On Saturday, President Biden talked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to de-escalate Israel’s bombing runs over Gaza and Hamas’s rocket fire into Israel.
The New York Times reported that by Saturday night, Biden’s appeal showed no sign of success, and the fighting has “taken on a rare complexity because of its spread across the entirety of Israel and the occupied territories.”
The paper reported a surge in violence in cities resulting in riots and assaults. A video that emerged on social media showed dozens of Jewish men in Bat Yam taking turns beating a man who appeared to be unconscious. In another town, Arabs beat a Jewish man with sticks and rocks and left him in critical condition. Clashes between Arab and Jewish neighbors have not broken out in such a manner in decades.
Tension also escalated in Jerusalem, when, on 21 April, several hundred members of the Jewish group Lehava marched through central Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs.”
A plan by Israel to evict Palestinians from homes in Sheikh Jarrah has also been a major source of tension. (See our 25 August 2020 article “ISRAEL CONTINUES PALESTINIAN PURGE.”)
How it Started
As reported in this Sunday’s New York Times, on 13 April – 27 days before Hamas fired a rocket into Israel – an Israeli police squad stormed the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, pushing parishioners aside and cutting cables to the loudspeakers that were broadcasting prayers.
The reason the troops cut the cable on this first day of the Muslim holy month Ramadan was so the sermon wouldn’t interfere with a speech that was going to be delivered at the Western Wall by the Israeli president to honor those who died on Memorial Day... which was being celebrated this same day.
The Times wrote that “the police raid on the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, was one of several actions that led, less than a month later, to the sudden resumption of war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group.”
Note: Presstitutes and politicians use the term “militants” to deride any group that fights against invaders of their country or opposes their dictates. For example, those who fight against U.S. occupation, destruction, and mass murder of millions of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq are labeled “militants.”
The Times quoted Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who said, “This was the turning point,” and that the storming of the mosque “would cause the situation to deteriorate.”
And deteriorate it did.
The Times wrote:
“It was the outgrowth of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and decades more of discrimination against Arabs within the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Parliament and former chairman of the World Zionist Organization.
‘All the enriched uranium was already in place,’ he said. ‘But you needed a trigger. And the trigger was the Aqsa Mosque.’”
On Sunday, the Israeli military said more than 50 warplanes conducted a 20-minute attack on the Gaza Strip. Before the bombing, over 200 Palestinians were killed, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1,305 injured, according to Hamas.
Israel’s government reports that ten Israelis have been killed, including two children.
In last week’s Trends Journal article, “ISRAELI TROOPS STORM MOSQUE, BOMB GAZA,” we reported that about 1,000 Israeli security forces stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, injuring more than 300 Palestinians. Israeli police said the raid was in response to Palestinians who threw stones and launched fireworks during an earlier demonstration.
The troops reportedly locked worshippers inside the mosque and prevented them from seeking medical help.
The Times reported that as of Saturday night, at least 145 people in Gaza have been killed in the conflict, including many children, compared to ten Israeli residents and two soldiers.
The paper said Hamas launched more than 2,800 missiles, of which 90 percent were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile shield, which was partially funded by the U.S. Israel said it fired 670 missiles into Gaza on Saturday night alone.
“You know, and I know: No country would tolerate this,” Netanyahu said after the phone call with President Biden. “Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks, and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored.”
As we have long been reporting in the Trends Journal, “When all else fails, they take you to war.”
Netanyahu, who was about to be unseated, has been given a political lifeline during the latest clash with Hamas. The FT reported he has “reasserted himself as ‘Mr. Security.’”
As Foreign Policy reported:
“But he now appears to have neutralized the political threat, thanks in part to the escalation with the Palestinians—which has stoked nationalist passions and made it more difficult for the opposition parties to come together.”
Yair Lapid, the chairman of the Yesh Atid party, was seen to have a legitimate shot at forming a coalition government after reports said Mansour Abbas, the leader of the United Arab List, planned to throw his support behind Lapid’s centrist party. The Times reported the clash broke out just as Arabs in the country “seemed on the brink of unprecedented political power.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the “most important thing that we can do right now is exactly what we’re doing, which is to be engaged across the board, pushing on de-escalation.”
Blinken did not indicate how he hoped to ease tensions in the region, the FT reported.
Preside Biden repeated the Washington line that Israel has the right to defend itself. But now, for the first time, the administration is facing a backlash from Congress who says Palestinians also have the right to defend themselves.
There was a video that went viral showing Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, who was asked by a reporter if Palestinians have the same right – in the view of the administration – to defend themselves. (The question was asked after reports stated 20 Palestinians were killed in airstrikes.) Price replied,
“This is a very fluid situation. I would hesitate to comment on operations beyond the rocket fire that is clearly targeting innocent civilians in Israel. So I would hesitate to speak to specific operations that have just occurred, but the broader principle of self-defense is something we stand by on behalf of Israel and every other country.”
The reporter followed up the question: “But the Israelis killed 13 people just now, including maybe five or six children. Do you condemn that? Do you condemn the killing of children?”
Price appeared to get tense and said that report was just emerging and there was no independent confirmation. He said he is “very hesitant to get into reports that are just emerging.”
The Biden administration has been criticized by fellow Democrats over its lukewarm response to the crisis unfolding.
“This is not a moment for tepid statements,” Sen. Christopher Van Hollen said on Twitter.
Rep. Brad Sherman blamed Hamas for attempting to kill as many Israelis as possible in airstrikes. Rep. Lee Zeldin said the Biden administration needs to get firmer in its support of Israel “not just in words, but also in its actions.”
Kill the Press
Israel faced criticism over the bombing of a 13-story office/apartment building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press bureau and Al Jazeera.
