GAZA – Over the weekend, outrage took hold as the state of Israel authorized more than 100 snipers to fire upon the demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. The Palestinians, participating in the “March of Great Return” to demand the right for exiled Palestinians to return to their ancestral lands, were fired upon while fleeing and even praying. 17 Palestinians were killed and over 1,400 were injured. The Gaza Health Ministry stated that most of the reported injuries were bullet wounds to the legs and feet. The Israeli Defense Forces stated on Twitter that they were fully aware of where “every bullet landed” and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the snipers “did what had to be done” and “deserve a commendation.”
The outrage, however, was confined to only a few countries as, throughout the West, the horrific event was the subject of slanted reports — such as those that portrayed the Israeli military firing on unarmed demonstrators as “clashes” — or was not even covered at all. Despite the number of people killed and the flagrant violation of international law, the story didn’t even make the Sunday edition of The New York Times, the U.S.’ “paper of record.”
Two days ago, the US-backed Israeli army fired on Palestinian marchers in Gaza, killing 16 & wounding more than 1,400. Today, in the Sunday edition of “Newspaper of Record” @nytimes , there is not a single article on this massacre in the front, op-ed, or any other section: pic.twitter.com/g72yohqAlv
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) April 1, 2018
Because massacring innocent civilians marching for their freedom can be like going on a blind date — when your date's plans are vague, you get jittery and start guessing when they're going to arrive. https://t.co/xxXPekuIYT
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) April 2, 2018
If one momentarily forgets the U.S.-Israel “special relationship,” the lack of coverage and excuse-making for the massacre in the Western press compared to that greeting similar events that have occurred in recent years is obvious. Indeed, in recent years, protests that have been similar in size to, or even much smaller than, what recently occurred along the Israel-Gaza border have often been used as the springboard for U.S.-backed operations to foment dissent and push for regime change – both covertly and overtly.
Protests and atrocities through both ends of the media telescope
Earlier this year, protests related to economic discontent in Iran were plastered across Western media, despite the fact that the protests were relatively small and fizzled out in about a week. In a five-day period, an estimated 13 protesters were killed as was a police officer. This is significantly fewer than those who were killed this past weekend in Gaza in a much shorter time frame.
The protests in Iran led to calls in U.S. media for financially backing and arming the protesters — including from soon-to-be National Security Adviser John Bolton — and calls were also made to “zealously support” the unrest. Eventually, the U.S. State Department spent over $1 million to exploit the protests and push for regime change.
Notice how none of the think tankers and pundits are calling to “arm the Palestinians.”
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) April 1, 2018
While the protests in Iran inspired failed efforts to support the opposition and calls for regime change, such efforts have been successful in other cases, leading to the overthrow of governments and subsequent destruction of countries. For instance, in Libya in 2011, then-leader Muammar Gaddafi was accused of “killing his own people” after protests swept through the nation as part of the Arab Spring. The Gaddafi-led government fired on the protesters, many of whom were armed, resulting in a death toll comparable to those that occurred between the IDF and unarmed Palestinians. However, evidence later emerged that the protesters in Libya were funded, armed and controlled by foreign countries and expat opposition groups that long-sought regime change in Libya.
As a result of the charge that Gaddafi was “killing his own people,” the U.S., U.K. and France pushed for a UN Security Council resolution that resulted in a “no-fly zone” over Libya to “protect civilians,” which in turn was quickly followed by a NATO-backed bombing campaign. The support for Libya’s “freedom fighters” led to Gaddafi’s overthrow, drastically worsening the European migrant crisis and transforming Libya from Africa’s richest nation to a country that is still without a functional national government, and where the slave and illegal-arms trades as well as terrorism dominate.
Phrases that won’t be uttered in relation to the Gaza massacre: “Humanitarian Intervention”, “No Fly Zone”, “Responsibility to Protect”, “Regime Change”, “Sanctions”, “National Security Council Resolution”, “Netanyahu Must Go”.
— Martin Larner (@MartinLarner) April 1, 2018
A similar charge was leveled against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, when charges that Assad was also “killing his own people” led the U.S. and other Western countries, as well as the Gulf monarchies and Israel, to fund the “rebels” in an attempt to remove Assad from power. When protesters became armed and increasingly violent, the crackdown against them was used to push for regime change, a long-term U.S. goal in the region. However, those initial protests, beginning in the city of Dara’a, were — as in Libya — part of a foreign-funded operation to covertly foster regime change.
A year after, while the U.S. and others spent hundred of millions of dollars funding “rebel” groups — many of which committed atrocities and pledged allegiance to terrorist organizations — calls were made to place an arms embargo on Palestinians, particularly in Gaza.
The arming of the “rebels” in Syria has resulted in more than half a million dead, the destruction of several cities, and millions of refugees. However, Assad remains in power despite continuing efforts by the U.S., Israel and others to see him ousted.
The “humanitarian” mask
Nevertheless there are no efforts to hold Israel to account for its recent massacre of civilians. Instead, Israel has rejected UN and EU calls for an inquiry into the killings and a UN Security Council resolution on the matter was blocked by the United States. The U.S. continues to supply the Israeli government with $10 million in military aid every day. Interestingly, no calls for inquiry were made by EU governments over the recent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in the U.K. Instead of waiting for an investigation, several countries expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for the act, despite doubts surrounding Russia’s culpability. Those European politicians who did call for an inquiry were ridiculed in the press as “puppets” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, when over a thousand unarmed Palestinians are shot, the EU needs an investigation to prove that Israel was responsible, despite IDF admissions that it knew where “every bullet landed.”
Sadly, such blatant hypocrisy is unsurprising. The “humanitarian” concern of the U.S. and its allies is all too often a cover for regime change ambitions or something similar. Brutal crackdowns on protests occur in countries around the world, yet the corporate media consider such events newsworthy only when they can be exploited to advance U.S. geopolitical goals.
As a result, until something drastically changes, the Western world will remain indifferent to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza. While the killings of unarmed protesters are horrific, they are only the latest attack against the 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Strip. The decade-long blockade, which has turned Gaza into a massive open air prison, the wanton destruction of its infrastructure and the slaughter of its men, women and children have become par for the course in the U.S.’s and Israel’s ultimate goal of imperial expansion. Both countries have shown time and again that they only respect innocent lives when it furthers their goals.
Top Photo | Teargas canisters fired from Israeli drones fall on Palestinians during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip border with Israel, in eastern Gaza City, Friday, March 30, 2018. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.