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State Dept puts American seal of approval on latest Israeli-initiated round of violence

on 29 Comments
Jen Psaki

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

Since the publication of Amnesty International’s damning report on IDF practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel has responded by ramping up its killing of Palestinians. Entitled Trigger Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank, the report thoroughly documents the IDF’s violations of international human rights law, and calls on the international community to cease shipments of weapons and cooperation until Israel complies with international law.

Israel denied the validity of Amnesty International’s report. According to The National: “Israel’s military said Amnesty failed to mention ‘the substantial increase in Palestinian violence initiated over the past year’ that included ‘a sharp increase in rock-hurling incidents, gravely jeapordising the lives of civilians and military personnel.'”

Hours later “IDF sources later told the Jerusalem Post that 2014 so far has been characterized by similar incidents of disturbances and rock-throwing that marked the previous year. The trend is continuing. We’re not seeing anything that’s very unusual.”

These contradictory statements highlight the IDF’s defiant attitude in the face of thoroughly documented abuses, and confidence in the inability of the international community to prosecute war crimes.

The day the Amnesty report was released, the IDF assassinated Mutaz Washaha in an unusually grotesque and brutal display of military power, which I reported on here. The following day, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Amna Qdaih, a 50 year old mentally ill woman in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, the IDF killed six Palestinians over a 24 hour period.

Saji Darwish, a twenty old student of Bir Zeit University, was shot in the head while feeding his goats outside his home. The IDF claimed he was throwing rocks at settler vehicles before he was killed. The villagers claim he was not. According to Rajai Abukhalil, the physician who examined Darwish’s body, Saji was shot twice in the head from two different angles.

Raed Ala’ Ed-Deen Z’eitar, a Jordanian judge, was shot to death at the Allenby bridge crossing. He was traveling to his hometown of Nablus in order to visit his five-year-old son who was hospitalized in critical condition after swallowing something.  The IDF claimed Z’eitar attacked a soldier. Witnesses claim he was assaulted by soldiers and shot when he attempted to stand up after being thrown to the ground. Hours after the IDF declared Z’eitar to be a terrorist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to the Jordanian government and people, and announced the establishment of a joint Israeli-Jordanian team to investigate the killing.

Fidaa Muhye Addin Majadlah was killed in Tulkarem when he attempted to flee in his vehicle from Israeli soldiers last Tuesday morning. The passenger, Ibrahim Adnan Shukri, was reported to have sustained moderate to severe injuries.

In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinians were killed by an Israeli airstrike. They have been identified as Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and Abd al-Shafi Muammar, 33. The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, said “They were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area.” The IDF claimed “terrorists affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at IDF forces.”

In retaliation for Israel’s killings, Islamic Jihad launched at least 130 rockets into Israel. In response, Israel launched at least 29 air strikes on Gaza. Neither side reported any injuries. In Petah Tikva, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli. The victim was reported to be in moderate condition. The Jerusalem Post reported that the attack was in retaliation for the assassination of Mutaz Washaha.

Israeli officials portrayed the latest violence as initiated by Palestinian rocket attacks. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted “If there won’t be quiet in the South, there will be noise in Gaza, and this is an understatement.” Israeli President Shimon Peres said “The people of Gaza have to choose — it’s either peace or violence.”

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said last Wednesday afternoon in a statement: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s rocket attacks into Israel by terrorists from the Gaza Strip. It is reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone. There is no justification for such attacks. We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself.”

Psaki withheld such condemnation for Israel’s recent killings. During a press briefing on Tuesday, When asked about Israel’s killing of six Palestinians in a 24 hour period, Psaki dismissed the question saying “they all have different circumstances,” and “I would caution anyone against linking everything in – to one group.” When asked about Israel attacking Gaza in the context of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ upcoming visit to Washington, Psaki replied “We certainly encourage both sides to continue to take steps that are conducive to a peace process.”

