Politics Aside: Where is the Humanity for the Gaza Strip?

For the past 48 hours, the Israeli army has escalated air and ground attacks against the Gaza Strip, killing Palestinian men, women and children. Israel is claiming these attacks are about going after militants, but in reality it’s about assassination of Palestinian leaders, destruction of Gazan infrastructure and the gross killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and children.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom stated Israel is prepared to escalate the attacks against Gaza should they deem it necessary. Unfortunately, Israel’s military machine is getting the green light from the US administration to continue its attack on Gaza.

With the recent re-election of President Barack Obama, Americans are expecting that he step up and do what is right for America and her security. It’s time our nation stand against oppressive tactics used in the Occupied Territories cloaked as national security measures. To that end, a group of 15 prominent American Christian leaders wrote a historic letter to Congress asking them to question America’s use of military aid to countries, such as Israel, when that aid assists human rights violations committed against Palestinians. Plain and simple: Every time Israel uses American weapons against civilian populations, both the U.S. and Israel are in violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits sales of US weapons to countries that target civilian populations.

It is refreshing to hear a perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian issue that looks at the humanitarian aspect of the decades-long conflict. The letter calls on Congress to immediately “investigate into possible violations by Israel” of U.S. laws that govern the use of foreign assistance and arms exports and withhold military aid if Israel is found to be in violation of these laws. While we may find it morally incumbent to provide aid to other nations, shouldn’t we abide by responsible guidelines that put checks in place if that aid is used against civilians?

Obama has four more years as the elected leader of our nation. Rather than capitulating to a foreign government that is bent on aggression, he should be meeting with human rights activists, religious leaders, student groups and the international community who are calling for the U.S. to stand up for America’s interests against any and all human rights abuses.

Politics aside, the world must realize that innocent civilians on both sides of the conflict are dying. Focusing on the human rights violations, as well as the desperate need for humanitarian efforts, is paramount to geopolitical realities. Working toward finding positive solutions on the humanitarian crisis should become top priority for the international community. Other countries have already taken action. Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel and the French Foreign Ministry spokesperson urged both parties to refrain from any escalation of violence.

With no end in sight and the internal strife escalating in Syria, the attacks on Gaza seem to have commenced at a time when the world was focusing on other devastating situations. However, the Israeli army seems to have overlooked an important point: being in such an unstable region with global interest ensures that eyes are always on the Middle East. The Israeli government cannot continue to get away with its aggressive nature on an already impoverished minority.

It is time America reclaims her policies with a moral foundation. The world is looking to us to be a leader and move forward in resolving such a concerning and devastating situation. While shifting our focus to humanitarian policies, we should also refrain from providing counterproductive aid that assists in widespread human rights violations.

[Contact: Hoda Elshishtawy, Legislative and Policy Analyst, (202) 547-7701,]

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