Today marks five years since the beginning of Israel’s 22-day, full-scale military assault against the civilian population of Gaza, dubbed “Operation Cast Lead”. It lasted from December 27, 2008 until January 18, 2009, resulting in nearly 1,400 Palestinian deaths, mostly civilians, and the wanton destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.
Here are articles I wrote about this massacre at the time:
“Americans Should Act to End Violence Against Gaza” (A version of this piece was published in a local newspaper of my hometown.)
It was for my coverage of the U.S. role in Israel’s assault on Gaza that I received the Project Censored 2010 Award. Here is the update on the situation that I wrote for the accompanying Project Censored book:
On the day the US Senate passed S.RES.10, “reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas” (January 8, 2009), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a statement demanding to be allowed to assist those in need of medical attention because the Israeli military had blocked access to wounded Palestinians, a war crime under international law. Also that same day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement condemning the Israeli Defense Force for firing on a UN aid convoy delivering humanitarian goods to the desperate people of Gaza, another war crime, as well as the killing of two staff members of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in a separate incident.
The next day, the House passed its own version of the resolution, H.RES.34, as UNRWA announced that it had had to halt its humanitarian efforts because of numerous incidents in which its staff, convoys, and installations had come under attack by Israeli forces.
The Senate resolution was reported by foreign media agencies. The Jerusalem Post had a story on it, as did Reuters. In the US, it was reported by the Jewish daily Forward and mentioned in alternative media sources by Stephen Zunes, Robert Naiman, and several others. It was first brought to my attention by Foreign Policy in Focus (http://www.fpif.org), and the text was available on the AIPAC website. But to my knowledge it was not reported in the mainstream media.
It’s hardly a secret that the US has a “special relationship” with Israel, but the full extent of US support for Israeli crimes is a matter that is met with absolute silence by the mainstream media, and Congressional support for Israel’s aggression and war crimes against the people of Gaza was no exception. When reported, the mainstream media employs euphemisms or parrots the official US government line, such as that settlements are an “obstacle to peace” rather than “illegal.”
The US supports Israel financially, with upwards of $3 billion annually. This money is given with little to no oversight, but even if it is not used to directly fund Israel’s illegal settlements and occupation, it allows Israel to free up other funds and divert them for that purpose.
The US supports Israel militarily. In its assault on Gaza, for instance, Israel employed US-made F-16 jets and Apache helicopter gunships. U.S-made bombs were dropped on Gaza during twenty-two days of violence, resulting in over 1,300 Palestinian deaths, nearly a third of whom were children, among other civilian victims.
The US also supports Israel diplomatically. For instance, the US delayed passage of a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire during the assault on Gaza, according to foreign diplomats.
President Obama has issued strong words in support of Palestinian statehood and against the Israeli settlements. It’s up to the American people, though, to put pressure on the US government to ensure that the rhetoric is followed up with action, such as an end to such financial, military, and diplomatic support for Israeli crimes.
This is among the reasons why it’s so important that stories like the US Congressional endorsement for Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” against Gaza be made known to the public.