The State Department’s refusal to condemn Israel’ unprovoked killings of Palestinians, while using the strongest terms possible to criticize Palestinian reactions, effectively stamps American approval on the latest Israeli-initiated cycle of violence. Indeed, during Israel’s murderous 24 hours, the Israeli and American militaries held a joint training exercise, ignoring Amnesty International’s calls for American military cooperation with Israel to cease. While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with President Obama, the events of the last week demonstrate the firm Israeli-allied position of the United States.

Adam Wolf

Adam Wolf is an independent journalist based in Palestine. He tweets at @adamwolf3000.

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29 Responses

  1. amigo on March 17, 2014, 1:19 pm

    US hypocracy at it,s finest.

    Russia is being set up for sanctions because the Crimean People voted crica 97% in favor of aligning themselves with Russia.

    Israel has been stealing land for decades and illegally annexing Palestinian territory and what does the US do????.

    It supports this criminal behavior.

    These ass—es make me sick.

    As to Israel upping the ante.What,s new.This is what they always do.Kerry must be squeezing nuttyahoo,s family jewels and the reaction works it way to Gaza or the WB.

    Are you watching these criminals God.Are you paying attention to what your chosen people are doing in your name.

    What say you God.We can,t hear you.

    • American on March 17, 2014, 2:39 pm

      ‘These ass—es make me sick’…amigo

      Me too.
      Burn Washington to the Ground and Start Over!

      (Note to the NSA spymasters—I’m speaking politically not literally. Ha,ha, got all excited didn’t you?)

  2. eljay on March 17, 2014, 2:58 pm

    >> The State Department’s refusal to condemn Israel’ unprovoked killings of Palestinians, while using the strongest terms possible to criticize Palestinian reactions…

    …is, unfortunately but not surprisingly, nothing new.

  3. Erasmus on March 17, 2014, 4:17 pm

    The same deplorable Statement by germany’s Foreign Minister STEINMEIER

    Statement by Foreign Minister Steinmeier
    Thursday, 13. März 2014 09:20 EST

    Foreign Minister Steinmeier addresses rocket attacks on Israel

    We condemn yesterday’s rocket-attacks from Gaza on Israel in the strongest terms. I am glad that nobody has been harmed.
    The calculation of those responsible for these terror acts to torpedo the difficult and still fragile peace process, shall not succeed.
    The negotiations for peace in the Near East are in a difficult phase. It still needs major efforts by all sides. We support with full power the American efforts in their negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians.

    It goes without saying that there has been no official statement – not to speak about a corresponding condemnation in the “strongest terms” by the German Foreign Minister / Ministry with respect to the IDF killing spree in Gaza and the West Bank which occurred PRIOR to the Qassam rockets launched from Gaza.


    • ziusudra on March 18, 2014, 12:30 pm

      Greetings Erasmus,
      Here in Germany, you ne’er hear the Falesteeni, Iranian, No.Korean & now Russia’s side from any political colour &/or Party, except the Leftists.
      Pres. Putin is wrong also for negating contracts of a sovereign state, but God bless
      him! The West, Zionistan, the EU & Nato are doing it all the time.
      Hmm, wasn’t there a contract in 94 for the west not to extend Nato into eastern Europe? – Oy, weh, they did! – The world missed it.
      Alles Gute, E.

  4. Donald on March 17, 2014, 5:08 pm

    “The State Department’s refusal to condemn Israel’ unprovoked killings of Palestinians, while using the strongest terms possible to criticize Palestinian reactions, effectively stamps American approval on the latest Israeli-initiated cycle of violence. ”

    Business as usual. AFAIK the last time the US took some sort of stand regarding Israeli violence was during the 1982 bombing of Lebanon. I think I remember reading in Jonathan Randal’s book “Going All the Way” about Phillip Habib screaming at some Israeli (either Begin or Sharon) about the bombing. Kinda surprising, given that overall the Reagan Administration wasn’t exactly the strongest we ever had on human rights issues.

