Western countries crack down on public support for Palestinians as the atrocities mount in Gaza. The mask is off on the underlying brutality of the West’s disregard for civilian life and civil liberties, writes Elizabeth Vos.
By Elizabeth Vos
Special to Consortium News
Hundreds of people were killed on Tuesday by a devastating airstrike on the Anglican al-Ahli al-Arab hospital in Gaza City. Although Israel now blames the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) for the bombing, observers including reporters from MSNBC and the BBC suggest that this is unlikely.
A reporter for the BBC stated on air: “The Israeli military.. have said they are investigating, but it’s hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli air strike…”
The Anglican News Service also reported that the same hospital was hit by an Israeli rocket the day before the massive explosion.
Hananya Naftali, who currently works for Benjamin Netanyahu as a deputy media advisor, initially posted via social media that Israel had bombed the al-Ahli hospital before deleting the post and blaming PIJ for the attack.
He eventually apologized and retracted his first post, as Israel blamed a misfired Hamas rocket for the grisly damage. An official Israeli government Twitter account also deleted a video they published as evidence of Hamas’s responsibility for the attack after it was exposed to have included a video dating from 2022.
As journalist Jonathan Cook observed:
“BBC News is going out of its way to lend a sympathetic ear to Israel’s patently ridiculous claim that Islamic Jihad, not Israel, hit al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, killing many hundreds of Palestinian families sheltering there. That’s even though every journalist at the BBC knows that no group in Gaza has a rocket capable of flattening an entire building. Their rockets would barely be able to knock a hole in one of the hospital’s wall”
Another Israeli strike destroyed a crucial UNRWA depot in central Gaza holding scarce supplies. Palestinian civilians were continuously shelled in their homes. The death toll of civilians continues to rise, with the real numbers unknown as untold numbers of people remain under the rubble, with no one left in some families to reclaim the bodies.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. also reportedly pushed back on Netanyahu for denying Israel’s responsibility for the hospital bombing, saying: “He is a liar. His spokesperson and digital spokesperson tweeted that Israel did the hit thinking that this hospital was a base for Hamas. Then he deleted that tweet. Now they change the story to try to blame the Palestinians. It is a lie.”
Earlier today I shared a report that was published on @reuters about the bombing at the hospital in Gaza which falsely stated Israel struck the hospital. I mistakenly shared this information in a since deleted post in which I referenced Hamas’ routine use of hospitals to store…
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) October 17, 2023
Electronic Intifada further criticized Israel’s refusal to admit responsibility for the attack, deconstructing numerous official Israeli social media posts.
The attack at al-Ahli al-Arab hospital was so atrocious that doctors were forced to hold a press conference surrounded by casualties. During their press conference, the hospital’s director reportedly stated that “The IDF told us, ‘we warned you yesterday with two bombs. So why have you not evacuated the hospital until this moment?'” A doctor at the press conference said that Western officials who gave “unconditional support” to Israel had “blood on their hands” after this attack.
All this comes after the WHO reported that multiple medical facilities had been targeted by Israel during the recent bombing campaigns. Hospitals in Gaza were already on the verge of total collapse. Israel also continues to bomb medics and emergency personnel in the midst of their attempt to perform their duties.
Naftali claims this video shows that Islamic Jihad rockets hit the hospital. While they are seen flying over the hospital, none are seen in this video actually hitting it. How many of these simple rockets would have to detonate to cause the massive explosion that destroyed the building? The next video shows, and has the distinct sound (turn up volume) of a more powerful JDAM bomb (listen) — which the Palestinians clearly don’t have — hitting the hospital.
For those that still doubt whether Israel bombed the hospital in Gaza or not, please watch this >> pic.twitter.com/Pfwj6yF5MO
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) October 18, 2023
Moment the I$r@eli t3rr0r1sts attacked the Christian Hospital in Gaza??
That is not a rocket, its a Bunker Buster b0mb??