The Israeli military called the building’s owner to inform him that the building was going to be razed, and he had an hour to get everyone out. The owner pleaded with the military to spare the building, but military officials refused, saying there was militant infrastructure inside the building.
The building was destroyed. The AP called the attack an “incredibly disturbing development.”
“We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were inside the building and thankfully we were able to evacuate them in time.”
Heba Akila, a journalist for Al Jazeera who had been inside the tower, told The Times, “This is clearly to silence the truth and the voices of journalists.”
TRENDPOST: Israel justified the bombing of the building (which they gave occupants just one hour to evacuate, thus most belongings were destroyed) because Hamas was running an operation in the building.
At a press conference yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked if the U.S. had been provided evidence by Israeli intelligence for justification of the strike.
“I have not seen any information provided,” he said, noting that shortly after the building was bombed on Saturday, “we did request additional details regarding the justification for it.”
But, today, Blinken said, “It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and it’s not something I can comment on.”
Mr. Blinken’s statement that he has an “understanding that we’ve received some further information” indicates he is not sure and has not reviewed it. And why, as the U.S. Secretary of State, won’t he comment on it? What is the big secret?
Dr. Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network, called the attack a deliberate act to prevent journalists from reporting inside Gaza. He said,
“We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and targeting of journalists, and we demand an immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and the media institutions.”
Sally Buzbee, the AP’s top editor, said Israel has provided no evidence to justify the bombing and added that the AP wants an independent investigation as to why Israel blew up the building.
The International Criminal Court was asked by Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders to investigate if Israel’s bombing of the building housing the media organizations was a war crime.
Al Jazeera reported that Israeli rockets hit a refugee camp, killing at least ten Palestinians, including eight children.
The Times reported that Arab countries, including those that have normalized relations, have criticized Israel over its response. Officials from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco have criticized Israel’s aggression.
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist, told the Wall Street Journal that Israel is “putting its friends and partners, including the U.A.E., in a difficult situation, an awkward position.”
“I think this will take us back to square zero,” he said.
Ofir Winter, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the WSJ there are some “strong fundamentals” to these relationships.
“But the challenge is how Arab countries will explain the issue to their people,” he said.
In our 4 May article, “ISRAEL ACCUSED OF APARTHEID BY HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,” we reported that Israel has been accused by Human Rights Watch of operating apartheid-like conditions in its treatment of Palestinians both within the country and occupied areas. While not comparing Israel to apartheid-era South Africa, Human Rights Watch said according to standards imposed by the international community, when one racial group dominates over another via inhumane acts of oppression, that, too, is apartheid.
Some 20 percent of Israel’s population are Arabs with full citizenship, a number of which have become lawmakers and other civil servants. But as we have been reporting, civil rights advocates have criticized discriminatory laws, including the 2018 “nation-state law,” which declares that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.”
It established Hebrew as Israel’s official language while downgrading Arabic to a “special status.”
On the stealing of Palestinian land, which violates international law, Israel's nation-state law declares that the “Jewish settlement as a national value,” and it “will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
Diana Buttu, a Palestinian political analyst, told The Times, “The way that we are treated is as though we shouldn’t be here. We are the people who they mistakenly did not ethnically cleanse from this place.”
This past Saturday, one of America's star politicians who have been criticizing Israeli actions, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted, “Apartheid states aren’t democracies.” The tweet garnered over 275,000 likes.
TREND FORECAST: The massive bombings and destruction of Gaza will dramatically decrease support for the Israeli government. There will be growing pro-Palestinian movements supported by anti-war and civil rights groups across the globe... including Black Lives Matter.
We have reported that since November 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu has been under the pressure of a criminal indictment on charges of fraud and bribery... and after holding its fourth national election in less than two years, he has again failed to put together a winning coalition. Thus, when all else fails, “Mr. Security” would start a new war to retain his premiership and do what he could to avoid being brought to trial.
Indeed, on Sunday, The New York Times wrote, “The crisis came as the Israeli government was struggling for its survival.”
TREND FORECAST: Should the war expand beyond Israel/Palestine and into the Middle East, it will drive up Brent Crude, which is just shy of $70 per barrel. With inflation pressures already driving equity markets down, a sharp spike in oil into the $80-$90 price range will push equities lower and push the world further into the “Greatest Depression.”
This, in turn, will accelerate anti-Israel sentiments and provoke anti-Semitic actions.
TRENDPOST: As a result of Israel’s bombing and missile strikes of the besieged Gaza Strip, the United Nations reports more than 38,000 Palestinians have been displaced and are seeking shelter. At least 2,500 homes have been destroyed by the Israeli bombardment that is now going into its second week.
As for the U.N., the United States blocked three U.N. resolutions that would have condemned Israel’s military response and called for a ceasefire.
Washington's refusal to back the resolution was applauded by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who tweeted:
“My sincere thanks to the U.S. Administration and in particular to @SecDef. Lloyd Austin, with whom I spoke this week, for rightly preventing the unjust U.N. Security Council statement criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza.”
As reported by Al Jazeera, the High Council of Human Rights of Iran wrote to the U.N. Secretary-General to take action on “genocidal acts,” “racial cleansing” and for the U.N. to acknowledge that Israel is committing “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
They also called on the U.N. to urgently convene an emergency session of the General Assembly to address the issue.
Al Jazeera quoted Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al Saud, who condemned “flagrant violations” of Palestinian rights and called on the international community to take immediate action to stop the Israeli air raids.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was quoted telling the international community to take a "strong and deterring response" against Israel and that the Muslim world must unite on the Palestinian issue.
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