Daily Sabah – November 6, 2023
Israel ignores Gaza cease-fire calls as toll crosses 10,000 mark
The Palestinian death toll from Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip crossed the grim 10,000 mark on Monday, according to the Health Ministry.
The confirmation comes as Israel continued to ignore growing calls for a humanitarian cease-fire as it pounded Gaza with "significant" strikes Monday while claiming it has surrounded the besieged territory, splitting it in two.
Israeli troops and Hamas are engaged in house-to-house combat in densely populated Gaza, where the war has sent 1.5 million people fleeing to other parts of the territory in a desperate search for cover.
"This strike is like an earthquake," Gaza City resident Alaa Abu Hasera said, in a devastated area where entire blocks were reduced to rubble.
Israel launched a massive bombing campaign following the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion.
The Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 9,770 people, many of them women and children, have been killed in Israeli strikes and the intensifying ground campaign since the war began. Israeli casualties currently stand at around 1,550.
Israel has resisted calls for a halt in the fighting, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken touring the region calling for "pauses" while rejecting Arab countries' demands for a cease-fire.
Israeli troops now encircle Gaza City, effectively splitting the territory in two, with "significant" strikes carried out, army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said late Sunday.
Shortly before the strikes, internet and telephone lines were cut, Hagari said, adding that the strikes would continue in the days to come.
'Enough is enough'
Israel has distributed leaflets and sent text messages ordering Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza to head south, but a U.S. official said Saturday at least 350,000 civilians remain in the worst-hit areas.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry said 45 people were killed in Israeli strikes on a refugee camp in central Gaza, leaving people searching through the rubble.
"Are there any survivors?" shouted Said al-Najma, as he tried to shift the blocks of concrete strewn across the road in the camp.
"They brought down an entire street on the heads of women and children without any notice," he said.
Deepening the desperation in the crowded territory, the sole border crossing into Egypt was closed Sunday for a second day in a row, with Hamas suspending the evacuation of foreign passport holders after Israel refused to allow some wounded Palestinians to be evacuated.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed the closure, saying more than 1,100 people had been allowed out in the two days previous.
As international concern grows at mounting casualties, the heads of all major United Nations agencies issued a joint statement expressing outrage at the civilian death toll in Gaza and calling for an "immediate humanitarian cease-fire."
"For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiraling numbers of lives lost and torn apart," the U.N. chiefs said, including the heads of UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.
"We need an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. It's been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now."
The statement came as Blinken pressed a whirlwind Middle East tour focused on aid for the Palestinians, backing "humanitarian pauses" in the fighting – in a trip that has taken him to Israel and the occupied West Bank, as well as to Jordan, Iraq and Cyprus.
Blinken on Sunday went to the West Bank, where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas denounced "the genocide and destruction suffered by our Palestinian people in Gaza at the hands of Israel's war machine," the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
On Monday, Blinken holds tough talks in Türkiye in a bid to soothe the anger of one of Washington's most strategic but difficult allies about the bloodshed in Gaza.
NATO member Türkiye, which is allied to the Palestinians but also has ties with Israel, has said it is recalling its ambassador to Israel and breaking off contacts with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has remained firm on his position, vowing that "there won't be a cease-fire until the hostages are returned."
"Let them remove this from their lexicon. We are saying this to our enemies and to our friends," the right-wing premier said after meeting troops.
"We will simply continue until we win. We have no alternative."
Jordan's air force has air-dropped vital medical supplies to a field hospital in Gaza, King Abdullah II said Monday, adding that it was his country's "duty to aid our brothers and sisters injured in the war on Gaza."
Israel's army said it had "coordinated" with treaty ally Amman on the aid drop.
The war has exacerbated tensions in the West Bank, where more than 150 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces and settlers since the start of the war, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The Israeli military said Monday it had arrested Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, 22, in a raid in her West Bank town of Nabi Salih on suspicion of "inciting violence and terrorist activities."
Tamimi became prominent at age 14 when she was filmed biting an Israeli soldier to prevent him from arresting her younger brother, who was pinned to the ground while he had his arm in a cast.
She later became an icon of the Palestinian cause, and a large portrait of her was painted on the Israeli separation wall with the West Bank.
Wars in Gaza, Ukraine expose US foreign policy double standards
The stark contrast in Washington's response to Russia's war in Ukraine and the Israeli war on Gaza has exposed the double standards in its U.S. foreign policy.
While U.S. government officials do not hesitate to accuse, condemn and besiege Russia by imposing harsh sanctions because of Moscow’s "special military operation" in Ukraine, they take the opposite position regarding Israeli attacks on Gaza.
American officials make statements that implicitly suggest they view Israeli attacks as "legitimate acts," without a single condemnation.
Although the number of civilian casualties in Israel's bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in northern Gaza was much greater than losses in Russia's targeting of the Maternity Hospital in Mariupol on March 9, 2022, the U.S. administration did not show the same harsh reaction toward Tel Aviv, when compared to Russia.
The U.S. even neglected to hold Israel responsible for the hospital bombing.
Commenting on the targeting of the hospital in Mariupol, U.S. President Joe Biden said the attack was an "injustice" and a "disgrace to the entire world."
"The whole world is united to support Ukraine and make Russian President Vladimir Putin pay a heavy price," he said.
But after the attack on the hospital in Gaza, Biden said he was "deeply saddened by the explosion" at the facility.
"Based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," Biden said at a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, evidently referring to Israeli claims that Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group with similar aims as Hamas, was responsible.
Biden described what happened in Ukraine as "genocide," but deferred to reporters when asked about the Israeli war.