The Z10N1$T$ are lying to buy some time so they've instructed their Media dogs to run with this evil lie??
"Our dead are in Paradise while yours in Hell." pic.twitter.com/28jEHUptUA
— TriptopaxRomana (@TriptopaxRomana) October 18, 2023
When morning came however, the damage done to the hospital grounds appear less than what might have been expected by such a huge blast. A BBC analysis appears to show that the explosion was restricted to the parking lot of the hospital, where thousands of internally displaced people had apparently been sheltering. The analysis appears to indicate that the deaths (and there is no firm number yet) may have come from mostly from fire. Given the less than expected damage, it leaves open the possibility that it was an errant Palestinian rocket.
There is still one more possibility: the small crater and limited damage to the hospital structures might have come from an Israeli airburst bomb, with such a concussive blast causing the kind of amputation injuries seen all over the courtyard of the hospital.
As this "expert" must know, American JDAM bombs have an "airbust" capability that allows them to explode before they hit the ground, a mode used to cause maximum carnage on "soft" targets – human bodies https://t.co/Bj1bF37QLFhttps://t.co/5Pw5JoKXMn https://t.co/KNni13Ms2n
— Ali Abunimah is now on bluesky (@AliAbunimah) October 18, 2023
As Israel mentioned an Al Jazeera video as proof that Israel didn’t do it, Al Jazeera analyzed its own video and came up with the conclusion that it had to be Israel who was responsible.
BREAKING: Al Jazeera digital investigation DEBUNKS Israel's claimed that a Palestinian rocket hit Gaza's al-Ahli hospital.
Israel bombed the hospital. End of story. pic.twitter.com/WJ9WCgOYo1
— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) October 19, 2023
Other Means of Death
Regardless of who was responsible, bombing is not the only form of terror facing Palestinians: “A U.N. official just told me civilians in Gaza are reduced to drinking sea water because clean water has run out. Body bags are running out, fuel for hospital generators powering ventilators will run out in hours. Food supply low. The bombing is intensifying. There aren’t words.” So wrote The Independent’s award-winning chief international correspondent, Bel Trew on Monday.
Children in Gaza are killed and orphaned by the hour, with those who escape shelling facing imminent starvation and dehydration under Israel’s blockade. Israel bombed the crossing from Gaza into Egypt again on Monday, further delaying the entry of desperately needed supplies. The Guardian reported the words of a nurse in Gaza, who commented on wounded children brought to hospitals who are the last living members of their families: “This is a war against children. Even the survivors will spend the rest of their lives on their own.”
This is the brutal, criminal reality below the niceties and the moral sloganeering, now in full view.
Israel: You guys need to evacuate that hospital or you'll get killed.
Palestinians: We can't evacuate the hospital, it's a hospital.
*powerful missile hits hospital*
Israel: It was the Palestinians.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 17, 2023
The media has thus far failed to fully control the public narrative around Israel’s worsening war crimes, especially as images of slaughter escape Gaza via social media, bypassing dishonestcorporate media framing. In response to massive public outcry in solidarity with Palestinians, multiple Western governments are cracking down on dissent and in doing so, further exposing the West’s real values when it comes to atrocities.
The Western propaganda machine excuses, obfuscates, and covers up Israeli crimes. In that sense, the ongoing atrocity genocide and the response to it is not simply a revelation of Israel’s efforts at ethnic cleansing. It is a mask-off moment for the underlying brutality of the entire architecture of the Western empire, its total disregard for civilian life and civil liberties.
The U.S., the U.K., and Europe also aid Israel in terms of financial and material support. Israel has always been propped up by the West: as President Joe Biden has said multiple times, if Israel didn’t exist, “we would have to invent one in the Middle East.” Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday and in a televised appearance with Netanyahu said that “from what I’ve seen,” the “other team, meaning not you” did this.
Biden: 'Israel did not bomb the hospital, it was done by them'.
