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90 Palestinians, 0 Israelis Die, But Obama Fights UN Condemnation of Israel’s Air War (Updated)

7:44 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

A photo of the U.N. Security Council chambers.

Will the U.N. Security Council condemn Israel’s air offensive on Gaza?

Should the headline be “76 Gaza Dead But _U.S._ Fights UN Condemnation“? (Updated to 90 at 7:45 p.m. ET, see comment 12). No, I don’t think so, the buck stops at President Obama’s desk. Here’s the news about maneuvering against possible UN condemnation of the bombing (whose victims are 80% civilians):

Jerusalem and Washington are trying to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israel’s air offensive in the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of Palestinian civilians have been killed, Israeli diplomats said Thursday. The Security Council is due to meet at 10 A.M. New York time to discuss the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

…Israeli diplomats say the United States is working with the council’s members, particularly Jordan, to ensure that the panel does not condemn Israel. Jordan represents the Arab countries in the Security Council.

Note that the UN deliberations are happening more or less now, as I write this. More news on the civilian killing:

Medical officials in Hamas-dominated Gaza said at least 60 civilians, including a four-year-old girl and boy, aged 5 who were killed on Thursday, were among the 76 Palestinians who have died in Israeli attacks since Tuesday.

…’The Jews say they are fighting Hamas and fighting gunmen while all the bodies we have seen on television are those of women and children,’ said Khaled Ali, 45, a Gaza taxi driver.

Rocket salvoes on Israel – the military said 442 projectiles have been fired since Tuesday, including nearly 100 on Thursday alone – have caused no fatalities or serious injuries.

Why Is It Happening?

Of course we don’t know, but a UK Guardian analyst has this well-informed take: IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis. The article’s subheading: “Israel’s defence minister has confirmed that military plans to ‘uproot Hamas’ are about dominating Gaza’s gas reserves.” This is the kind of sensible, evidence-rich, ‘follow the money’ analysis that generally works for me…

Of course, the war can also be seen as normal national politics in Israel. Netanyahu has been pressured from the far right, after the killing of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestine, to kill Arabs. So, he is doing so. That’s the kind of country Israel is. Of course, the entire very well-publicized “search for three kidnapped teenagers” story was artificial in the extreme, and apparently employed precisely to whip up the ‘kill Arabs’ frenzy that then ostensibly pressed Netanyahu to do just that. So, I don’t buy the ‘he was pressured from the far right’ reasoning.

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53 Palestinians, 0 Israelis Die in Air and Missile Strikes …

5:54 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Smoke rises from Palestinian buildings after air strikes.

Is the US media biased in its reports on Israeli airstrikes?

And yet still we get obscene propaganda from the mainstream ‘news’ masquerading as a headline:

Gaza rockets land deep in Israel as it bombards Palestinian enclave

The Reuters article above, with its propaganda headline, reports that 37 53 (see comment 39) Palestinians have died so far, but differing data on the dead and injured is provided in a more balanced article in the Guardian:

The air assault continued throughout Wednesday morning bringing the Palestinian death toll to 32 in two days, including several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. More than 150 people have been injured. There have been about 440 air strikes since the beginning of the week.

Palestinian medics in Gaza City said two women and four children had been killed in strikes in the north and east of the city near the border with Israel on Wednesday morning.

‘Four Palestinians were killed in air strikes, including two brothers who are 12 and 13 years old in Shejaiya, while a four-year-old boy and a woman were killed in a raid on Zeitun,’ emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told Agence France-Presse.

The Guardian reports that the U.S., which means Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, supports without reservation the air war on a largely defenseless population:

The White House condemned the rocket attacks against Israel. ‘No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks,’ said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Oh of course, the Gazans are vicious for killing no one, but ‘no comment’ on the Israeli air strikes that have killed 29 civilians according to Reuters.

I bet most Americans oppose Israel’s deadly civilian-killing response to being attacked by so far harmless unguided missiles. They would oppose Israel’s actions even more strongly if they were allowed to read and listen to unbiased/balanced news reports in/on the mainstream media. The thing is, I wish it weren’t an issue of whether the U.S. ‘supports’ or ‘doesn’t support’ Israel’s actions. My question is, why are we giving Israel so much money every year? Can’t we find more deserving nations for our charity?

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123 civilians, 3 al Qaeda DRONED in January, 17 more dead today

12:46 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

If the new administration is keenly interested in reversing the misfortunes of that region, it has to understand the uniqueness of every country and appreciate the untold harm inflicted on civilians by the US and other militaries. Only dialogue and truly respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan can begin to stabilise the fractious situation.

Ramzy Baroud, May 14, 2009

U.S. drones killed 123 Pakistani civilians and three al Qaeda in January, the largest death toll ever for a single month. 17 more died today, some low-level militants, most civilians. Apparently the sharp increase in drone attacks is motivated by revenge, for the late December suicide attack that killed seven CIA drone-targeting experts in Afghanistan. All this in the context of the just-released Pentagon budget, which features a 75% increase in funding for drone production and operations.

What a moral low America has reached, to be doing what we are doing to Pakistan’s innocent civilians. But the perp country’s people and media ignore the crime because, after all, no Americans are dying. Admittedly, we seemingly have no control, so what is the point of protesting? So a quiet but ugly war guided by the lowest of motives, simple revenge, takes over, bullies against bullies, civilians be damned.

