA-installed dictator in Iran, and the subsequent founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

The group known today as Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, was officially founded in 1987 and flourished during the First Intifada, or violent uprising against the occupation in Palestine.

Despite the group’s refusal for many years to ever recognize Israel’s “right to exist,” along with the PLO dropping that maximalist demand themselves, Israeli aid to Hamas continued apace.

This is because, a U.S. official told Sale, “the thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the other groups, if they gained control, would refuse to have anything to do with the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place.” Indeed, Hamas condemned the PLO as traitors for going to the negotiating table with Tel Aviv in an attempt to work out a two-state solution.

As Higgins later wrote in the Wall Street Journal,

When it became clear in the early 1990s that Gaza’s Islamists had mutated from a religious group into a fighting force aimed at Israel – particularly after they turned to suicide bombings in 1994 – Israel cracked down with ferocious force. But each military assault only increased Hamas’s appeal to ordinary Palestinians.

Fatah also cracked down on Hamas during the 1990s over their tactics including suicide bombings, which led to further clashes and bad blood.

Formaldehyde

Following the Second Intifada, in which over 1,000 Israelis and 4,500 Palestinians were killed, Likud Party Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated a policy known as “disengagement” in the Gaza Strip. In the summer of 2005, Tel Aviv set about removing thousands of settlers and occupying forces.

The Israeli army was redeployed in the areas surrounding Gaza instead. On the surface, this was made to look like a concession, but Likud’s goal was to decisively kill the peace process and with it any hopes Palestinians had for a future state.

Sharon’s senior adviser, Dov Weissglass, bluntly told Haaretz almost two decades ago,

The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process … And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with … a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. …

The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians. The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians. …

We educated the world to understand that there is no one to talk to. And we received a no-one-to-talk-to certificate. That certificate says: (1) There is no one to talk to. (2) As long as there is no one to talk to, the geographic status quo remains intact. (3) The certificate will be revoked only when this-and-this happens — when Palestine becomes Finland. (4) See you then, and shalom.

The Gaza Bombshell

Hamas achieved a plurality victory against Fatah – by then led by Mahmoud Abbas in the wake of Arafat’s death – in the Palestinian territories’ 2006 parliamentary elections. But before a coalition government could be instituted based on the results, George W. Bush and his neocon retinue – displeased with the results of the democratic election they had encouraged – attempted a coup, supporting Fatah against Hamas.

As David Rose reported in Vanity Fair,

[This outlet] has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Muhammad Dahlan, Fatah’s long-time resident strongman in Gaza], and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power…

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

The Israelis have then used their control of the strip to justify the blockade and the rest of Tel Aviv’s illegal collective punishment policies.

Military Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin commented on June 13, 2007 that “Israel would be happy if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state.” He also dismissed Iran’s influence over Hamas. “As long as they don’t have a port,” it’s something Israel can handle, Yadlin remarked.

Collective Punishment

Ever since the siege was imposed, the fact that the Palestinians in Gaza voted for Hamas years ago is predictably trotted out to justify Israel’s wars against the Palestinians trapped in the enclave. Gaza has no air defense, army, navy, or air force to speak of, but thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed amid these canned hunts.

But half of the population in Gaza – approximately 1.15 million people – are children who were no more than toddlers if they had even been born when Hamas won in 2006. Even then, the Islamists only won a plurality of the votesnot a majority in any single district. The U.S.-Israeli-Egyptian-Fatah failed coup ended any power-sharing, there was never another election and popular sovereignty and collective guilt over bad opinions or votes are myths anyway.

Likud Talking About Supporting Hamas

As Israeli journalist Meron Rapaport and historian Adam Raz, among others, have extensively chronicled, this result of a divided and conquered Palestine, with Gaza under the control of Hamas terrorists, is exactly what Likud wanted:

Likud spokesman Jonatan Urich, one of Netanyahu’s media advisers, bragged that one of Netanyahu’s key successes was disconnecting Gaza from the West Bank, both politically and conceptually. “[Netanyahu] basically smashed the vision of the Palestinian state in these two places… some of the achievement is related to the Qatari money reaching Hamas each month.”

Netanyahu has previously dispatched high officials, such as Mossad chief Yosi Cohen, to Doha “[begging] the Qataris to keep funneling money into Hamas” as Avigdor Lieberman, the former defense minister put it.

At times, this money would enter the Strip in suitcases full of millions of dollars at a time. As Haaretz’s Amos Harel wrote back in November 2018,

The criticism suffered by [Netanyahu] over the weekend was earned fair and square. The photos of $15 million in cash from Qatar entering the Gaza Strip in suitcases cast a ridiculous light on his repeated claims of being tough on Hamas. …

In reality, Netanyahu is conducting indirect negotiations with Hamas (though he and his government religiously refuse to confirm this). The Qatari cash, which will help preserve Hamas’ hold on Gaza, could not have entered without his approval.