He described mass graves found in the Bucha region of Ukraine as "genocide" in a speech at a rally on April 12, 2022.
After the rally, a journalist asked: "Mr. President, have you seen enough evidence to declare genocide in Ukraine?"
His response: "I called it genocide because it's become clearer and clearer that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is just trying to wipe out even the idea of being Ukrainian. The evidence is mounting."
"We'll let the lawyers decide, internationally, whether or not it qualifies," he added, "but it sure seems that way to me."
Upon his return from his visit to Tel Aviv following the attack on Gaza, a journalist asked whether the Israelis were acting within the framework of the law of war. Biden, ignoring the question, said: "It was nice to talk to all of you," then he turned his back and left.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remained silent about the Israeli attack on the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital in Gaza, but in comments about Russia targeting the Mariupol Hospital, he confirmed that Moscow is "targeting theaters and hospitals."
He confirmed that Biden believes "war crimes are being committed in Ukraine," and "I agree with him on that," he said.
"Deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime," he said.
On the other hand, Blinken avoided condemning the attack on the Gaza hospital and did not issue a statement on the matter.
In a news conference on Oct. 20, Blinken did not address the issue of "war crimes" regarding civilians who died in the region and only held Hamas responsible for the deaths of civilians killed in Israeli attacks.
On Nov. 30, 2022, Blinken said: Vladimir Putin had focused "his ire and his fire" on Ukraine's civilian population.
"Heat, water, electricity, these are President Putin's new targets. He's hitting them hard. This brutalization of Ukraine's people is barbaric," he said following a two-day NATO summit.
"Our collective result to support Ukraine is and will continue to be ironclad. Now, throughout the winter, and for as long as it takes for Ukraine to succeed," he added.
In contrast, during a visit to Qatar on Oct. 13, Blinken avoided mentioning Israel's cutting off of electricity, fuel and water from Gaza.
He held Hamas responsible for Israel's targeting infrastructure in the Strip, and accused it of "using civilians as human shields."
White House officials have taken differing positions on attacks on hospitals in Ukraine and Gaza.
Regarding the bombing of the Mariupol Hospital, White House spokeswoman at the time, Jen Psaki, described the Russian bombing as "terrifying" and "barbaric," and indicated it constituted a "war crime."
However, regarding the bombing of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza, no condemnation was issued by White House officials.
White House National Council spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, merely said information they have indicates that "Israel is not responsible for the attack on the hospital."
Killing of journalists
A clear difference emerged in the response of U.S. officials to Russia and Israel regarding the targeting of journalists.
Following the killing of American journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine, then-U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said: "We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers – noncombatants – have been killed and injured in Ukraine by Kremlin forces."
But current spokesman, Matthew Miller, did not condemn Israel for the killing of 36 journalists to date as a result of Israeli bombing.
In a news conference on Oct. 26, Miller simply stressed that "the United States government pays special respect to journalists who put themselves in harm’s way to let the world know what is happening and to bring information to the world."
"So obviously we mourn the death of those journalists. It is a great tragedy," he added.
Reporters Without Borders announced that ballistic analysis of the incident in which Reuters photographer Issam Abdullah was killed on the Lebanese-Israeli border showed there had been a "deliberate attack" by Israel, however, this did not attract any American condemnation.
There is no 'Palestinian issue' but an 'Israeli issue'
Turkish Communications Director Altun's statement calls for a change in the global narrative surrounding the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he emphasises that "it affects not only the Middle East but the entire world."
Türkiye's Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has delivered a speech at the TRT World Citizen Humanitarian Film Festival, emphasising the global responsibility to address humanitarian crises.
"Reports and maintained statistics, regardless of their significance, are inadequate in alleviating the suffering of disadvantaged and oppressed individuals; instead, it is the narratives found in cinema films and artworks that possess the power to genuinely touch our hearts," he said on Sunday.
Turkish Communications Director Altun has called for a paradigm shift in the way the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is understood. He emphasised that the problem, often known as the "Palestinian issue," should instead be recognised as the "Israeli issue."
"Today, we are here to proclaim the true name of this problem to the world, which for years has been referred to as 'the Palestinian issue.' The name of this problem is 'the Israeli issue,'" Altun said, adding that "not only the Middle East, not only our region, but the whole world is facing this issue."
He further acknowledged that while Türkiye has taken courageous steps to confront these challenges, some have remained passive in the face of humanitarian crises, emphasising the urgency of global cooperation.
"Some countries fail to show the courage to face this issue, also turning a blind eye to it, but Türkiye is at the forefront," he said.
"As long as the Israeli problem is ignored, this historically growing crisis will continue to escalate and threaten humanity further."
Russia says West is pushing Middle East to brink of a ‘big war’
By Burc Eruygur
The Russian foreign minister on Monday said the West is pushing the Middle East region to the brink of a “big war,” leading to a surge in terrorism and refugee flows.
“Now we see how the Anglo-Saxons are literally pushing the Middle East to the brink of a big war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a panel discussion during the Russia International Exhibition and Forum in Moscow.
Lavrov went on to argue that this approach used by the West is “fully manifested” in Ukraine, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
“Other results of such a policy are a surge in terrorism and extremism, broken human destinies, destroyed families, millions-strong flows of refugees,” he added.
Lavrov said the West is accustomed to “solving its own problems at the expense of others, to exploiting other people’s resources.”
He argued that NATO is a “relic of the past,” adding that the alliance is “spreading its tentacles” all over the world which may lead it to “overstrain” itself.
“You can’t so brazenly and persistently impose your hegemony on everyone, times are not the same,” he said.
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