US drones killed 123 civilians, three al-Qaeda men in January
Monday, February 01, 2010
By Amir Mir

LAHORE: Afghanistan-based US predators carried out a record number of 12 deadly missile strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan in January 2010, of which 10 went wrong and failed to hit their targets, killing 123 innocent Pakistanis. The remaining two successful drone strikes killed three al-Qaeda leaders, wanted by the Americans.

The rapid increase in the US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan can be gauged from the fact that only two such strikes were carried out in January 2009, which killed 36 people. The highest number of drone attacks carried out in a single month in 2009 was six, which were conducted in December last year. . . .

The unprecedented rise in the predator strikes with the beginning of the year 2010 is being attributed to December 30, 2009 suicide bombing in the Khost area of Afghanistan bordering North Waziristan, which killed seven CIA agents. . . .

Today’s toll is 17, from a massive attack on obscure, impoverished villages. Again, revenge seemed to be the motive, for shooting down a drone a few days ago. Imagine that, the audacity of shooting down a missile that is seeking to kill you?

17 die as drones rain 18 missiles on NWA
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
By Malik Mumtaz & Mushtaq Yusufzai

MIRAMSHAH/PESHAWAR: In the biggest attack so far by the American spy planes in the Pakistani tribal areas, the US drones on Tuesday rained a barrage of missiles on different locations of Dattakhel Tehsil of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), killing 17 people, including militants, and injuring several others.

Government officials in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan, said nine spy planes took part in the brazen attack, firing 18 missiles and causing heavy human loss.

They feared the death toll could rise as rescue work could not be started in some of the places due to fear of more missile strikes by the unmanned spy aircraft. Besides the militants, several villagers were said to be among the victims. The villagers came under attack from the drones while approaching the spot to help retrieve the bodies and the injured from the rubble of the collapsed houses. . . .

An intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that the drones mostly targeted small posts set up by the militants. He said it appeared the US forces in Afghanistan wanted to avenge the loss of their drone, which the militants had allegedly shot down in the same area a few days ago.

He said initial reports indicated that most of the people killed in Tuesday’s missile strikes were either low-level militants or poor villagers. “I did not hear that any big name had died,” he claimed. It was the biggest missile attack by the CIA-operated spy planes in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Baroud in the quote at the top of this diary is right. And so is John Arquilla. The drone war is creating more war and hatred in Pakistan, plain and simple, and Obama has learned nothing except avoid American casualties from his predecessor.

. . . John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School who frequently advises the military, said, “The more the drone campaign works, the more it fails — as increased attacks only make the Pakistanis angrier at the collateral damage and sustained violation of their sovereignty.”

If the United States expands the drone strikes beyond the lawless tribal areas to neighboring Baluchistan, as is under discussion, the backlash “might even spark a social revolution in Pakistan,” Mr. Arquilla said.

And it will only get much worse. . . .

US plans 75% increase in drone operations
By Anwar Iqbal
Wednesday, 03 Feb, 2010

WASHINGTON: The US defence budget for 2011 seeks more funds to enhance drone operations by 75 per cent, citing its success in targeting militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt.

“With this funding, we will increase the unmanned Predator and Reaper orbits from 37 to 65, while enhancing our ability to process, exploit and disseminate information gathered by this game-changing technology,” said Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. . . .

On Monday afternoon, the Pentagon sent a $708 billion defence budget proposal to Congress, reflecting a shift in the US military strategy from conventional wars to counter-insurgency. . . .

Although the $3.8 trillion budget President Obama announced on Monday is the third budget in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion, it boosts the defence outlay by 3.4 per cent over the 2010 enacted level.

The following report indicates the Obama administration wants to double production of drones:

Obama’s Budget Calls for Billions in New Spending for Drones
Tuesday 02 February 2010
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

. . . Aside from the size of the defense budget, another controversial aspect of it is what it will fund. More than $2 billion will be used to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which the Obama administration has used increasingly over the past year to target suspected terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones, which the administration wants to double in production, have been blamed for a significant rise in civilian casualties. . . .

For the first time, according to The Los Angeles Times, the Air Force is proposing the purchase of more drones than combat aircraft and will double the production of the MQ-9 Reaper, "a bigger, more heavily armed version of the Predator drone, to 48. The Army will also buy 26 extended-range Predators."

"The expansion will allow the military to increase unmanned patrols – the number of planes in the air at once – to 65, up from its current limit of 37," The Los Angeles Times noted.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Monday that the use of drones will continue to increase "even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan eventually wind down."

"The more we have used them, the more we have identified their potential in a broader and broader set of circumstances," Gates said.
Spending on the Predator and Reaper drones will jump from $877.5 million in 2010 to $1.4 billion next year.

BTW, drone strikes had already set a record in 2009, Obama’s first year a huge increase over the number of attacks in 2008. Change We Believe In?

US Killed 700 Civilians in Pakistan Drone Strikes in 2009
by Jason Ditz, January 02, 2010

On January 1, 2009, a US drone strike killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders, the first in what then President-elect Barack Obama had said would be a dramatic escalation of the aerial bombardment of Pakistan’s tribal area.

And escalate it did. The US launched 44 distinct drone strikes in Pakistan in 2009, far more than in previous years. The pinnacle of America’s drone achievements was in August, when they killed Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Much has been made of the successes, but while the strikes have been regular and they almost always are presented by Pakistan’s intelligence community as having killed “suspects,” the actual successes are few and far between, with only five confirmed kills of real militant leaders, and a handful of unconfirmed claims that usually haven’t panned out.

The vast majority of the deaths, around 700 according to one estimate, have been innocent civilians. With such a massive civilian toll and so little to show for it, it is no wonder that Pakistani people have been up in arms over the continued strikes.