From 2012-2018, Doha provided more than $1 billion to Hamas, hundreds of millions per year, with Tel Aviv’s green light. Among other things, this money was used to fund education, healthcare, and aid – including through the UN, pay government salaries and purchase fuel.

Distel Atbaryan, former minister of information and current Likudnik member of the Knesset, defended the policy this way,

Mark my words – [Netanyahu] keeps Hamas on its feet so that the entire State of Israel won’t become the ‘Gaza envelope.’ … if Hamas collapses, [Abbas] is liable to control Gaza. If he will control it, voices from the left will arise advocating negotiations and a diplomatic settlement and a Palestinian state, including in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].

Later, she reiterated this point, “[I]f Hamas crumbles, [Abbas] may rule [Gaza]. If he rules it, voices on the left will encourage … a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria as well. … [T]his is the real reason Netanyahu doesn’t annihilate Hamas, everything else is bullshit.”

Gershon Hacohen, a major general in reserves as well as an associate of Netanyahu, said, “We need to tell the truth. Netanyahu’s strategy is to prevent the option of two states, so he is turning Hamas into his closest partner. Openly Hamas is an enemy. Covertly, it’s an ally.”

Hacohen, elaborated further on the strategy, stressing that instead of taking out Hamas, “[Netanyahu] prevented Abbas’ plot to establish a united Palestinian state. We need to take advantage of the situation of separation between Gaza and Ramallah. This is a top Israeli interest, and it is impossible to understand the campaign in Gaza without understanding this context.” Hacohen oversaw the “disengagement” policy in 2005.

That same year, former Prime Minister Barak, Netanyahu’s own former defense minister, presciently warned that Likud’s strategy could blowback onto Israeli citizens, particularly those living near the besieged Gaza Strip. “[Netanyahu’s] strategy is to keep Hamas alive and kicking… even at the price of abandoning the citizens [of the south] … in order to weaken the PA in Ramallah.”

Barak confirms that Netanyahu’s goal was keeping the south “on a constant low flame.” The purpose was to support Hamas to weaken the PA and avoid any sincere negotiations toward a future Palestinian state. “It’s easier with Hamas to explain to Israelis that there is no one to sit with and no one to talk to. If the PA strengthens … then there will be someone to talk to,” he said.

Also using an analogy about playing with fire, Prime Minister Netanyahu himself boasted to members of his party in the Knesset that he could reliably control the backdraft created by his strategy,

Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas… This is part of our strategy – to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank… It’s impossible to reach an agreement with them … Everyone knows this, but we control the height of the flames.

Bezalel Smotrich, leader of Israel’s Religious Zionist Party and the current Finance Minister was even more explicit. When asked by an interviewer about the danger of Hamas, Smotrich replied,

The PA is a liability and Hamas is an asset. On the international playing field in this game of delegitimization, think about for a second, the PA is a liability and Hamas is an asset. It’s a terrorist organization. Nobody will recognize it, nobody will give it status at the ICC [International Criminal Court] and nobody will let them push resolutions at the UN [causing us to] need an American veto. …

I’m not sure at all that given the current situation, given the current fact that the central playing field we’re playing in is international, Abu Mazen (Abbas) is costing us serious [PR or political] casualties and Hamas in such a situation would be an asset. I don’t think we need to be afraid of [Hamas].

Likud MK Galit Distel Atbaryan approvingly wrote: “We must say this honestly – Netanyahu wants Hamas on its feet, and he is ready to pay almost any incomprehensible price for this. Half the country is paralyzed, children and parents are suffering from post-trauma, homes are blown up, people are killed, a street cat holds a nuclear tiger by the balls.”

Yonatana Orich, who was a Likud campaign manager and an adviser to Netanyahu, agreed. “[Netanyahu] succeeded in disconnecting between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, and effectively shattered the vision of a Palestinian state in these two areas. Part of the achievement is linked to the Qatari money that comes to Hamas every month.”

Erez Tadmor, another Likud campaign adviser, wrote in support of the Prime Minister’s policy:

The preferred strategic reality for Israel is to maintain the split between Fatah and Hamas. The ideological fragmentation is inherent in the nature of the organizations. The geographic split is a consequence of PA rule in the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas coup in Gaza. This split between Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority and Hamas’s Gaza is optimal for Israel. This way we can hit Hamas in Gaza, and we are not required to retreat to the lines of Auschwitz due to the danger of a Hamas coup in [the West Bank].

There is a reality that is even better than just a geographical split between [West Bank]-Fatah and Gaza-Hamas: the situation where Fatah controls [the West Bank] from a position of weakness in which its dependence on Israel is increasing, and Hamas controls Gaza from a position of weakness and its ability to harm Israel is limited. … [T]his is exactly the situation we are in strategically in the Palestinian arena. The Palestinians are divided and weakened. Fatah is weak in the West, Hamas Weak in Gaza. Do you want better than this? Move to Tuscany, you will have a few years of peace until the barbarians arrive there too.

