By Ray Hanania
When Israel last week accused a small number of UN Relief and Works Agency employees of participating in the violent Oct. 7 attack on the country, the US did not even hesitate before announcing a freeze in funding to the agency that supports Palestinian refugees.
The White House took swift action in response to a shocking assertion, but we do not know if Israel’s claims against UNRWA are true. We may never know what really happened. The unverified stories of what happened on Oct. 7 have been the force driving Israel’s boundless military assault.
Legitimate questions remain unanswered. Such as, of the approximately 1,200 Israelis reportedly killed during the Hamas attack, how many civilians were killed by Israeli soldiers who responded indiscriminately? No one has questioned any details of the attack or the contradictory reports of many witnesses, including Israelis.
Since the victims were Israeli, the US immediately embraced its government’s claims and Secretary of State Antony Blinken released indignant statements denouncing the terrorist attack and demanding that Arab countries not expand the conflict or defend Hamas.
President Joe Biden and Blinken accepted, on face value and on the word of Israel, that 1,200 Israelis were killed. They even embraced the rumors of the most extreme acts of carnage without any verified evidence. Israel’s word, its press releases and its assertions are accepted as fact.
However, that is not the case with the evidence of the carnage caused by Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack. In the more than 110 days of Israel’s war on Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has overseen an indiscriminate and punitive wave of violent revenge against Palestinians in the Strip.
The Israelis have razed to the ground the majority of homes and businesses in nearly every Gazan city, starting in the north and moving slowly and steadily to the south. The indiscriminate Israeli military onslaught has destroyed mosques and churches. It has destroyed schools. It has destroyed hospitals. It has taken the lives of more than 26,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 60,000.
Most of the evidence is in the form of videos of the carnage that are being shared by Gazans on social media, with much of the mainstream news media being selective about what it broadcasts.
Entire cities have been crushed into rubble, with civilians under the destruction, raising serious questions as to whether the reported number of Palestinians killed is even near to the real figure.
We have seen instances where unarmed civilians, including women and children, have been shot dead by Israeli snipers, including while waving white flags.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that at least 83 journalists or media workers have been killed since Oct. 7. It also said that more journalists were killed in the first 10 weeks of the war than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year. The high number suggests that Arab journalists in Gaza are being targeted.
Yet, despite the weight of all this prima facie evidence, the Biden administration has taken a far different approach to the accusations of Palestinians than it has to the accusations made by Israel. In fact, even though the carnage inflicted on Palestinians is being investigated as a possible genocide, the Biden administration has unequivocally denounced such claims.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told a packed media briefing on Friday: “We have no indication that that’s going on. And we have no indication that they are deliberately trying to exterminate the people of Gaza … We haven’t seen indications that the Israel Defense Forces are getting up out of the rack every day, putting their boots on the floor, and saying that they’re designed — their whole effort is to go exterminate the Palestinian people. They’re trying to eliminate the threat that Hamas poses.”
Last November, Kirby said it was Hamas, not Israel, that had genocidal intent. “What Hamas wants, make no mistake about it, is genocide,” he said. “They want to wipe Israel off the map. They have said so, publicly, on more than one occasion. They have said they are not going to stop.”
Is it surprising that the Biden administration is now blasting the genocide charges filed against Israel at the International Court of Justice by South Africa and supported by nations across the world?
Is it surprising that, with only accusations from Israel that UNRWA employees engaged in the Oct. 7 violence, the US would suspend financial support to the agency and demand an investigation?
Biden has not asked for an investigation into what actually happened at the Nova music festival in Israel on Oct. 7.
The moral and ethical position for all sides to take is to demand investigations and denounce indiscriminate violence and the killing of civilians. They should denounce the torture of civilians, the rape of women, the butchering of babies, the killing of civilians, the killing of journalists, the destruction of homes and businesses, and the use of chemical weapons such as white phosphorus against civilian targets.
Biden does not need the facts when it comes to defending Israel. And he certainly does not care about the facts when it comes to the carnage of Palestinians. That is clear from every statement made by the president, Blinken, Kirby and members of the pro-Israel US Congress.