US response to Israel-Hamas war sparks anger in Middle East | ET REALITY


President Biden’s trip to Israel on Wednesday will place him in a region where pain and anger are growing, not only toward Israel, but also toward the United States, the world power that has declared its unwavering support for its main ally in the Middle East. .

On Tuesday, widespread condemnation of Israel spread across the region after a massive explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip killed hundreds of Palestinians seeking treatment and shelter. Israel has denied being behind the explosion and blames a Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, for the failed rocket launch.

But even before that, many people across the region had come to see Israel’s war against Hamas (the Palestinian armed group that carried out a shocking attack in southern Israel more than a week ago, killing 1,400 people). as a US-backed massacre of Palestinians. civilians in the blockaded territory of Gaza.

Israel cut off water, medicine and electricity to the enclave and continued to attack Gaza with deadly airstrikes, raising the death toll to at least 2,800 before the hospital explosion.

Many Arabs see the US government as not only indifferent to the agony of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, but also complicit in it. American promises ofbattleship“support for the country – and Without conditions security assistance—have stoked those feelings as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza.

“There is tremendous anger in the Arab world, even among those who do not support Hamas,” said Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s former foreign minister. “They are giving the green light to Israel,” he said of the Western powers, “and as this gets bloodier and bloodier, the West will have blood on its hands.”

The anger is so intense that the refrain “Death to America” has found renewed resonance in the region, including during a protest Friday in Bahrain, a close U.S. ally.

Many Palestinians and other Arabs said in interviews that the rhetoric coming from senior Israeli and American officials had been dehumanizing and warmonger.

When the war began, Biden called the Hamas attacks — in which gunmen killed Israeli soldiers and civilians and took nearly 200 people hostage — “pure, unadulterated evil.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said: “We are fighting human animals. There will be no Hamas; We will eliminate everything.”

While traveling in the region over the past week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken signaled that the Biden administration would have a high tolerance for any outcome of Israel’s military response to Hamas attacks.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who has worked as a lawyer in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, said she had never had “any illusions” about the United States’ role in the conflict, knowing that the United States stood firmly behind Israel. Still, she said, she was stunned by the Biden administration’s response.

“It’s like someone ripped my guts out,” he said. “This level of siding with Israel is genocidal.”

In the Middle East in general, many people do not see Israel as the victim of an unprovoked terrorist attack – as some US officials have described – but as a colonial-style attack. tenant that has been propped up by the United States and that has oppressed the Palestinians for decades.

Khalid Al-Dakhil, a prominent Saudi public intellectual, said what frustrated him most was the “blind adoption of the Israeli narrative of events” by Western powers.

“You are against the occupation in Ukraine. Can you deny that the Palestinians are under occupation?” he said. “No one is asking them to go and declare war on the Israelis because they are occupying the Palestinians; People ask them to be rational, wise and convince their allies, to make them see reason.”

US officials appear to have softened their statements in recent days, highlighting that Palestinian civilians should not suffer because of Hamas. On Sunday, the State Department named David Satterfield, a veteran diplomat with experience in Arab countries, as special humanitarian envoy to help address the crisis in Gaza. In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Biden discouraged Israel from fully reoccupying Gaza.

And shortly after taking off on Air Force One for Israel, Biden issued a statement about the Gaza hospital explosion: “I am outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of lives that resulted.” He said he had spoken with leaders in the region and had ordered his national security team to investigate what happened.

Still, the damage to the United States’ battered image in the Middle East has already been done, said Hafsa Halawa, a nonresident scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

“Americans have no moral standing in this region,” he said.

As Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza, a densely populated urban area, American military officials with memories of the battle for the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 – a fight against Iraqi insurgents that became one of the most urban combats bloodiest in recent decades – have been passing on the lessons of that experience to their Israeli counterparts.

Ms. Halawa said the past week reminded her of the atmosphere after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“What we’re really in, if you watch the news for five minutes, is genuine, pure 9/11 Islamophobia,” he said. “Twenty-three years later, we speak exactly the same language. “Americans have learned nothing.”

In Iraq, which is still fighting after that war, the dominant feeling was weariness as people watched events unfold in Israel and Gaza. There was also a mix of anger and disappointment.

“The United States doesn’t care if a thousand, a million or a billion Arabs and Muslims die, as long as its interests are not harmed,” said Moayad Jubeir, a professor of law and political science at Anbar University.

Still, there is one thing the United States can do, Iraqis said: keep the war with Hamas contained.

Mohammed Akram Ali, 43, a primary school teacher in Baghdad, said he hoped the United States would rein in Israel and help restore calm to the region.

“Hamas committed massacres of Israelis, but Israelis also committed massacres and no one can tell them: ‘Enough, enough is enough,'” Ali said. “We demand that the United States take a position that says ‘enough’ to everyone so they can restore what they lost to their reputation in Iraq.”

Frustration with the United States has grown across the region as Blinken’s diplomatic tour featured the unusual spectacle of authoritarian Arab rulers lecturing American officials about human rights.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, told Blinken that Israel must lift its siege of Gaza and that the kingdom “rejects the destruction of vital infrastructure and services that affect your daily lives.”

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi falsely claimed that Jews in his country had never experienced persecution and suggested that the United States was more shocked by the murder of Israelis than by decades of Palestinian oppression.

“Yes, it is true that what happened in the last nine days was very difficult and too much, and we condemn it unequivocally,” el-Sisi told Blinken of the Hamas attacks. “But we must understand that this is the result of anger and hatred accumulated over four decades, in which the Palestinians had no hope of finding a solution.”

After Tuesday’s explosion at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, complaints came from Arab countries. Türkiye, Qatar and Iran were among those who blamed Israel. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry quickly issued a statement blaming the attack on the Israeli military and demanding that the international community “put aside its double standards” to hold Israel accountable.

In Gaza, Wisam Abu Jamae, 27, compared the Western response after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year to the relative lack of condemnation of the Israeli siege of Gaza, saying the discrepancy was “not logical.”

“If the world cared enough about us, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said, as the sound of Israeli fighter jets flew overhead.

“Every minute, a family is removed from the record of existence.”

Vivian Nereim reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Alissa Rubin from Baghdad; and Euan Ward from Beirut, Lebanon. The report was contributed by Ameera Harouda from gaza, Ben Hubbard from cairo, David E. Sanger and Michael D. Shear from washington, Eduardo Wong from Tel Aviv and Ahmed Al-Omran from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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