Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he cared more about Palestinians than their own leaders do. The comment came in response to allegations that Hamas had diverted international aid away from Gaza’s civilian population.
“I’m going to say something now that some of you will not believe. But I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true,” he said in a video posted online via social media. “I, the prime minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.”
“Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza, stole millions of dollars from humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the United Nations,” he said.
“Innocent and impoverished Palestinians were denied vital aid supplied from nations around the world,” he said, adding that Hamas stole “critical support for Palestinian children so that they could kill our children.”
I, the Prime Minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do. Sounds incredible, right? https://t.co/tAXe0VrBYe
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 11, 2016
According to Netanyahu’s charges against Hamas, an employee for World Vision funneled millions of dollars to the organization over several years. The Christian charity said that, based on the available evidence, it has “no reason to believe that the allegations are true.”
But, for Netanyahu, truth is easily sacrificed in service of Israel’s propaganda war against the Palestinians. Indeed, the prime minister’s latest comments are little more than a cynical attempt to undermine international aid projects in Gaza. By reinforcing the false narrative that Hamas is strengthened by this support, the strategy also has the added benefit of facilitating Israel’s targeting of international charities critical of its policies.
But, of course, this contrived ploy ignores the ways in which Israel’s policies have made Gaza entirely dependent on assistance from foreign charitable organizations.
Eighty percent of Gazans are dependent on international aid precisely because of Israel’s ten year blockade of the Strip, a policy unchanged, and indeed tightened, under Netanyahu’s leadership. Last year, a UN report said that Gaza – home to 1.8 million Palestinians – would become unlivable by 2020 due to the blockade’s effects. Ninety-five percent of water is unsafe to drink, 72 percent of households are food insecure, and Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world, at 43 percent.
The effects of such engineered despair are, of course, exacerbated by conflict, with Israel launching two wars against Gaza under Netanyahu’s stewardship. The 2014 military offensive was one of the single most deadly months in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, killing over 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.
If Netanyahu really cared about Palestinian lives he would end the deliberately manufactured humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza; stop home demolitions, mass arrests, extra-judicial executions, and settlement building in the West Bank, and end institutional discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Anything less is merely an attempt to use Palestinian suffering as the latest Israeli prop in an endless propaganda war.