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In sickeningly familiar news this week – Israel is once more bombing the Gaza Strip.
And the British media is strikingly, utterly silent.
In some of the worst violence since the horrific bombardment of 2014, in which, lest we forget, schools, hospitals and designated UN sanctuaries were destroyed in sustained aerial blitzes, the Israeli Air Force has once again taken to the skies to attack both the Southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis and Southern sections of Gaza City.
Supposedly, modern warfare conducted by ‘civilized’ states demands that restraint is shown as far as possible in order to minimize civilian casualties – anything else constitutes a war crime. The use of force is contingent on the proportionality of its implementation. Yet time and again this responsibility is disregarded by a state in possession of one of the most sophisticated air forces in the world against one that is denied its own statehood, let alone being able to resist air strikes with its own air force.
Granted, the violence is not yet on the same scale as that of two years ago, during which time it became next to impossible for the media to continue to turn a blind eye to the butchering of the Palestinians. Nevertheless, despite the difference in extent, this latest assault on Gaza is taking place against a backdrop of deafening silence from Western media, with a few noted exceptions.
According to Al Jazeera, a 53-year-old woman, Zeina al Omor, was killed in her Khan Yunis home by air strikes which also injured several other civilians.
Israeli activity on the border along the Southern Gaza Strip is attributable to the IDF’s ongoing search for tunnels into Israel, which, they allege, militants use to threaten Israel. Usually, incursions into Gaza are tolerated by Hamas, but this time, Israeli forces were attacked with mortar fire.
Firing on the Israel Defense Forces is clearly awful. Yet responding to mortar fire with air strikes is like being attacked at a distance with a gun and coming back in a tank. The pretext for a strike in Gaza City on Thursday was that the target was a goldsmith’s workshop, which also doubled as a weapons factory. Reactions of this sort though are imprecise, indiscriminate, and patently disproportionate to the original offence.
These latest actions are particularly resonant, given that we are following on from a good deal of controversy in which it was alleged by many across the neo-liberal spectrum that the Labour party – in particular the left of the party – is rife with deep-seated anti-Semitism (allegations which, it must be noted, swiftly died down after the conclusion of the spate of nationwide elections on Thursday). The very same establishment media that showed such pious concern for the rights to freedom and self-determination of the Israeli people appear totally unmoved by the fact that those they have been defending have acted once more with such impunity and brutality.
The double-standards displayed here are extraordinary, and yet unfortunately, are no surprise.
Ironically, there is an article on the Israeli Defence Force’s website titled: ‘We need to be an example of morality’. In the article, IAF Commander, Maj. General Amir Eshel, suggests that the military policy is to:
…educate our soldiers that when there is a threat it needs to be removed, but we are not hangmen. If killing isn’t necessary, we don’t kill. This is our morality and it is part of the profession. There is no separation.
The evidence, though, would suggest otherwise.
The disproportionate reaction of the Israelis is to be equalled only in the totally skewed accusations of anti-Semitism that have met anyone brave enough to voice just this inconsistency.
It appears that a ceasefire has now been agreed. How long it will last remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the blackout on coverage is an abject failure on the part of our media. And yet perhaps it suits. Could it be that reporting Israel’s crimes may accurately jeopardise its untouchable status as a pure and moral bastion of democracy, and in doing so, undermine the ability to portray its critics as anti-Semitic? Maybe the fear of the right-wing press is that objective reporting of Israel’s military activities could potentially forsake the go-to tool with which the left can be attacked?
And thus, mired in our prism of first-world politics, the horror of the forgotten Palestinians continues.