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) October 18, 2023
In attempting to excuse this escalating ethnic cleansing, the Western corporate press is revealing the true value of human life under empire: zero. Zero value for the lives of Palestinians and their children, and even for the Israeli hostages in Gaza.
Zero value in upholding Western democratic ideals that so many wars have been excused by. The world public has noticed, turning out in the thousands to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians despite the pro-Israel propaganda.
In response, many Western countries have stepped up efforts to criminalize support for the Palestinians, starkly demonstrating that the democratic ideals supposedly held by the West are dead.
Former U.K. ambassador and human rights activist Craig Murray was reportedly detained and questioned on Monday under the U.K.’s “Prevention of Terrorism Act,” after returning from a solidarity march in Iceland for Palestinians.
— Going Underground (@GUnderground_TV) October 9, 2023
At least 57 members of Jewish Voices for Peace were arrested while showing their solidarity with Palestinians in New York City. Pro-Palestinian rallies in France and Germany have been outlawed. And the British home secretary likewise warned about criminalizing flying the Palestinian flag.
Within Israel, the government has grown nervous enough about public opinion on the ongoing atrocities to heavily criminalize dissent, including factual information, as reported by Haaretz. This came after multiple voices within Israel, including those whose relatives had been taken hostage, urged the Israeli government not to destroy Gaza.
If Israel’s new law seems anti-democratic, freedom of speech isn’t looking much freer in France or Germany: The Hill reports that French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin banned “all pro-Palestine protests in the country… He has ordered foreign nationals who violate the protest ban to be “systematically” deported.” After tens of thousands of people protested in solidarity with Palestinians anyway, tear gas was used against the French public:
France deploys water cannons and tear gas against peaceful pro-Palestine protesters. Nothing says "this is a free country" like using chemical warfare against those trying to prevent genocide. pic.twitter.com/yuMKsPvr41
— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) October 13, 2023
Mnar Adley, CEO of the independent news organization Mintpress News, reported on apparent social media censorship of videos explaining the situation from a Palestinian perspective.
Meanwhile, independent journalist Eva Bartlett had her YouTube account completely removed. Bartlett wrote via X (formerly Twitter): “After over 15 years of having a Youtube account, now, while Israel is genociding Palestinians, Youtube has suddenly closed my account completely. This is not coincidental. I had many videos which I took in Gaza, under Israel’s bombs in 2009 & 2012 showing the reality of the terror Palestinians endured under relentless Israeli bombing & sniping.”
After over 15 years of having a Youtube account, now, while Israel is genociding Palestinians, Youtube has suddenly closed my account completely.
This is not coincidental. I had many videos which I took in Gaza, under Israel's bombs in 2009 & 2012… pic.twitter.com/Tn39HQgfCc
— Eva Karene Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) October 14, 2023
According to Yahoo News, the BBC has removed six reporters for anti-Israel social media posts. After tens of thousands marched in multiple cities across Britain, the BBC was forced to apologize for mischaracterizing the rallies as if they were in support of Hamas, rather than in solidarity with the Palestinians living under apartheid and Israeli bombs.
All of Israel’s attacks on civilians, the West’s dishonest reporting on Israel’s war crimes, the attempts to silence solidarity with Palestinians, and the material aid sent by the West to Israel amidst its attacks on civilians in broad daylight, constitute a mask-off moment for Empire like we’ve never seen before.
Where the degradation of Palestinians by Israel was previously shoved to the side of public discourse, the entire world is now witnessing the reality of Israel and the West’s utter disregard for human life in Gaza. Despite its posturing, the Western establishment’s support for Israel as it commits atrocity after atrocity is demonstrating in real time that the West has no moral authority.
Its defense of human rights and democracy is a lie.
UPDATED with new information about the bomb site on the morning after from a BBC analysis, including the possibility that minimal structural damage was caused by an airburst bomb.
Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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