White House absolves Israel of all responsibility in Gaza deaths | Spanlish


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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

White House absolves Israel of all responsibility in Gaza deaths

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah absolves Israel of any blame for the deaths in Gaza.

“We believe Hamas, as an organization, is engaged in cynical action that’s leading to these deaths,” said deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

Israeli security forces killed more than 50 Palestinians and injured another 2,400 on Monday during protests at the Gaza Strip over the US Embassy move to Jerusalem, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war with Israel.

The White House, though, doesn’t believe Israel deserves any blame for that.

During a White House press briefing on Monday, a reporter asked deputy press secretary Raj Shah whether the United States was calling on Israel to “use restraint in dealing with these protests.”

Shah responded that Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza and organized the protests, is to blame. “We believe that Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths, that their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths, and we want them to stop,” Shah said.

The reporter asked again, “So there’s no burden on Israel to do something to sort of rein it in?”

Shah: “No. We think that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Hamas is the one that, frankly, bear [sic] responsibility for the dire situation right now in Gaza.”

A few minutes later, another reporter asked a similar question: “So there’s no responsibility beyond that on the Israeli authorities — kill at will?”

Again, Shah responded, “We believe Hamas, as an organization, is engaged in cynical action that’s leading to these deaths.”

“This is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt,” Shah said, noting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agrees that “Israel has the right to self-defense.”

This is a stunning statement from the White House. Instead of calling on both sides to exercise restraint and avoid further casualties, the Trump administration is outright echoing the most extreme far-right Israeli government talking points that all of this is Hamas’s fault and is absolving the Israeli government of any responsibility whatsoever for the massive number of dead and injured Palestinians.

To be sure, Hamas does bear some responsibility for helping organize these protests — but the standoff didn’t have to be this bloody.

There are credible reports of Palestinian demonstrators throwing rocks and firebombs (Molotov cocktails) toward Israel forces. The Israeli military also claims some protesters fired bullets towards Israeli soldiers and that Israeli forces killed three Palestinians who were attempting to place a bomb at the border fence.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces are trying to prevent protesters from potentially breaching the border.

Not a single Israeli soldier (or civilian) was harmed by Palestinian protesters. Meanwhile, more than 50 Palestinians were killed and nearly 2,500 were injured during the demonstrations.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said: “The rioters are hurling firebombs and explosive devices towards the security fence and IDF forces, and are burning tires, throwing rocks and launching flaming objects in order to ignite fires in Israeli territory and harm IDF troops.”

Children and a medic were reportedly are among the victims. On Sunday, a woman was shot in the stomach and had to be rushed to the hospital.

But as my colleague Zack Beauchamp explains, all of this was “eminently predictable”:

Though Israel’s government is based in Jerusalem, and Congress had passed a law in 1995 requiring the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, US presidents had repeatedly issued a waiver blocking the move from taking place. The logic was very clear: Jerusalem is one of the major flashpoints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming the city as rightfully theirs.

Moving the US Embassy would be a sign that the United States was recognizing the city as Israeli without also recognizing the Palestinian claims to it, a move that would anger Palestinians and jeopardize America’s broker status in peace talks. Experts on the conflict warned that moving the embassy would be like lighting the fuse on a powder keg; the Israeli-Palestinian situation is perpetually on the brink of violence, and doing something like this risked kicking off another round of conflict.

Israel could’ve prepared to deal with this situation a lot better. While it’s undoubtedly hard to quell aggressive and even violent protests, Israel didn’t have to kill scores of people to protect itself.

But based on Shah’s comments, none of that matters to the White House.

Source: White House absolves Israel of all responsibility in Gaza deaths

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