    But hypocrisy is what you’d expect from President Drone. Obama, Bush, and Netanyahu are all members of the same club–the Western war criminal society. And all sarcasm aside, I’d be amazed if an American President took a strong stand against Israeli war crimes. It’d be setting a precedent which an American President wouldn’t want to set. Obama hasn’t exactly been a strong proponent of investigating Bush war crimes for the same reason.

    Whistleblowers though–Obama has no tolerance for that sort of criminality.

  5. Mayhem on March 17, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Even the head of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the multiple rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel. The US is not alone. Read

    • Donald on March 17, 2014, 10:38 pm

      I have no problem with people condemning rocket attacks on civilians. I have a problem with the hypocritical American government which says nothing when Israel kills far more Palestinians (including children).

      • Mayhem on March 18, 2014, 12:22 am

        @Donald, Palestinians are often the aggressors. Israel has gone to great lengths to protect its civilian population from the incessant rocket attacks from Gaza. This is not a numbers game.

  6. just on March 17, 2014, 8:51 pm

    A really meaningful editorial, imo. There’s much more at the link.

    “Nor would I forget that several of the leaders in the struggle for freedom and democracy in communist Poland were Jews, among them Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who said about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo: “That’s how it was with the Jews in the ghetto. That’s how it is now in Kosovo. If you kill only a thousand people because they are Muslim, that’s a Holocaust too.”

    If I were an American Jew, I would conclude that this was a time of emergency. It’s not the Iranian threat that endangers Israel’s survival, it’s the moral and ethical collapse of its society.

    And I would recall March 1933, about two months after Hitler came to power, when in an emergency meeting, Jewish leaders in the United States decided to call for a boycott of German goods. That was a hard decision. There was a fear that the Jews would be accused of hurting their country’s economy, which would exacerbate the anti-Semitic atmosphere.

    The person who led the decision was Rabbi Stephen Wise, a founder of the American Jewish Congress and later the president of the Zionist Organization of America. Wise said: “The time for prudence and caution is past. We must speak up like men …. What is happening in Germany today may happen tomorrow in any other land on earth unless it is challenged and rebuked. It is not the German Jews who are being attacked. It is the Jews.”

    Such a sense of emergency does not exist today among the millions of Jews worldwide. Amid the awareness that Israel is sliding toward an apartheid regime, their silence is deafening. They don’t dare break with the consensus and take action against the injustices being perpetrated in Israel. This is a traditional policy of Diaspora Jews, who since the establishment of Israel have set a basic rule: We are not citizens of the Jewish state and therefore we have no right to intervene in deciding its future.

    But if the vision of an open, egalitarian and peace-loving Israel is important to Jews around the world, they can’t leave the chances of fulfilling it in the hands of the Israelis alone. The racist cancer, after 47 years of occupation and domination of another people, has spread deep into Israeli society.

    World Jewry must help Israel be cured of it. It must speak out and act. It must come out openly and sever any economic, cultural or political tie with any person or organization that promotes turning Israel into a racist apartheid state, whether a settler, a rabbi who preaches violence, or a politician who promotes racist legislation.

    And Jews must cooperate with the shrinking groups of Israelis who have not yet lost hope that it’s possible to stop this downslide toward the abyss.

    Daniel Blatman is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”

  7. kma on March 17, 2014, 9:01 pm

    the “demographic threat” to Israel is entirely false. here in the US, we have AIPAC and democrats and republicans, minority Jewish but the zionist caucus is somewhere near 100%.
    so, why can’t they take their shit to Israel and deal with it there, and get it out of here? they can have the whole thing intact as far as I’m concerned. I’d even pay to get rid of ’em. AIPAC, dems, repubs. they are not true Americans.

