Feckless policy

L Michael Hager
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

The news from Gaza is grim. Palestinians from northern Gaza have been removed by the IDF from their homes–first to Deir al-Balah and then to Khan Younis. More than half the Strip’s population is now sheltering in Rafah near the border with Egypt. Meanwhile, the IDF has occupied the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, one of Gaza’s last functioning hospitals, forcing most of the hospital’s staff, patients, and refugees southward toward Rafah.

The conditions in Rafah are described as miserable. Families seek shelter in makeshift tents that are unable to withstand cold rains. People scramble to find clean water, food, and fuel. Some families resort to eating grass and drinking polluted water. Without proper sanitation and medicines, disease is rampant. Still, there is no refuge from continued bombings.

While UN agencies and most nations (except the US) call for a ceasefire, release of the hostages, and a dramatic increase in humanitarian assistance, Netanyahu remains determined to continue his scorched earth attacks. He has broken off hostage negotiations and now threatens to launch an imminent ground invasion on Rafah. With nowhere to go, the Gazans are “terrified.”

As the Palestinian death toll reaches 29,000, worldwide protests against Netanyahu and Biden grow larger and louder. Yet Netanyahu’s position is firm: no ceasefire, no more hostage negotiations, no two-state solution, and no retreat from his Rafah invasion plan. So, where does the US President stand? In his speech of October 10, he expressed his outrage for Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel three days earlier and his sympathy to the victims’ families. He went on to recognize Israel’s right to defend itself. He said: “We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.”

After Netanyahu declared war on Hamas, his defense minister vowed to wipe the militants “off the face of the earth.” President Biden reacted by moving US military assets to the Eastern Mediterranean and bolstering the presence of US fighter aircraft. Although professing not to want a wider war, his ongoing strikes on the Houthis in Yemen and on Iran proxies in Iraq and Syria have spoken otherwise. He has delivered more arms aid to Israel and wants another $14.5 billion for the IDF.

Refusing to heed worldwide appeals for a ceasefire, Biden and Blinken content themselves with sporadic requests that Netanyahu limit civilian casualties. Each time the Israelis rebuff or ignore such entreaties.

Biden recently termed Israeli military operations “over the top.” Like his frequent pleas that Israel obey international humanitarian law, the President’s characterization was too weak and too late. Moreover, his actions have spoken louder than his words. If he were serious about civilian casualties, why would he want to send Israel more billions for weapons to be used against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank? Why would he oppose a ceasefire? Both Netanyahu and Biden have deplored the ICJ decision of January 26 that the State of Israel “cease forthwith” prohibited acts under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Excerpted: ‘Feckless and Complicit: Biden and the Gaza Genocide’. Courtesy: