U.S. role in creating Mideast disaster becomes clearer by the day
Israeli military and security forces target Palestinians in East Jerusalem at Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. | AP

Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged continued U.S. support to Israel Thursday even as its military devastated the Gaza Strip with air strikes and prepared for a possible ground invasion.

As Palestinian civilians in Gaza search desperately for a piece of bread to feed their hungry children, Israel, with the full backing of the U.S., has declared that it will allow nothing into Gaza: no water, no bread, no fuel, no electricity, and, as far as possible, no internet or communications to the outside world.

Going further on Friday, the Israeli military ordered 1.1 million Palestinians—almost half of Gaza’s population—to leave the northern part of the besieged territory and head to the south before its tanks and troops come storming in.

The evacuation order is widely being seen among Palestinians as a prelude to permanently expelling people from their homes—a continuation of Israeli state policies of the last 75 years.

Israeli military officials gave civilians 24 hours to get out—or else. The United Nations is warning that sending so many people fleeing en masse will produce an even bigger calamity. If such an exodus happens, it would mean cramming Gaza’s entire population into the 25-mile-long southern part of the strip, which is also the continuing target of Israeli bombs.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said such an evacuation is impossible without “devastating humanitarian consequences.” He pleaded with Israel to reverse the threat, saying that it will “transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

Get out – or else: Palestinians flee after Israeli airstrikes on the Rafah refugee camp on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. The Israeli military has now ordered 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza before a ground invasion. | AP

Get out—or else

“Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel,” Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza told the press. “The only concern now is just if you’ll make it, if you’re going to live.”

After Blinken’s remarks, an array of worldwide aid groups warned things were already getting worse as Israel halted deliveries of vital supplies as part of an attempt to bomb, entrap, and starve the population of Gaza. The war has so far claimed at least 2,800 lives on both sides, including 260 Palestinian children.

“Not a single electricity switch will be flipped on, not a single faucet will be turned on, and not a single fuel truck will enter,” Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz declared on social media Thursday.

Meanwhile, Israel already started massing troops and tanks on the borders of Gaza as it prepares to top off its non-stop bombing raids with the threatened full-scale ground invasion.

The British socialist newspaper Morning Star reports that Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombers in Gaza are running through streets already reduced to ash, carrying their belongings, and looking for a safe place to shelter.

The number of people who fled their homes reached 340,000 by Wednesday night—roughly 15% of Gaza’s population. In the wake of Israel’s warning, even more are now on the move.

Many crowded into U.N.-run schools, which have also been bombed by Israeli warplanes. Some 650,000 are said by the U.N. to be already without any water. There are also reports that newborns on incubators or oxygen are in imminent danger of death.

The U.N. said it cannot evacuate the schools that have become shelters, and the Gaza Health Ministry announced it was impossible to empty its facilities in northern Gaza. “We cannot evacuate hospitals and leave the wounded and sick to die,” spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said Friday.

When reporters questioned Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari whether Israel would protect hospitals, U.N. shelters, and other civilian locations, he responded dismissively, “It’s a war zone.”

No mention of a ceasefire

Giving full-throated backing to Israel’s plans to widen the war, U.S. officials pledged unending military aid.

“You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourselves, but as long as America exists, you will never have to,” Blinken said after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. “We will always be there by your side.”

Blinken compared the brutal Hamas attack on Israel last weekend to the 9/11 attacks in the United States. He failed to mention that Palestinians, at the hands of Israel and with the support of the U.S., have endured attacks like that on a continual basis for decades.

The bodies of Israeli victims of the Hamas weekend attack are gathered for identification at an Israeli military base, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. | AP

The “war on terror” unleashed by President George W. Bush after 9/11 still continues in Yemen, parts of West Africa, and other regions. Its victims are now numbered in the millions, and it has brought destruction around much of the world.

Statements over the last few days by President Joe Biden, Blinken, and John Kirby, the head of National Security for Biden, raise serious concerns that, rather than push for peace, the U.S will continue the policies that have created the current disaster in the Middle East.

There have been no calls from any U.S. national leaders to support the U.N. resolution demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Instead, they have all said they understand Israel’s need to execute the war it is mounting in Gaza.

Some former U.S. and NATO generals are even implying, if not actually saying, that Israel or the U.S. may have to be ready to fight Iran as the war against Hamas expands. They cite unproven allegations that Iran’s leaders conspired with Hamas to launch the raids against Israel.

Attacking Iran would almost certainly spark a wider war, plunging the Middle East and beyond into chaos.

Sadly, the statements by U.S. officials over the last few days confirm that a major cause of the conflagration now underway is persistent U.S. ignoring of the needs of the Palestinian people.

The U.S. has backed policies that offer the Palestinians nothing in terms of fighting their oppression. Worse yet, U.S. policy is to block or sanction anyone who does want to offer support to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for national liberation.

First, U.S. officials have either said nothing about or have actually supported the collective punishment being visited upon the Palestinian people in Gaza for the attacks by Hamas fundamentalists. The horror inflicted today by Israel on Gaza is actually just a stepped-up version of the horror its military has inflicted, with U.S. support, on the Palestinians for many decades.

Blinken and Kirby spoke eloquently about the horror of a baby being killed brutally by Hamas. Shockingly, however, Kirby said the children dying and injured by Israeli bombs in Gaza can’t be equated with the killing of children by Hamas.

The Hamas militants, he said, were out to kill civilians, while the Israelis intended to crush Hamas and dead Palestinian children were collateral to that goal.

While minimizing the deaths of Palestinian children in comparison to Israeli children, Kirby was unable to utter a word in favor of a ceasefire to end the killing of children and all other civilians on both sides.

War is peace?

Kirby assured the press Thursday that Biden would appear on television frequently to update the nation and the world on his efforts to defend Israel.

Those updates will include, he said, reports on the new weapons that will be shipped to the Israelis as well as “all the other ongoing efforts for peace” that Biden is allegedly pursuing.

The first of those efforts, Kirby said, is Biden’s attempt to forge a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. That deal, of course, will allow for wealthy businessmen in both of those countries to further enrich one another.

It will look like a “peace” deal but not included at all is anything that would benefit the Palestinian people—the key to achieving any lasting Middle East peace. It is a crude attempt to disguise as a peace deal the continued blocking of justice for Palestinians.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak to the press at the Israeli Ministry of Defense after their meeting in Tel Aviv, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Kirby said that Biden will also report to the American people on progress in the fight, along with NATO, to support the Ukrainian people in their struggle against Russia. That so-called “peace” effort has so far served as a cover for the unprecedented profit-making of U.S. armaments companies at the expense of ordinary people—Ukrainians, Russians, and Americans.

Kirby said that Biden will also report on everything the U.S. is doing in the Indo-Pacific region. Perhaps the president will explain why bringing NATO into that region, far from the North Atlantic, increases the prospects for peace or how the placement of U.S. nuclear weapons back in South Korea and stepping up the deployment of U.S. nuclear submarines all around Korea, increase the prospects for peace.

It is clear that, on its present course, U.S. foreign policy will not lead to a resolution of the war in Gaza and Israel. None of what the U.S. is offering could possibly lead to the Palestinian people giving up their fight for freedom nor will it, over the long run, do anything to make life better for the people of Israel.

The path taken by U.S. imperialism is a path to more war, more suffering, and more death. Peace can come in this war only with justice for Palestinians and then justice and security for all the people in that region, including the people of Israel.

It can only come if the U.S. stops sending billions of dollars to the Israeli military every year and if the American people demand a ceasefire now. We must get to the point in our country where a strong peace movement can push for a different road, taking us forever off the path of imperialism and war.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.