  8. Huguenot on March 17, 2014, 9:19 pm

    The continual one-sided U.S. response to any form of violence in the Palestine-Israeli area is that “Israel has the right to defend itself”, but never allows that the Palestinians have the same right to self-defense, even though they have a much greater need of it. Anytime the Palestinians or Gazans defend themselves they are met with U.S. approved massive bombing, rocketing, death and material destruction. As an eighth generation American steeped in the culture of fair play and justice I find that my country has fallen into a terrible state of political self indulgence and vulnerability to massive doses of money to campaign support filtered through foreign interests. U.S. smug support of many foreign autocrats under the banner of, “he may be a bad guy, but he’s our bad guy”, is truly debasing our society and political system.
    While working in Russia for a number of years during the transition from Gorbachev to Yeltsin to Putin, I had been in contact with several military leaders who were surprisingly anxious for the Russian Orthodox Church to assume control of the moral behavior of the citizenry since the rules of Marxism and Communist dogma were in disrepute. It is that sense of independent maturity and responsibility that is sadly lacking in a large portion of our society today. We need moral guidance from an authoritative level. Instead we see capitalism growing increasingly less controllable and personal behavior that is growing more violent, immoral and shameful. Strangley I am not a religious person, but I do believe in responsible behavior.

  9. Shuki on March 17, 2014, 10:13 pm

    The State Department’s refusal to condemn Israel’ unprovoked killings of Palestinians

    Last time I checked, firing mortars was an act of provocation.

  10. Linda J on March 17, 2014, 10:44 pm

    I called the Palestine/Israel desk at the State Dept. (1-202-647-3672). It went straight to voicemail. I told them I knew they were in the back room bundling billions of dollars to send to Israel and were too busy to talk to taxpayers whose money it is. Then I proceeded to excoriate their persistent failure to criticize Israel’s killing sprees. Anyway, it felt good to tell them off.

  11. Citizen on March 18, 2014, 2:39 am

    State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. Wonder if she ever uses some of her free time to google the subjects she is paid to (mis)represent? Wonder if any government staffers eve do…. Is she given a script and/or crib sheet, and then she rehearses what she will say to the press? Use a teleprompter?

  12. seafoid on March 18, 2014, 5:41 am

    “Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted “If there won’t be quiet in the South, there will be noise in Gaza, and this is an understatement.”

    That is his way of talking to his people. They love whuppin Gaza.
    Never mind all the traumatised kids.
    Just beat the crap out of the gimp in the cage.

    Tony Benn’s 5 questions to Milikovsky on behalf of the people of Gaza

    what power do you have ?
    where did you get it ?
    in whose interests do you exercise it ?
    to whom are you accountable?
    how can we get rid of you?

  13. NickJOCW on March 18, 2014, 6:02 am

    These criticisms, while understandable, assume that in some way there is a flat playing field out there and the US and others go by rules. There isn’t and they don’t. The present nonsense with Crimea is entirely in line with the tortuous nonsense Jen Psaki utters on hosts of subjects all but daily. It might be less harmful if the State Department spokespersons were deaf mutes. On the other hand the briefings are entertaining, like watching a wily trout evade a bunch of fishers. One consolation is increasing numbers of the general public, particularly in Europe, are seeing through it. The US has lost the moral high ground, which like virginity is not recoverable, and is no longer trusted; it is becoming an embarrassing joke. The I/P kaleidoscope needs shaking. Maybe Abbas will come through on April 29.

    • Citizen on March 18, 2014, 5:11 pm

      “The US has lost the moral high ground, which like virginity is not recoverable, and is no longer trusted; it is becoming an embarrassing joke. ”

      Yes, just like Scarlett J. She just doesn’t know it yet. OK, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and either was BDS against apartheid S Africa.

  14. seafoid on March 18, 2014, 6:04 am

    “Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted “If there won’t be quiet in the South, there will be noise in Gaza, and this is an understatement.”

    Sonofabitch. No problem that can’t be sorted out with massive doses of violence and cruelty.
    Like that really has worked over the last 66 years.

