Saturday, August 08, 2020

Israel‘s "right to defend itself" drowns out humanitarian concern for Gaza

By Lynda Franken - July 20, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Operation Protective Edge]

History repeats itself: photo of bombing on Gaza in 2012


As the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza enters its third day, international actors have expressed concern over the escalating situation. An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was held on Friday in which Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour called on the members of the Security Council to speak up against the “systematic human rights violations (that) are being committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.” His appeal was supported by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan who  accused  Israel of “waging terrorism” when addressing reporters Friday evening. However, most international actors have refrained from explicitly taking sides.

At the Security Council meeting, Mansour appealed for the adoption of a resolution that condemns the Israeli aggression towards Palestinian civilians in Gaza. He also called for an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the protection for the Palestinian people. Mansour said that his government would turn to “the judicial bodies of the United Nations and the international system” if his appeals were not met, aiming at a possible turn to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

On Friday, Erdogan also criticized supporting an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. He criticized the Sisi administration for attempting to leave Hamas out of further ceasefire negotiations. Following earlier critiques and ongoing demonstrations at Israeli embassies in Ankara and Istanbul, Israel decided to pull out some of its diplomatic staff Friday.

Once Israel’s main ally in the Middle East, Turkey has gone cold in its relationship to Israel in 201o when the Israeli navy boarded a flotilla intended to bring aid to Gaza from Turkey. During the operation, nine Turks died. 

Israeli Ambassador to the UN argued at the meeting that “there is no country in the world […] that would tolerate such an assault on the citizens. Israel should not be expected to either,” referring to the ongoing firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

The United States’ support for Israel’s offensive on the besieged enclave has not budged.

During a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Friday, President Obama “reaffirmed (his) strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. No nation should accept rockets being fired into its border, or tunneling into its territory.”

Obama also reports having warned Netanyahu about the “risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.”

The US Senate had approved $600 million in military aid for Israel earlier this week as part of the annual US military budget. $351 million of the funds are to be spent on Iron Dome.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel also acknowledged the Israeli right to self-defense, when asked about her concerns about the growing amount of civilian casualties and the recent ground invasion. She legitimized this right by arguing “Hamas has weapons of completely new quality”.

Both the UN and the European Commission expressed their concern about bloodshed in the Gaza strip and emphasized the Israeli right to protect itself. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman stated that “the UN is alarmed by (the) heavy Israeli response” and called the death toll among Gazan civilians “appalling."  UNRWA added alarming numbers to the UN statement, estimating that already over 47,000 refugees from Gaza take shelter in their facilities" and is continuing to grow.


The death toll in the Gaza Strip topped 400 this morning, with civilians bearing the brunt of the loss. Thousands have fled east Gaza city, which has been bombarded with constant shelling since late last night. Electricity and water the area has also been cut. While the Israeli military asserts Hamas uses the area to fire rockets at Israel, humanitarian groups such as the Red Cross have decried the indiscriminate violence in the area, where medical staff and reports, alike, have been shot dead by Israeli fire.

Nonetheless, a Hamas spokesperson argued that the organization is  “fully prepared for a long lasting battle” whereas Netanyahu stated on Friday that he was to “prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation”.

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