The Electronic Intifada / August 6, 2020
Even amidst catastrophe, Israel’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.
A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people, injuring more than 5,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands.
The death toll is likely to climb as rescue workers search the devastated Lebanese capital.
The blast left little unscathed, as citizens posted pictures and videos of shattered homes, damaged cars and collapsed buildings across the city.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation. Lebanese officials linked it to 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored for the past six years in warehouses at the port without safety precautions.
Now, Israel is exploiting the tragedy to erase its own crimes against Lebanon, distract from military occupation and polish its image – a propaganda strategy called bluewashing.
Israel announced it was offering Lebanon humanitarian aid through diplomatic channels.
“This is the time to transcend conflict,” the official account of the Israeli military tweeted.
On Wednesday evening, Tel Aviv even lit up its city hall with the Lebanese flag.
The breathtaking hypocrisy was not lost on Twitter users who posted notorious images taken during Israel’s 2006 invasion showing Israeli children writing messages on artillery shells before the army fired them into Lebanon.
“Will your gift baskets be signed just like your missiles?” One social media user wrote.
The offers of “humanitarian” aid come from the same country that has killed and injured tens of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and regularly threatens to destroy Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure as it has done time and again.
During the 2006 invasion, Israel fired more than a million cluster munitions into the country.
“What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs,” an Israeli army officer told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.
In the course of that war, Israel dropped some 7,000 bombs and missiles, and bombarded all parts of Lebanon by land and naval artillery as well.
More than 1,100 people were killed and some 4,400 injured, the vast majority civilians.
An investigation by Human Rights Watch completely debunked Israel’s claims that the horrifying toll was as a result of “collateral damage” because Hizballah fighters were hiding among civilians or using them as “human shields.”
Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel indiscriminately targeted civilian areas – a strategy known as the “Dahiya Doctrine,” after the southern suburb of Beirut that Israel deliberately flattened.
And Israeli leaders frequently threaten to do it again.
In 2018, for example, Yisrael Katz, a senior member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, threatened to bomb Lebanon to the “Stone Age” and “the age of cavemen.”
And just days ago, after claiming that Hizballah fighters had attempted to attack the Israeli army across the border, Netanyahu alluded to the 2006 war.
The Israeli leader said on 27 July, that in 2006 Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah “made a big mistake in testing Israel’s determination to defend itself, and the Lebanese state has paid a heavy price for this.”
“I suggest he does not repeat this mistake,” Netanyahu added – a barely veiled threat to repeat the same massive destruction.
Netanyahu repeated his threats just hours before the Beirut explosion.
For maximum propaganda value, Israel is reportedly insisting on keeping Hebrew markings on any aid shipments that might reach Lebanon – although Lebanon is almost certain to reject such aid.
Meanwhile, Israel rushed to spread baseless rumors blaming Hizballah for the blast.
“This comes despite the evidence the explosion stemmed from a storehouse of Hizballah munitions,” the account added.
Absolutely no such evidence has come to light.
UN sells Israel
Instead of condemning such violations and calling for justice for the victims of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, lauded Israel for offering aid:
Mladenov appeared to be cynically using the tragedy as an opportunity to advance a political agenda of normalizing regional ties with Israel.
Israel’s Arabic-language propaganda Twitter account continued to put out shameless assertions of “solidarity” with the Lebanese people:
Not everyone was on message, however.
Moshe Feiglin, the former deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, celebrated the blast in Beirut as “spectacular pyrotechnics show” and a “wonderful celebration” coinciding with a date Jews mark as a holiday of love.
This is the same Feiglin who during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza proposed a plan to “concentrate” Palestinians in border camps and “exterminate” any who resisted, while destroying all civilian housing and infrastructure.
But most Israeli politicians apparently got the memo that these sorts of declarations are not the image Israel wants to send out.
Even as Israel lights up Tel Aviv city hall in a cynical display of support, few Lebanese will forget that almost 14 years ago to the day, Israel was lighting up Lebanon’s skies with missiles and bombs.
Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada
Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.