In a recent post, I published a State Department notice it was evacuating U.S. citizens from Gaza. The message asked those wishing to leave to provide necessary contact information by the morning of July 11th (yesterday). I predicted that meant an Israeli invasion would happen the next day (July 12th) or the following one. True to form, Israel Radio aired this announcement minutes ago:
A senior military source says that the IDF will mount a significant military operation in the coming hours, after the [civilian] population is cleared from areas from which rockets are fired, mainly in northern Gaza. Residents [to be cleared] will receive announcements, SMS messages, media bulletins and leaflets. According to the military source, this type of operation is accepted under international law. Israel did the same in the past in Lebanon and that experience proves a population may be cleared from an area exploited for the purposes of acts of terror.
To be clear, the news item announces a “significant [new] military operation.” I’ve interpreted this (reasonably I think) as the expected ground invasion. You often have to interpret such statements from Israeli military-intelligence sources using previous experience and understanding of sub-text. A lot is communicated through hints and coded language. AP has also confirmed the IDF was clearing northern Gaza in preparation for “stepping up its offensive.”
Further, the State Department announced an evacuation of U.S. embassy and consular staff from the Negev:
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Continued Rockets; Move of Personnel out of Be’er Sheva
July 11, 2014
Due to ongoing hostilities and the continuing rocket attacks throughout Israel, U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv has relocated Embassy personnel assigned to Be’er Sheva north to Herzliya. The Embassy and its annexes continue to operate at minimal staffing. The Consular Section will continue to provide only emergency services. Embassy personnel are not permitted to travel south of greater Tel Aviv without prior approval. Embassy families living in Tel Aviv and greater Tel Aviv, such as Herzliya, are being advised to remain in close communication with one another.
The Embassy continues to closely monitor the security situation and advises U.S. citizens to visit the website of the Government of Israel’s Home Front Command for further emergency preparedness guidance.
Recent events underscore the importance of situational awareness. We remind you to be aware of your surroundings at all times, to moni
This is the moment so many of us have expected and dreaded. It is the crossing of the Rubicon. From here, Israel crosses over from a massive, punishing air assault to outright invasion. The Obama administration and United Nations, which have stood by thus far impotently, must rouse themselves from moral torpor and act decisively. Of course, they will wait until the killing becomes even more senseless than it already is. If they act at all.
Here is the latest ineffectual pap from the State Department on the crisis:
Asked whether the US had taken a position on an Israeli invasion into Gaza, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not rule out a ground assault, instead replying that such an outcome was “no one’s preference.” She declared: “I would remind you who is at fault here, and that is Hamas.”
It is shameful for a U.S. diplomat to declare a people who has suffered 140 dead, the offenders in this crisis. It is the equivalent of telling a rape victim her assault was her own fault. The innocent civilians of Gaza (nearly 80% of the dead were civilians) are not to blame for anything. Yet they suffer inordinately. Not to recognize makes us willing accomplices to murder.
A few words about the argument offered in the military statement on behalf of the invasion. Israel did not “clear” civilians from southern Lebanon. Certainly not in the same systematic way it plans to do so in Gaza, where it will expell at least 100,000 people. Even if it did so in Lebanon, perpetrating a violation of international law without being punished doesn’t justify doing so again. Where will these 100,000 Gaza refugees go? Will Israel provide them shelters or refuge? This is a humanitarian crisis in the making. There is no provision under international law for doing so under any circumstance.
Such a mass expulsion is a form of Nakba writ small. A reminder of the expulsion of 1-million Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. Now Israel can add a new moral stain to its human rights record.
An Israeli invasion is a vastly disproportionate response to the “problem” it purports to solve. Such military adventurism reinforces the importance of BDS as a potent tool in the non-violent struggle for rights and justice for Palestine. Israel may complain about “delegitimization.” But as I’ve written before here, the only force delegitimizing Israel is Israel itself.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.