The death toll in Gaza increased dramatically on Monday as Israeli Defence Forces opened fire on thousands of Palestinian civilians, killing 41 and injuring at least 1,700, and the United States’ response served as a reminder that if the governments in Iran, Syria, North Korea or Russia had done the same thing, the U.S. would be calling for a full-scale invasion right now.
It is hypocrisy at its finest, especially considering the fact that the U.S. has a history of cheering on and aiding protests against foreign governments. In fact, when the mainstream media began sharing reports of protests in Iran in December 2017, President Trump took to Twitter to cheer on the dissidents.
“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump wrote, claiming that the United States was “watching very closely for human rights violations!”
Does that same logic not apply when thousands of Palestinians are standing up for their rights on the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli government is committing human rights violations? Trump’s silence is deafening, and it also serves as a reminder he has fallen into line with the same U.S. foreign policy standards that have been adopted and expressed by his predecessors.
When the U.S. launched its campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it went beyond just cheering on protesters, and it began launching multi-million-dollar programs to arm and train the protesters, even with the knowledge that many of them were extremists who would go on to strengthen radical groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. has also looked the other way in Saudi Arabia where the government is accused of a host human rights violations—including fuelling genocide in the poorest country in the Middle East—and it regularly executes civilians who have been accused of protesting, after denying them a fair trial.
The United States only seems to care about oppressive governments who commit human rights violations when those governments are not considered “close allies.” The double-standard is painfully evident in Gaza as the bloodiest day in months comes to a close.
Reports from the Health Ministry in Gaza claimed that several of the 41 Palestinians killed on Monday were teenagers, and as many as 1,700 civilians are now left suffering from injuries after Israeli Defense Forces opened fire on protests near Israel’s border fence.
This comes in addition to the dozens of Palestinians who have been killed and the thousands who have been wounded by Israeli sniper fire in recent weeks. While Israel has falsely claimed that every man or teenage boy who participated in the protests was a “militant” for Hamas, and deserved to die, there was one civilian death that was particularly notable.
Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian photojournalist, was wearing a jacket that clearly said “PRESS” when he was shot in the chest and killed by an Israeli sniper on Friday. As The Intercept noted, “Either the Israeli sniper could not clearly see who was in the rifle scope—in which case the claim that the use of live fire is precise is shown to be untrue—or the soldier intentionally fired at a journalist, which is a war crime.”
While Israel has justified the killings by claiming that their soldiers opened fire because the suspects “attempted to infiltrate” the Israel-Gaza border, a disturbing video was leaked last month that showed multiple Israeli men celebrating after a sniper targeted and shot a non-threatening man who was standing in a field on the other side of their border fence.
A man is seen standing motionless on the other side of the barrier as another man and a small child walk past him. Another man remarked, “I can’t see because of the wire” and then said, “there’s a little boy there,” noting the presence of the child.
The sniper then pulled the trigger and fired one shot, striking the Palestinian man who was standing still and was making no attempt to do anything that could have threatened the soldiers who had been observing him from a distance.
Cheers erupted from the Israelis after the Palestinian man was shot and then collapsed on the ground. The man filming the shooting can be heard saying, “Wow, what a video! Yes! Son of a bitch. What a video, here, run and get him out of there. Of course, I filmed it.”