Punitive silence

July 10, 2014 - 2:16:45 am

The double standards of the West on the collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel are painfully evident in the latest hostilities. 

The killing of three Israeli teens by Palestinians was a crime that deserved the strongest condemnation. And it was condemned, including by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The killing of teens and the subsequent burning to death of a Palestinian boy by Israelis received extensive global media coverage, but the punitive and extraordinarily disproportionate air strikes launched by the Israeli government on Gaza, which has already claimed fifty Palestinian lives in two days, have failed to receive adequate media coverage and have largely been dubbed as Israeli reaction to Palestinian rocket attacks.

As Israel continues to unleash its most advanced weapons on hapless Palestinians, the international community, especially the Western media, has chosen to look the other way. These double standards were evident in a BBC headline, which was exposed by sections of the British media as highly biased against Palestinians. “Israel under renewed Hamas attack”, the BBC said on the escalating bloodshed in Gaza. “It is as perverse as Mike Tyson punching a toddler, followed by a headline claiming that the child spat at him,” said a writer in The Guardian. The unfortunate truth is that the Israeli life is considered more valuable by Western media than Palestinian lives. Among those fifty killed so far are seventeen women and children, and more than 500 people have been injured, some of them seriously. The toll is likely to soar as Israel shows no signs of cooling down and the violence is building up to the most serious hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza since an eight-day war in 2012.

Any Palestinian attack or killing of any Israeli serves as an excuse for Israel to punish the entire Palestinian community. This collective punishment is largely condoned by the international community, while Arabs are always helpless observers whose lone reaction is to call for UN action and restraint. It’s not Palestinians and their supporters who are protesting this collective punishment. Several independent human rights organizations, especially the Human Rights Watch, have spoken the truth.  The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is riding a wave of public anger caused by the death of Israelis, which he exploiting to punish Hamas. 

The international community needs to act in haste to prevent further bloodshed. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to brief the UN Security Council on Thursday on the escalating hostilities, which he described as a “troubling and volatile” situation. The 15-member body will meet at 10am (1400 GMT) on Thursday to discuss the violence. The UN chief spent yesterday speaking with regional and world leaders, including Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and other Arab leaders. But precious time has already been lost.