A displaced Palestinian family returns home amid the destruction in part of the northern Beit Hanun district of Gaza Strip after a 72-hour truce accepted by Israel and Hamas came into effect yesterday. The bloody 29-day-old Gaza conflict has killed 1,867 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.Photo: AFP, Independent.co.uk
During the brief ceasefire in a ferocious little war, as Gaza's people go back to their shattered homes to look for whatever is left to find, from Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun to Khuzaa, they come across the tailfins of American-supplied 120mm mortar rounds. The things are embedded in living room couches and rest amid smashed stucco and concrete slabs that used to be someone's walls. Craters and the twisted wreckage of buildings collapsed by bombs from the US-made F16 “multirole fighters” in the Israeli air force are now part of the Gaza moonscape. Beneath some of the former homes and businesses, the bodies of those who couldn't escape American-supplied firepower are still decomposing.
Israel is the largest recipient of US military assistance in the world—about $3.1 billion a year these days, and some $80 billion since the 1960s . As this war in Gaza drags on, Washington is committed to resupplying Israel with the weapons it needs to continue its assault. On July 30, the Pentagon, which stockpiles weapons in Israel, announced it was turning over large but unspecified quantities of 120mm mortar rounds to the Israeli military in a transaction so routine the White House didn't even need to be notified. Except that there's nothing routine about the Gaza slaughter. And that ammunition was needed by Israel to continue its offensive.
Maybe that's why Palestinians were cynical when they heard US Secretary of State John Kerry promise $47 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Gaza at the end of July. Uncle Sam giveth, and Uncle Sam taketh away. But in the midst of this, their third major war in a decade, Gazans know that where they are concerned there's never remotely as much giving as there is taking away.
For many Gazans, Israel's use of US supplied weapons to destroy their lives and kill their friends and relatives is a reality they resigned themselves to long ago. While there is anger at America as Israel's enabler, there is more indignation at the hypocrisy of Washington offering aid to their maimed society, crippled with the help of Washington's weaponry.
In the flattened north-Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, 24-year-old Tamer al Masri stands outside his family apartment next to his living room. The front wall is gone. It looks like a makeshift proscenium, the stage for what used to be his life.
“We have known about the use of US weapons for a very long time,” he says, unfazed by America's role in the death of his brother. “What I don't understand is why the Americans gives us food and then give bombs to Israel to kill us.”