In Speech on Israel, UN Secretary-General Offers Just Two Sentences About Hamas Killing Civilians
Justifying the unjustifiable.
By Hugh Fitzgerald
The text of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ meretricious speech on Israel has apparently been removed from the Internet. But here it is. I began my commentary on it here, and continue it below.
I have condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel.
Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.
All hostages must be treated humanely and released immediately and without conditions. I respectfully note the presence among us of members of their families.
So that’s it. in his entire speech, Guterres offers just two sentences about the “killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians” and insists that “all hostages must be treated humanely.”
It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.
This is the most intolerable sentence in Guterres’ speech. He is telling us that the previous conditions endured by the Palestinians — at the hands of the cruel Israelis — explain the rage of Hamas on October 7. We are asked to “understand” the terrible conditions that the Palestinians have endured for so long, and that naturally led to the explosion of rage against their Israeli tormentors. He is justifying the unjustifiable.
The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.
The people of Gaza have not been under “occupation” by Israel since 2005, when every last Israeli soldier and civilian pulled out of the Strip. Between 1967 and 2005, there were fewer than 10,000 Israelis living in settlements huddled together in eastern Gaza. That was not a “suffocating occupation”; the Gazans were left almost entirely alone by the Israelis to conduct their domestic lives as they saw fit. Indeed, the benign oversight by Israel was much less onerous — less “suffocating” — for Gazans than what they had endured either under Egyptian rule from 1949 to 1967, or under rule by the Hamas terror group, that has kept itself in power since 2007 by arresting, imprisoning, and even killing political rivals and dissidents opposed to its rule. Guterres describes “56 years of suffocating occupation” in Gaza, but the only “suffocating occupation” was that imposed by Egypt. Israeli rule, that lasted for 38, not 56 years, has been the freest that the people of Gaza have yet experienced. Perhaps, after the defeat and removal of Hamas, Gazans will again enjoy a better life under Palestinian technocrats unwilling to let billions in aid money be diverted to corrupt rulers, or to be spent on terror tunnels — that cost billions of dollars — and other preparations for war.
They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.
No land in Gaza has ben “devoured” by Israeli settlements; they were all dismantled in 2005. As for the West Bank, Israel is not “devouring” Palestinian land but building settlements, as it has every right to do, according to the Mandate for Palestine, on “state and waste lands” and, of course, on land bought from Arab owners. Guterres really ought to consult the Mandate for Palestine, Article 6, which calls for encouraging “close Jewish settlement on the land” — the “land” in question being all the land set aside by the League of Nations for Mandatory Palestine, which includes all the land, “from the river to the sea.”
The violence that plagues the West Bank is not Israel’s fault. The incessant terror attacks by Palestinians has caused the IDF to attack terrorist bases in response. The IDF never start the violence, And in a handful of cases, Israeli “settlers,” maddened by terrorist murderers, have run amok in Palestinian villages, vandalizing cars, uprooting olive trees, even damaging some houses. The Israeli state has gone after those settlers, prosecuting them for their violence. Does Guterres know about that?
But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
Israel is engaged in a war against Hamas terrorists. It is not visiting collective punishment upon the people of Gaza.. The IDF is doing everything it can to minimize the loss of civilian life. It has been urging the people of Gaza to move, temporarily, out of the northern part of the Strip where the heaviest fighting will take place, It warns civilians away from places about to be targeted, to repeat yet again, by messaging, telephoning, leafletting, and use of the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. Israeli pilots routinely call off attacks if they detect too many civilians near the sites targeted. Trying in every way to minimize casualties, the IDF is not engaged in “collective punishment.” As for denying Gazans food, water, and fuel, the following needs to be understood: It was Egypt, not Israel, that prevented aid from entering Gaza Israel has raised no objections to truckloads of supplies entering Gaza through the Rafah Crossing. Food and water and medicine are now entering Gaza. But the lack of“water that is blamed on Israel is directed to the wrong address. Israel only supplied Gaza with 7% of its water. The water shortage is due to Hamas, which has taken possession of all the fuel in Gaza, Its tanks are now. bursting with 500,000 liters of fuel. Without that fuel, the Gazans cannot run their desalination plants that supply so much of the Strip’s water. Nor is there fuel available to run the hospital generators. Israel is refusing to supply fuel as long as Hamas still has on hand those 500,000 liters of fuel that ought to be used by the Gazans to run hospital generators and desalination plants. Why would Israel want to make it easier for Hamas to acquire even more fuel to run its military machine?
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