Tuesday, April 16, 2024

US Approves Delivery of 2,300 Powerful Bombs, 25 F-35s for Israel Amid Threat of Offensive in Gaza’s Rafah

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The acrid stench of smoldering rubble hung thick in the air over Gaza City’s shattered skyline. Beneath the ruins, mangled bodies lay untended, their anguished cries muffled by slabs of concrete ejected from bombed-out husks that once were homes.

Halfway across that forsaken strip of land, huddled amid the crumbling apartment blocks of Rafah near Gaza’s Egyptian border, over a million souls now steel themselves for a similar onslaught of savagery. For them, the nightmare is just beginning.

It comes courtesy of the United States government, which according to The Washington Post has greenlighted a gargantuan transfer worth $2.5 billion in American-made aerial munitions to Israel – a longtimestrategic ally that is currently waging a five-month military juggernaut against the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza.

The arms package signed off on by President Biden’s administration includes a terrifying array of over 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pounders. Judging by the rubble-strewn aftermath in Gaza City and other decimated areas, these particular ordnance are seemingly purpose-built to inflict maximal death and devastation against urban civilian populations when dropped from the sky.

“These 2,000-pound bombs can disfigure human bodies and level city blocks up to 1,000 feet from the detonation point,” said Kimberly Halkett, Washington correspondent for Al Jazeera news network. “Their transfer from U.S. stockpiles underscores the traumatic disconnect between America’s public hand-wringing over Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and its policy of arming Israel with some of the world’s most barbarically destructive weapons.”

Mushroom Clouds of Hypocrisy Over Gaza

Officially, the White House has declined comment on the arms transfers that human rights monitors say enable potential war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, a densely populated sliver of urbanized land that has seen over 30,000 Palestinian deaths since last fall.

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But the Biden administration’s pronouncements in favor of protecting innocent civilians, and its occasional diplomatic rebukes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s heavy-handed tactics, increasingly ring hollow.

Just days ago, the U.S. opted not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate Gaza ceasefire and release of prisoners – a gesture the Palestinian foreign ministry dismissed as meaningless amid “the ongoing failure of the U.N. and world courts to bring Israel to heel.”

The cognitive dissonance isn’t lost on critics like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who lambasted the White House over the bomb transfers in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The U.S. cannot beg Netanyahu to stop killing civilians one day, then the next send him thousands of mammoth bombs that can level city blocks,” railed the progressive lawmaker. “This is deepening our complicity in obvious war crimes. No more bombs to Israel, period!”

The Palestinian territories have indeed devolved into an unfathomable human abattoir since last fall, when Netanyahu’s far-right coalition launched its military operation – ostensibly to dismantle militant Palestinian rocket crews. But the indiscriminate Israeli retaliation quickly mutated into something more unrestrained and monstrous.

Beyond the mass loss of civilian life, upwards of 2 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip now teeter on the brink of starvation amid a rapidly metastasizing famine triggered by the conflict.

The scenes playing out on the rubble-strewn streets of Gaza are “horror stories of suffering unlike anything we’ve witnessed,” according to Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who joined the growing global chorus demanding an immediate halt to weapons shipments fueling the onslaught.

“What’s happening in Gaza shames the world’s humanity,” Safadi said. “These facts cry out for all weapons transfers to Israel to cease immediately and for its forces to be compelled under international law to end this catastrophe.”

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‘Abandoned’ by World, Displaced Gazans Flee to Rafah

With supply lines choked by the Israeli siege, humanitarian relief operations in Gaza are nearing complete breakdown as the crisis deepens. Multiple United Nations agencies and NGOs have urged Israel to obey an International Court of Justice order mandating unimpeded aid access for Gaza’s fleeing civilians, to no avail.

Meanwhile, in a striking contradiction, the U.S. Congress recently passed a federal funding package that not only guarantees another $3 billion-plus for Israeli military operations but slashes funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency coordinating emergency humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

Respected regional analysts like Marc Owen Jones, an associate professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, say such policy decisions lay bare the mendacity of America’s public rhetoric on the issue.

“This is just continuing business as usual, where the U.S. bankrolls Israeli warmongering while cutting off the humanitarian lifelines keeping Palestinian refugees alive,” Jones told Al Jazeera. “It’s a clear violation of American laws restricting arms transfers to militaries engaged in human rights violations, and it demolishes any moral credibility the Biden administration might claim.”

With most of Gaza’s cities and towns turned to apocalyptic wastelands under sustained Israeli bombardment, some 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, the strip’s southernmost locale abutting Egypt.

But the beleaguered residents’ hopes of finding sanctuary there from the American-supplied hammer of death appear increasingly delusional. Netanyahu has threatened an imminent ground invasion of Rafah, which had its planned operational review by U.S. officials abruptly canceled after Washington’s half-hearted opposition to the Gaza onslaught at the U.N.

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Now, word is the Rafah briefing may be rescheduled as early as Monday at Netanyahu’s request – hardly a comforting prospect for the enclave’s traumatized occupants watching relentlessly bomb-laden American warplanes darken their skies.

“People here in Rafah are utterly depleted after months of living under siege and bombardment – their spirits crushed, their city shredded by Israeli strikes,” said Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reporting from the outskirts of the battered Palestinian haven. “All they can do is hunker down and pray they aren’t next to join Gaza’s ever-swelling ranks of martyrs.”

As the freshest artillery shells from U.S. bunkers marry up with Israeli fighter wings, Biden could face mounting backlash from disaffected Arab-American leaders angered by the mounting butcher’s bill and apparent U.S. complicity. On Friday, the president acknowledged “the pain being felt” within that community over Gaza – even as he reaffirmed the unwavering American commitment to arm and fund the Israeli military juggernaut now threatening to grind Rafah into dust.

But those optics of diplomatic posturing seem increasingly detached from the apocalyptic reality unfolding in the shadowed alleyways and crushed homes of Rafah, where the U.S. is showering Israel with some of the most potent non-nuclear ordnance its military-industrial complex can produce.

It’s a scenario United Nations officials have warned threatens to precipitate a “mass-scale disaster of incomprehensible proportions” once the bombs start raining down on Gaza’s last remaining urban refuge.

Yet for now, abandoned to their fate by nations keen to pay lip service to human rights and international law, all Rafah’s people can do is cower in their homes amid the gathering storm, hoping against hope that the next American MK84 streaking across the Mediterranean skyline might somehow spare their families.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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