The only thing that the brawlers who want to run and conquer Gaza at the cost of hundreds of deaths would have achieved if they had managed to impose their position was the worsening of Israel’s strategic situation and not its improvement. You don’t even understand what the Machiavellian Netanyahu achieved.

An arrangement was made with Qatar, which began sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the Hamas leadership with Israeli approval. The insider told me that “Bibi was convinced that he would have more control over Hamas with the Qatari money — let them occasionally fire rockets into southern Israel and have access to jobs inside Israel — than he would with the Palestinian Authority. He took that risk.

This cavalier attitude was shared by commanders within Israel’s apartheid army who were admonished by their lookouts that there was unusual activity near the border prior to the October 7 attack. As the Jerusalem Post reported,

As questions remain about how Israel failed to thwart Hamas’s assault, IDF lookouts told N12 on Monday that they had repeatedly warned their commanders of unusual incidents along the border, but were ignored.

“A day before everything happened, I saw people with maps,” said one lookout to N12. “They were looking at the fence and pointing at it. I told everyone: ‘Listen, something is going to happen. I see them planning things.’ I noticed that something was different on the front. I even told the person next to me in jest: ‘Listen, they’re going to storm our post.’ It just looked different.”

The lookout added that despite her warnings, her commanders “discounted” her concerns, telling her “Hamas is just a bunch of punks, they won’t do anything.”

Such chutzpah.

The Netanyahu Doctrine

For decades the policies of the Arabian monarchs and neighboring Sunni Muslim states had been that they would not permanently normalize relations with Israel until the Palestinians finally got their independent state.

But President Donald Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner figured that the American people could afford the kings’ price. Bahrain got F-16s, UAE was promised F-35s, Sudan got their debts rolled over onto American taxpayers and Trump “recognized” Morocco’s theft of northern Western Sahara.

All of this was in exchange for their abandoning the Palestinians and recognizing Israel under the so-called “Abraham Accords.”

Manama even signed defense cooperation and security agreements with Tel Aviv and Washington because, after all, the Accords are a thinly veiled foundation for a regional military coalition led by the US and Israel eyeing Iran. They were in the middle of negotiating with Saudi Arabia when the current round of killing broke out.

Last month, Netanyahu even presented a map of “The New Middle East” to the UN General Assembly with Palestine, from the river to the sea, completely erased.

“There’s no question: the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” Netanyahu announced. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” He continued, emphasizing

[W]e must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states. … See, the Palestinians are only 2% of the Arab world. As long as they believe that the other 98% will remain in a war-like state with Israel, that larger mass, that larger Arab world could eventually choke, dissolve, destroy the Jewish state.

So when the Palestinians see that most of the Arab world has reconciled itself to the Jewish state, they too will be more likely to abandon the fantasy of destroying Israel and finally embrace a path of genuine peace with it.

By “destroying Israel,” of course Netanyahu just meant the Palestinians would have to give up their hope of ever getting their independent state or equal rights as citizens under Israeli sovereignty. Now that they know no one is coming to help them, they would finally just accept their utter defeat and permanent status as militarily occupied stateless and rights-less conquered people, he thought.

In March, Smotrich even proclaimed that there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people.”

The Donald Trump and Joe Biden administrations, along with Netanyahu, also believed the Palestinians could be erased. They envisioned a Middle East where Washington’s long-time Arab dictatorship vassals would all finally plant the Palestinians firmly under the bus, recognize Israel, and sign these phony peace deals in exchange for American arms  as well as other favors.

Provoked

But before Israel began its latest war on Gaza, recent polling exposed that as a result of Israeli massacres and war crimes committed against the Palestinians, the Abraham Accords had become increasingly unpopular among the populace in Bahrain and the UAE.

In July, with the support of the Joe Biden administration, Israel’s security forces invaded and bombed the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, killing a dozen people including five children. Israeli bulldozers tore up the camp’s roads, electricity, and water networks. 1,000 troops participated in the raid, along with Apache helicopters, drones, and 150 armored vehicles.

Another point of contention in the region is Netanyahu’s policies of setting records this year for settlement expansion and construction in illegal Jewish-only colonies, further eviscerating even the pretense of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli forces and settlers have repeatedly desecrated the Al-Aqsa Mosque this year, Islam’s third holiest site. During the holy month of Ramadan, worshipers within, including women and children, were viciously beaten. Members of Netanyahu’s cabinet have also encouraged attacks against Palestinian Christians, which have escalated substantially.

For Palestinians, prior to this month, this year was already one of the deadliest on record. Before the end of September, more than 220 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces, including over three dozen children. That figure included 187 people who were murdered in the occupied territories and another 37 killed – mostly amidst a smaller bombing campaign – in the Gaza Strip.

