In the causes that have led the Biden administration and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to launch calls for a “humanitarian pause” in the Gaza Strip, even though it continues to arm Israel, stands a long article by Al Jazeera.
Indicatively, just as Anthony Blinken was meeting with Israeli officials to urge them to make a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza, Israel was intensifying its bombing of the Palestinian territory, hitting hospitals, ambulances and civilians trying to escape.
Human rights advocates argue that “humanitarian pauses” are insufficient to stop the carnage in Gaza, with the UN even raising concerns about possible war crimes.
“I don’t know who is advising the US government legally, but they are making a big mistake.”
“This is obviously completely inadequate and probably not sustainable over time. It’s kind of an absurd approach to this issue,” said Adam Sapporo, Israel-Palestine director at the NGO Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
“I don’t know who is advising the US government legally, but if they think this is a way to offset international humanitarian law, they are very much mistaken. This is simply not legal,” he noted.
“The Biden administration is finding it increasingly difficult to justify allowing Israel to continue its genocide”
Shapiro added that the call for humanitarian pauses also paves the way for a conflict “that doesn’t go anywhere” without Israel being held accountable or incurring a political cost.
While in Israel on Friday, Blinken said a temporary ceasefire would allow more aid to Gaza, protect Palestinian civilians and allow diplomacy to free prisoners held by Hamas.
“We believe that each of these efforts will be facilitated by humanitarian pauses, by arrangements on the ground that increase security for civilians and allow for more effective and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid,” he told reporters.
The White House had earlier said any pause would be “limited,” a goal far less ambitious than achieving a full ceasefire.
Nevertheless, this stance signals a change in the US position. Two weeks ago, Washington vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian pause.
“The Biden administration sees the anger of the American public”
Sandra Tamari, executive director of the Adalah Justice Project, an advocacy group, said the call for a humanitarian pause shows the Biden administration is responding to growing pressure at home over the death toll in Gaza, where more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed. by Friday, with the number constantly increasing.
“The Biden administration is seeing the outrage of the American public over this genocide and these killings and is finding it increasingly difficult to justify allowing Israel to continue,” Tamari told Al Jazeera.
Blinken’s visit came amid growing discontent among Arab and Muslim communities over the Biden administration’s handling of the conflict. A poll earlier this week showed Biden at a record low of 17 percent support among Arab Americans, down 42 points.
Disputes in the government
There were also reports of growing dissension within the government itself. A State Department official, Josh Paul, said he resigned because of “the continued lethal US aid to Israel.”
Tamari stressed that a humanitarian pause would not quell anger within communities that support Palestinian rights.
“The Palestinians don’t want a pause in the bombing so that food can come in and then be bombed again. It is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
But even Blinken’s moderate push for a temporary suspension of hostilities appears to have been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I made it clear that we are continuing with full force and that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire that does not include the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said.
“The Israelis are now simply saying to the face of the Americans: We are not even listening to what you have to say”
Shapiro said the rejection echoed a longstanding approach among Israeli leaders. As he explained, they can ignore Washington’s demands because they know the US will not impose real sanctions on Israel.
For example, despite its opposition to illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, the US has done little to stop Israel’s expansion there or the escalation of state-sponsored settler violence, Shapiro said.
“The Israelis are now just saying to the face of the Americans: We’re not even listening to what you have to say because you don’t support it at all.”
Israel receives $3.8 billion in US military aid annually, and Biden has requested more than $14 billion in additional funding for the Israeli government since the war broke out. In addition, the Pentagon said earlier this week that it “places no limits on how Israel uses the weapons” provided by the US. Likewise, the White House said it “draws no red lines” for Israel.
The US Defense Department also confirmed on Friday that US surveillance drones are flying over Gaza to support “Israeli partners as they work on hostage release efforts”, suggesting direct involvement in Israel’s military campaign.
Palestinian groups are holding more than 200 prisoners after the October 7 Hamas attack that killed 1,400 Israelis.
Since then, Israel has declared war on Hamas and is mercilessly bombing Gaza in the name of eliminating the Palestinian organization.
“You have blood on your hands”
Given US support for Israel’s war effort, Palestinian rights advocates say they are unconvinced by the Biden administration’s increasing emphasis on protecting civilians in Gaza. In fact, Israel’s bombing campaign appears to have worsened over the past two weeks, as US officials have stepped up their calls for the Israeli military to adhere to the “rules of war”.
On Friday, Blinken said he sees “his own children” in the images of dead and wounded Palestinian children in Gaza. However, he continued to emphasize US support for Israel.
Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Istanbul ahead of Blinken’s visit to Turkey
But Tamari of the Adalah Justice Project said Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans are not falling “off those courtesies.” “All the Palestinians look at Blinken, Biden, this whole administration and say, ‘You have blood on your hands,'” Tamari said. Tariq Kenny-Shawa, a US policy fellow at the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka, also rejected the Biden administration’s soft tone and call for humanitarian pauses.
“They are trying to kill as many Palestinians as possible as long as they are sure that the US will support them”
“Any party that funds Israel with $14 billion and replenishes the ammunition that Israel uses to commit genocide in Gaza is an active accomplice,” Kenny-Shawa said.
“The laced rhetoric about human rights that the Biden administration is known for is nothing but hot air. If Washington wanted to influence Israel’s decision-making, it could easily leverage the unprecedented amount of economic and military support it provides,” he added.
For now, as international pressure mounts and calls for a cease-fire grow louder, Kenny-Shawa said Israel is trying to inflict more pain on the Palestinians.
“The minimal pressure the Biden administration is putting on them is proof that unconditional support cannot go on forever,” he said in an email to Al Jazeera.
“I think they are trying to kill as many Palestinians as possible in this window of opportunity that they have, where they are sure that the US will support them, no matter what they do,” he concluded.