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Opinion

Pottery Barn Rules for Gaza

People search for water in Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit: UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

ATLANTA, Georgia, Jul 1 2024 (IPS) - The rule at Pottery Barn is “You break it, you bought it.” It should be for Israel as well. The Netanyahu government’s eight-month long bombing campaign in Gaza, nearly half of the strikes by 2,000 lb. “dumb” or unguided bombs, has destroyed a high percentage of housing units in the territory.

Hospitals, universities, schools, vocational training centers, mosques, and one church and a Christian hospital were bombed deliberately. If—and when—the war is over, who will pay for the damage to Gaza’s infrastructure? The answer is that Israel must pay.

The death toll among Palestinian civilians is horrific—as everybody knows—over 37,000 by now according to UN data, one third of them children, with many corpses still under the rubble. None of the children killed in the Netanyahu war cabinet’s genocidal attacks ever voted for HAMAS or had anything to do with the October 7th bloody razzia by Yahya Sinwar’s minions.

Long after the hated name HAMAS is expunged from history, Israel’s far greater barbarity will remain, having stained the nation forever.

This war needs to stop. If the word “inhumane” no longer has meaning, we are all in trouble. Despite warnings by President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken not to give way to rage and keep killing civilians unnecessarily, US funding for the war has continued and even increased by lopsided congressional votes.

While the nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah huddle in their tents waiting the bombing that is sure to come, the hypocrisy of US leaders is transparent and galling—“Don’t kill civilians—but here’s plenty of money and bombs to do it with.”

Most commentators say Netanyahu is headed for the political scrap heap and possibly to jail when this war is over. He therefore has an incentive to keep the war going as long as possible. And Biden’s “pause” in sending more 2,000 lb. bombs to Israel is a joke—everybody knows they will get there eventually.

What will even be left of Gaza’s infrastructure in another few months? Looking forward, who will build homes for the more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million dispossessed people who are now living on the streets or under plastic sheets with summer’s raging heat continuing?

Why should US taxpayers pay for Israel’s ammunition that is even now killing multitudes of innocent people, and then pay to rebuild their homes? Why should the Arab Gulf states, as they have been doing for decades. pay for the damage?

No–Israel must pay. They broke it and they must fix it. That does not mean that they can colonize and keep it to compensate themselves. Expulsion of the Arab citizens and annexation and colonization of the territory would be another international war crime on top of the ones already committed.

It’s true that HAMAS started the war with its obscene killing and capturing of civilians. But nobody alive on planet earth for the last 75 years really believes that the clock started Oct. 7. The fact is that this mad and bloody Arab-Israeli conflict began over a century ago. Over half of the families now in Gaza were forcibly evicted from their homes and villages in southern Palestine in the 1948 Nakba (disaster).

The tragedy is that two of the world’s most high-sounding religions, Judaism and Islam, have stooped to such inhumanity and have belied their principles, making both HAMAS and hyper-Zionist Israel global bywords of scorn for their inhumane actions.

Netanyahu and the Israeli leadership have for decades put into effect a very clever plan: transfer the costs of operating the West Bank to Arab allies, the US and the international community, and the eternally hopeful PLO-led Palestinians—and, after 2007, to HAMAS in Gaza, but never with any intention of allowing anything near full statehood to develop.

The Palestinians, the UN, the Arab States, and the world community have been duped for decades, paying for maintenance of the West Bank quasi-government and the reconstruction of South Lebanon and Gaza following the many wars with Israel. Who paid for all those Israeli jet fighters, tanks, and bombs? The ever-gullible US voters.

The Arab World, the US taxpayers, and especially the Palestinians national leaders, were suckers, paying for false Israeli promises of Palestinian independence, only to be occupied militarily, while being continuously and intermittently bombed into submission. American politicians are just waking up to this reality.

Israel—especially the Netanyahu government—has never had any intention of allowing a truly independent state on the West Bank and in Gaza. The US and the Gulf States, along with numerous international organizations, have supported Palestinian life and livelihood for decades, but that should end. Israel should either put up or shut up.

Is the “Two-State Solution” a chimera or a mirage? Will Israel assume its full obligations under international law? What is the point of creating a Bantustan on the West Bank, and possibly another one in Gaza, as if they represent real countries with genuine statehood, borders, and independence?

As the occupying power controlling life on the West Bank for 56 years ever since the 1967 War–and now for Gaza as the blockading power and besieging entity, Israel is legally responsible under international law.

Both areas are the responsibility of Israel. It’s time they started paying their own bills and not looking to US citizens or the Arab States to pick up the check. Israel must pay. You broke it—you fix it.

James E. Jennings, PhD, is an advocate for Palestinian Human and Civil Rights and for greater understanding of the Middle East by Americans. He has delivered humanitarian aid in Palestine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran for over half a century, receiving among others, an award from the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees. Jennings has appeared on CNN, FOX, al-Jazeera, and other media in the US and abroad. He is president of the aid organization Conscience International www.conscienceinternational.org and director of its US Academics for Peace program.

IPS UN Bureau

 


  
 
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