— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 21, 2014
While thousands of people turned out to protest against Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza, Palestinians experienced their bloodiest day yesterday.
Over 500 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its offensive, Operation Protective Edge. More than three thousand people have been wounded. Eighteen Israeli soldiers have died while fighting in combat. Two Israeli civilians have been reported killed as well.
Of the Palestinians killed, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in the Occupied Territories, 83 children have been killed.
On June 20, in what Palestinians were calling a massacre, sixty Palestinians were killed in Ash Shuja’iyeh in eastern Gaza City. Seventeen of those killed were children. Bodies were reportedly stacked in piles outside of the Al Shifa hospital.
The massacre prompted Al Shifa hospital administrator Dr. Hasan Khalas to declare, “The Israeli aggression against civilians should be stopped,” according to Mondoweiss.
Khalas added the “bloodshed and blood in Gaza’s streets” was the responsibility of the international community, “Because of the international decision to put a siege on Gaza, and this is a result of that. We should not continue to live under siege and just be killed [continuously].”
More than 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced, meaning they have fled their homes. The United Nations and Relief Work Agency (UNRWA) has put out a call for $60 million to address the constantly escalating humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry was on five cable news programs and, on a day which was the bloodiest for Palestinians so far, Kerry expressed no criticism of Israel. He issued no caution to Israel to stop killing children. He said what one would have expected a politician in Israel’s Knesset to have said during a television interview.
Told by George Stephanopoulos during “This Week” on ABC News that Palestinians called the morning’s operation a “massacre and a war crime,” Kerry reacted, “That’s rhetoric that we’ve heard many, many times. What they need to do is stop rocketing Israel and accept the ceasefire.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Candy Crowley asked if there was “any line” after which the US might think Israel “has gone too far.” She also asked if discussions had taken place on what “too far” might be.
Kerry summarized which officials he had contacted recently to talk about all this and then declared:
Israel is under siege by a terrorist organization that has seen fit to dig tunnels and come through those tunnels with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs, prepared to try to capture Israeli citizens and take them back to hold them hostage.
No country could sit by and not take steps to try to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way literally in the middle of a conversation both with the president and with me. While we were talking to the prime minister, sirens went off. The prime minister of Israel had to interrupt the conversation with the president of the United States to go to a shelter.
People can’t live that way. And Hamas needs to understand, we are supporting the Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire. We will work for a fair cease-fire, and we will work afterwards, as we have shown our willingness, to try to deal with the underlying issues,
But they must step up and show a level of reasonableness, and they need to accept the offer of a cease-fire. And then we will certainly discuss all of the issues relevant to the underlying crisis. No country has indicated a greater willingness to do that, and no president’s been more willing to put himself on the line in recent time to do that than President Obama. [emphasis added]
This is pure Israeli propaganda. It is not Israel that has been “under siege” but Gaza. Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade.
Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said in April, “The first thing of course you see of Gaza is the fence around it; a reminder of the blockade, which as my predecessor pointed out recently, has lasted as long as some of the most infamous sieges of contemporary history, such as the siege of Leningrad. It amounts to an illegal collective punishment and I join UN officials and world leaders in calling for it to end.”
He noted that 80,000 refugees were receiving assistance in 2000. Now, the agency regularly assisted 800,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip. (This was before Israel’s assault so imagine how much worse the crisis is now.)
Although the CBS News correspondent covering Gaza would go on to mention casualties in Gaza, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer ignored those deaths and announced, “In the other major segment of the horrendous events that are unfolding this morning, Israel’s ground invasion into the Gaza Strip is more intense than ever, and now there are new reports of Israeli casualties.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also on ABC News and CNN’s major morning news programs. No Palestinian officials appeared on the programs.
On Sunday, there were major demonstrations in support of Palestinians held throughout the world. In Chicago, nearly 7,000 people came out into the streets to protest.
Several hundred in Los Angeles marched to the Israeli consulate.
It was estimated that close to 15,000 people may have participated in a demonstration in London.
People in France also came out to protest in multiple cities, even though protests were banned by the French government. The ban ultimately led to a police crackdown and violence.
Around 5,000 demonstrated in Chile, a country which suspended free trade talks with Israel after it launched its latest military offensive.
Israel’s military invasion into Gaza, particularly the horrific images of the bodies of dead children that are surfacing, is fueling the exponential growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli military occupation.