Don’t be fooled by Biden’s latest humanitarian initiative for Gaza

Don’t be fooled by Biden’s latest humanitarian initiative for Gaza

In his State of the Union speech, President Biden presented a plan to deliver aid by sea to the starving population in Gaza as a demonstration of American leadership:

Tonight, I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters.

No U.S. boots will be on the ground.

This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day.

But Israel must also do its part.

Israel must allow more aid into Gaza and ensure that humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the cross fire.

To the leadership of Israel I say this.

Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.

Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority.

In reality, leadership on this initiative came from Cyprus as was reported last year.

On November 9, Politico reported:

Cyprus’ 25-page long plan, called Amalthea Initiative (named after the foster mother of Zeus in Greek mythology) outlines how humanitarian aid would be collected in an operations center based in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca, which has a port and airport, and where a coordination center with 33 countries is already operating.

Aid would be collected, inspected and stored in Cyprus and then sent to Gaza on vessels checked daily by a joint committee including Israel. The vessels would be accompanied by warships to a designated spot identified on the coast of Gaza, from where it would be sent to a safe, neutral area.

According to a statement by the Cypriot presidency, “A concrete plan for the implementation of the initiative has already been prepared with immediate, medium and long-term solutions and technical arrangements.”

The Biden administration has ensured that the Israelis will retain ample opportunities to impede the delivery of aid by sea, just as they continue to block it coming through land crossings. The White House says:

We will coordinate with the Israelis on the security requirements on land, and work with the U.N. and humanitarian NGOs on the distribution of assistance within Gaza. Initial shipments will come via Cyprus, enabled by the U.S. military and a coalition of partners and allies.

This new significant capability will take a number of weeks to plan and execute.

Weeks to plan and execute, even though this plan has been in the pipeline for the past four months!

And as Julian Borger notes:

Israeli inspectors will be in the Cypriot port of Larnaca, scrutinising cargoes of aid going into southern Gaza, and the inspections will provide Israel a tool with which to regulate the flow in the name of security vetting.

The Times of Israel reports on the obstacles to aid delivery and distribution that have already been created by the Israelis:

The UN charges that Israeli restrictions have handcuffed their efforts. One UN diplomat cited an instance in which a truck full of aid was ordered to turn around because an Israeli inspector spotted sleeping bags that were green — the color of Hamas’s flag. A spokesman for Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusation.

More damaging to the humanitarian effort, however, has been the breakdown of law and order in Gaza.

Israel began more aggressively implementing a policy in recent weeks that has seen it target Hamas-linked police officers who have been tasked with securing the aid convoys, a US official said.

Roughly a dozen officers have been killed, leading police to cease securing the convoys. Israel has said the Hamas-linked police are legitimate targets, but the US official criticized the IDF for carrying out the strikes without having an alternative plan in place for how aid will be distributed.

Biden can say that Israel “must” make protecting and saving innocent lives a priority, yet Israeli leaders have made it abundantly clear that continuation of the war is their highest priority. As the New York Times reports:

“It is precisely when the international pressure increases that we must close ranks among ourselves,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech Thursday. “We must stand together against the attempts to stop the war.”

He added that Rafah was the “last Hamas stronghold.”

“Whoever tells us not to operate in Rafah, is telling us to lose the war — and that will not happen,” he said.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, also signaled Israel’s willingness to continue fighting Hamas on Thursday. “Surrender or death,” he was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying. “There is no third option.”

In Israel’s genocidal war against the whole population of Gaza, obstacles to the distribution of aid are not a product of over-zealous security measures. On the contrary, they seem designed to fuel the breakdown of society by:

1. restricting aid entering Gaza, then
2. sabotaging the distribution of aid, then
3. bombing or shooting the starving recipients of aid.

In whatever terms this course of action may or may not some day be legally defined by the International Court of Justice, it constitutes a campaign of sadistic revenge.

In the name of destroying Hamas, Israel is pursuing a war of extermination, destroying housing, hospitals, schools, universities, mosques and other cultural sites, and agriculture, while killing or maiming a generation of children, as though there might be a requisite quanta of violence through which the very identity of being Palestinian could be eradicated.

But since Israel still enjoys the political protection through which Western states immunize each other from harsh judgement, it remains several steps away from the pariah status it has already undoubtedly earned.

Joe Biden still presents himself as a champion of democracy and yet whatever moral authority he may once have possessed, he has willfully thrown away in Gaza.

He says, “We’ve been working non-stop to establish an immediate ceasefire that would last for at least six weeks,” and yet he still refuses to exercise the very real power he possesses to impose a ceasefire: cut off Israel’s supply of weapons.

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