And then October 7 and its aftermath came.

The Netanyahu Doctrine was dead wrong. Peace in the region must be made with the Palestinians. But never again will any heads of state be foolish enough to believe Palestine and its people can be circumvented, erased or ignored.

The day after the October 7th attack, Israeli journalist Tal Schneider railed against the failure of the Netanyahu Doctrine policy in the Times Of Israel,

For years, the various governments led by [Netanyahu] took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – bringing [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group.

The idea was to prevent Abbas – or anyone else in the [PA’s] West Bank government – from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Thus, amid this bid to impair Abbas, Hamas was upgraded from a mere terror group to an organization with which Israel held indirect negotiations via Egypt, and one that was allowed to receive infusions of cash from abroad. …

One thing is clear: The concept of indirectly strengthening Hamas — while tolerating sporadic attacks and minor military operations every few years — went up in smoke Saturday.

Slaughtering ‘Human Animals’

Since the October 7th attack led by Hamas, Israel has pummeled Gaza indiscriminately with thousands of bombs killing more than 11,000 Palestinians, including over 3,000 women and 4,500 children. Concurrently, in the West Bank, over 180 Palestinians have been killed by settlers and Israeli occupation forces including 44 children.

On October 26, foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt along with Abraham Accords signatory states the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco published a joint statement condemning Israel’s collective punishment against the Palestinians in Gaza. The diplomats implored the UN Security Council to implement a ceasefire immediately, as now more than half of all residential units in the enclave are said to have been obliterated.

After 35 straight days of bombing, Mondoweiss reported,

  • Israel ramps up its attacks on Gaza hospitals, where thousands are seeking refuge.
  • 260 people killed in Gaza in span of 24 hours.
  • Several Gaza City hospitals are surrounded by Israeli forces and fear the worst.
  • Water, food, and electricity shortages put more lives at risk as medical facilities on the verge of full shutdown.
  • Amidst the high-scale devastation, Netanyahu tells Fox News, “we don’t seek to displace anyone.” [Per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1.58 million people — about 65% of Gaza’s population — have been internally displaced by the bombardment and ground invasion.]
  • Israel announces daily four-hour “tactical, localized” pauses in bombardments of Gaza, denounced by U.N. special rapporteur as “cynical and cruel.”
  • U.S. indicates concern for diplomatic impact of its support of Israel, as diplomatic cables warn the country is losing the Arab public “for a generation.”
  • Death toll rises in the West Bank.

The death toll of Palestinian civilians in Gaza may soon skyrocket, as Tel Aviv has cut off Gaza’s food, water, electricity, and medicine while increasingly targeting hospitals with airstrikes and ground attacks.

According to Al Jazeera, “198 medical staff have now been killed, and 87 ambulances damaged. 21 out of 35 hospitals are out of service in Gaza, and 51 out of 72 primary medical care facilities are out of operation,” as a result of the Israeli onslaught.

As the outlet detailed on November 10th,

Battles have intensified around several hospitals in northern Gaza, with some receiving direct hits and reports of casualties among patients and tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians sheltering at the facilities, as Israeli troops continue their advance.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health said on Friday that Israeli tanks have been closing in on at least four hospitals from all directions.

The head of Al-Shifa Hospital, Muhammad Abu Salmiya, told Al Jazeera, “This day was a day of war on hospitals.”

“The sick and wounded occupy all of the hospital’s corridors, and we cannot perform surgical operations,” Salmiya said.

“We cannot find a single bed to place victims on,” he added about the situation in Gaza’s largest medical facility. “We are taking difficult decisions between who to save and who to let die … as I speak to you I am standing in front of 100 dead bodies.”

The White House’s unconditional backing of this unprecedented Israeli mass murder and destruction campaign against Gaza threatens to drag Americans into a regional war with Hezbollah, Iran and their Resistance Axis allies including in Iraq and Syria, where U.S. forces illegally occupy a third of that war-torn country.

The destruction of Washington’s Global War on Terror and regime change wars of the last 20 years could be dwarfed by such a conflict.

To put this in perspective, the American government’s wars in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia during this century killed and caused the deaths of well over four million people.

Cease Fire!

Washington should immediately cut all of its illegal military aid and ties with Tel Aviv, as well as cease its disgraceful diplomatic and propaganda cover. American forces should not be in harm’s way to “deter” other actors from getting involved, nor to defend this merciless regime. The Israeli government, currently waging siege warfare against Gaza, slaughtering thousands of women and children, has declared the Strip is populated by “human animals.”

With Tel Aviv now waging its ground invasion, the American people must swiftly demand a lifting of the siege and a ceasefire.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

About Scott Horton and Connor Freeman

Scott Horton is director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of Antiwar.com, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast.

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