  15. soldier_wo_fortune on March 18, 2014, 8:27 am

    So, Israel has the “right of defense”? It follows, then, that if I break into someone’s home to steal their property, I would have the “right of defense”?! Palestinians only have the “right to da fence” which surrounds them

  16. Kathleen on March 18, 2014, 11:46 am

    All the while we hear President Obama, Jay Carney at a press conference lecturing Russia’s Putin about violations of international law, UN Charter, “territorial integrity.” Can anyone say Iraq, drones, torture? Can anyone say Israel being in violation of more UN sanctions than any other nation, international law, violation of Palestinians “territorial integrity.” all with the support of billions of dollars every years in U.S. aid. Guess based on what Obama, Carney, Biden are saying about Russia we can expect sanctions against Israel any minute now.

    • ziusudra on March 18, 2014, 12:44 pm

      Greetings Kathleen,
      Putin has violated int’l. law by annexing the Crimea.
      The west has violated int’l. law by extending Nato into eastern Europe!
      You cannot love unilaterally.
      You cannot acquiese law unilaterally.
      PS Missionaries on the east coast spread christinanity to the Hurons & Iroquoi in early US history.
      The Hurons adopted ‘turn the cheek’, the Iroquoi didn’t. The Hurons were annaihilated by them!
      PPS The US, EU, Nato & Zionistan encroach yiddle by yiddle! You cannot trust them.

  17. Justpassingby on March 18, 2014, 12:06 pm

    I dont know what is more ugly, Psaki herself or her love for genocides.

  18. LanceThruster on March 18, 2014, 1:39 pm

    “We kill because we care.”

  19. atime forpeace on March 18, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Bill Kristol gets taken to the woodshed….Neocon American think tanks will bear the brunt.

  20. seafoid on March 19, 2014, 9:48 am

    Jen will say like whatever but under the surface things are bubbling away very nicely

    “The Obama administration launched a blistering personal attack on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday, accusing him of “undermining” the security ties between Israel and the United States. “We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States,” a senior administration official said.

    The official’s sharp reaction, which appeared to be carefully worded, came in response to harsh criticism leveled by Ya’alon at the Obama administration in an address at Tel Aviv University, reported in Haaretz on Tuesday. Ya’alon said the United States “shows weakness” in various arenas around the world – including Ukraine – and that its allies in the Middle East are disappointed. Ya’alon said that because it is “sitting at home,” America is opening itself up to terror attacks “and the United States will suffer.””

    The bots do not understand the post Iraq world.

    “Every time I go to Walter Reed [Hospital] and visit wounded troops and every time I sign a letter for a casualty of that war, I’m reminded that there are costs and we have to take those into account as we try to work within an international framework to do everything we can “

  21. seafoid on March 19, 2014, 10:02 am

    “Washington officials targeting Israeli defense minister over his political stance, associates claim

    Sources close to Moshe Ya’alon is under attack because of his positions on the Palestinians, say the sources.

    In blistering attack, U.S. official accuses Ya’alon of ‘undermining’ relations with Washington

    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has been marked as a problem by certain elements in Washington because of his positions on the Palestinian issue, said sources near him, hence the sharp counterattack following the minister’s comments on “American weakness” around the world. These people “take every opportunity to attack him,” the sources near Ya’alon added.

    During discussions on the Palestinian issue, Ya’alon presented uncompromising positions, since he felt the suggestions and proposed concessions would compromise Israel’s security, the sources near him said.

    “Certain elements in Washington define Bogie [the defense minister’s nickname] as extreme, as the hard nut in the Israeli government,” said a Ya’alon adviser. “They’ve been trying to damage his legitimacy and popularity among the public, but it isn’t working.”

    Everything, everything, everything

  22. American on March 19, 2014, 10:49 am

    More stupidity please Israel…more, more!
    Faster, faster!

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