US State Department Rejects Gaza's Right To Self-defense From Israeli Aggression
09 July 2014
By Rania Khalek
During the US State Department's daily press briefing
this morning, spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked whether
Palestinians in Gaza have a right to defend themselves
against Israeli aggression. As of this writing,
Israeli bombing has killed more than fifty
Palestinians since Monday, including more than a dozen
children, and injured an additional 450 in the
besieged Gaza Strip.
Psaki responded by feigning confusion and deflecting
the question. The question was posed after Psaki
repeatedly invoked Israel's right to defend itself
from Hamas rocket fire.
Psaki was also asked by the same journalist whether
Israel's "response" to rockets fired from Gaza has
been proportionate. She again deflected and reiterated
the United States' support for Israel. Here is the
QUESTION: Remaining on the message theme, so you
think that all Israel is doing is sending a strong
deterrent message and that's all there is, and that
remains within the accepted proportion or whatever,
MS. PSAKI: I don't think that's what I stated,
Said. There is obviously a range of circumstances on
the ground right now, as you all know. There are the
unfortunate recent deaths of the three teenagers.
There are – there is the kidnapping and then the
beating of the other teenager.
MS. PSAKI: There is violence and
back-and-forth. I don't have to repeat for you. You
know exactly what's happening on the ground.
QUESTION: I know. I understand and you don't have
to repeat for me. But you feel that sort of the
Israeli air raids, like maybe hundreds of them so far
this day, are proportionate to the rockets?
MS. PSAKI: That's not – I wouldn't validate the
accuracy of that number, but I would say, Said —
QUESTION: Okay. Well, the sorties – there are
hundreds of sorties.
MS. PSAKI: I would say, Said, that I don't
think any country would be expected to allow rockets
to come in and threaten the lives and health and
well-being of the citizens in their country, and
Israel has the right to defend themselves.
QUESTION: Okay. Do you believe that the
Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend
MS. PSAKI: I think – I'm not sure what you're
getting at, Said.
QUESTION: I am asking you: Do they have the right
to defend themselves against Israeli aggression?
MS. PSAKI: What are you specifically referring
to? Is there a specific event or a specific
QUESTION: Do they have the right to respond to
Israeli rocketing and bombing their homes, their
houses, their areas, their schools?
MS. PSAKI: We're talking about attacks from a
terrorist organization, Said. I don't think you're —
QUESTION: No, but there is also a population —
MS. PSAKI: — we're having a conversation about
what's happening here.
QUESTION: I mean, you agree that there is a
civilian population in Gaza that is also subject to —
MS. PSAKI: Certainly, and the threat, as I
mentioned earlier, to civilian populations is of great
concern to us. And that's one of the reasons why we're
so focused on encouraging all sides to de-escalate.
QUESTION: Are you calling on someone like Egypt to
intervene, perhaps, that can bring about some sort of
MS. PSAKI: We've, again, been in touch with
countries from the region. I'm not going to get into
any greater level of specificity.
QUESTION: Have you gotten a response from the
Egyptians that they are willing to intervene or
perhaps broker —
MS. PSAKI: I'll let countries speak for
This is in keeping with the US policy of double
standards in the region. No matter how many civilian
homes Israel bombs, no matter how many innocent
Palestinians are killed and maimed, the US will never
respect the besieged and tormented population of
Gaza's right to self-defense.
Instead American officials will continue to gaurantee
their unwavering and unconditional support for Israeli
aggression in both rhetoric and military aid, as
President Barack Obama has done in an op-ed in the
Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in which he declared:
Budgets in Washington are tight, but our commitment to
Israel's security remains ironclad. The United States
is committed to providing more than $3 billion each
year to help finance Israel's security through 2018.
We should expect nothing less than cartoonish double
standards from the regime that finances Israel's
It is important to note that Israel controls the Gaza
Strip from air, land and sea, and is therefore
obligated under international law to protect civilians
in the territories it occupies. As Noura Erakat
explains on the Jadaliyya website, Israel's framing of
military incursions into Gaza as "self-defense" is
part of a long-standing effort by both Israel and the
US to weaken and change international law.