The terrible gun battle in Gaza unfolds on an uneven deathfield

Armed conflict, Featured, Featured, Human rights, Humanitarian emergencies, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Middle East and North Africa, Regional categories, TerraViva United Nations

The intensification of hostilities in the Gaza Strip resulted in heavy casualties and large-scale displacement. More than 50 children have been killed in the current Middle East crisis, a senior United Nations official said on May 15. Credit: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

UNITED NATIONS, May 17, 2021 (IPS) – In most civil wars and military conflicts across the politically unstable Middle East, including Syria, Yemen and Palestine, the ongoing battles are being fought not on a level playing field, but on a ground unequal death.

And this is even truer in the current fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, described as “carnage in the Middle East” where children are among the civilians killed in airstrikes. The fighting is largely a battle of weapons: sophisticated, state-of-the-art fighter jets supplied by the United States against homemade rockets and mortars.

The overwhelming Israeli firepower that continues to unleash itself on the Palestinians – which has so far killed 192, including 58 children, in a week of confrontation – is perhaps reminiscent of the Algerian War of Independence (1954 -1962) when France, a colonial power, used its vastly superior military force to retaliate against the insurgents with brutal ferocity.

While France was accused of using its air force to napalmer civilians in the countryside, Algerians were accused of using homemade bombs hidden in women’s handbags and left surreptitiously in cafes, restaurants and public places frequented by French nationals living in occupied territory.

In one of the memorable scenes from the 1967 Oscar-winning film classic “The Battle of Algiers”, which recreated Algeria’s War of Independence, a handcuffed leader of the National Liberation Front (NLF) , Ben M’Hidi, is brought before a group of highly partisan French journalists for questioning.

One of the journalists asks M’Hidi, “Don’t you think it’s a bit cowardly to use women’s handbags and baskets to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people?” [in cafes and night clubs?]

Responding with as much frankness, the Algerian insurgent retorts: “And doesn’t it seem even more cowardly to you to drop napalm bombs on unarmed villages on a thousand times more innocent victims?”

“Of course, if we had your fighter planes, it would be a lot easier for us,” he adds. “Give us your bombers and you can have our purses and baskets.”

Perhaps, in the current confrontation, it would be interesting to see the roles reversed: the Palestinians with American fighter jets and battle tanks and the Israelis with rockets and homemade mortars,

In addition to the F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the Israelis also use a wide range of American weapons, including Apache helicopters, M60 battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery.

Israel’s prodigious military strength and economic stability are largely attributed to unlimited US economic and military aid from successive US administrations and backed by US politicians.

On May 16 alone, 33 Palestinians were killed, in what has been described as “the single deadliest airstrike” by the Israelis. But, for the moment, and despite a meeting of the Security Council, nothing indicates an end to the killings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said: “We will do whatever it takes to restore order and calm.”

According to a New York Times report, Israeli intelligence officials have estimated that Palestinian militants, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have access to around 30,000 rockets and mortar projectiles stashed in Gaza, most made in Gaza with the Iran’s technical expertise. Rocket attacks have so far killed 10 people.

Asked about Israel’s huge military arsenal, Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher, arms and military spending program at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) told IPS that the United States was by far the largest supplier of weapons of Israel since the 1970s.

He pointed out that for the past five years, uninterrupted U.S. supplies have included F-35 fighter jets (described as the most advanced advanced fighter aircraft), F-15C fighter jets and thousands of guided bombs and armored vehicles.

Purchases of these weapons (and similar weapons before), he said, are funded by the more than $ 3 billion in annual military aid the United States provides to finance the purchase of weapons. by Israel.

In addition, the United States is also funding and providing technical contribution to the development of missile defense systems by Israel, especially those that have been used so intensively in recent days. The United States also supplies Israel with a range of other military equipment, from trucks and rifles to spare parts for old equipment supplied by the United States, Wezeman said.

A Reuters news agency report in September 2016 said the United States had agreed to provide Israel with a staggering $ 38 billion in military aid over the next decade, described as “the largest aid program of this type in the history of the United States, as part of a historic agreement signed by the two countries ”. .

The $ 38 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covered the 2019-2028 U.S. fiscal years and replaced the $ 30 billion Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2007 (which expired at the end of fiscal 2018) .

At the same time, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told a Security Council meeting on May 16: “The current hostilities are absolutely appalling. This latest wave of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes further on the horizon any hope of coexistence and peace. “

The fighting must stop. It must stop immediately, he urged. Rockets and mortars on one side and aerial and artillery bombardments on the other must cease. “I call on all parties to answer this call.” The United Nations, he said, is actively engaging all parties in favor of an immediate ceasefire.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the 15 Council members that “the United States has worked tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try to end this conflict because we believe that Israelis and Palestinians also have the right to live in safety. and security. “

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired the meeting as Chairman of the Council for the month of May, said, “We call on the United States to shoulder its responsibilities, take a just stance and, with the Most of the international community, support the Security Council to alleviate the situation. “

Asked about secondary arms suppliers to Israel, Wezeman of SIPRI chose Germany and Italy.

He said that Germany provided engines for the Israel-made Merkava tanks (the engines are really assembled in the United States so that Israel can acquire them with American financial aid) and torpedoes for the submarines. that Germany provided earlier.

An additional German submarine is slated for delivery this year, while a contract for three more is apparently still under negotiation. Germany is also in the process of delivering four frigates to Israel, which will be equipped with Israeli combat systems.

Italy supplied eight advanced military training aircraft to Israel 2016-2020 (in addition to 22 delivered five years earlier). These are used to prepare and train the pilots who will fly the fighter jets supplied by the United States.

Asked about advanced US weapon systems in the Israeli military arsenal, Wezeman said US-supplied fighter jets, especially F-16s and F-15s, and US guided munitions have played a central role in Israel’s military actions in Gaza and elsewhere (including Syria and Lebanon).

The most advanced weapon the United States is providing to Israel is the F-35 fighter jet, a few of which were delivered just a few weeks ago. Of the 50 ordered, around 31 have been delivered to date, while more are expected to be ordered.

However, these planes are designed to attack targets deep within well-defended enemy territory, for example targets deep within Syria. So they may not have seen much or any use in the past few days, he said.

Thalif Deen is a former Director of Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services; Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; and Middle East / Africa Military Writer at Jane’s Information Group. He is the author of a recently published book on the United Nations titled “No Comment – and Don’t Quote Me on That”, from which this article is adapted. Published by Amazon, the book is peppered with dozens of anecdotes – from the serious to the hilarious. The link to Amazon through the author’s website follows:

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