US Plays Decisive Role in Israel's Attack on Gaza
29 July 2014
By Jonathan Cook
Two reporters for major US TV channels were summarily
"removed" last week from covering Israel's attack on
Gaza, moments before Israel launched a ground
NBC pulled out Ayman Mohyeldin, who has been widely
praised for the even-handedness of his reporting from
Gaza, just as he landed a harrowing scoop. He had
kicked a football with four boys who were killed
moments later by an Israeli missile.
Mohyeldin managed a few tweets before being removed,
allegedly on "security" grounds. But why then did NBC
immediately send in a replacement? After a public
outcry, Mohyeldin was reinstated, but no proper
explanation of the decision has been provided.
Shortly afterwards, CNN "reassigned" its reporter in
Israel, Diana Magnay, after a tweet in which she
labelled as "scum" an Israeli mob that threatened her
with violence as she filmed them celebrating missile
explosions in Gaza. The tweet was deleted within
minutes, followed by her rapid departure.
The impression left by these incidents and the
generally deferential tone towards Israel in US
coverage is that, faced with huge pressure from the
Israel lobby, media executives are frantically
policing their correspondents' output, including on
That view was confirmed to Max Blumenthal by an NBC
producer after the channel axed Rula Jebreal, a
Palestinian contributor, following her on-air
complaints about the massive over-representation of
Israeli officials in US coverage. The producer said
there was a "witch-hunt" being conducted by NBC
executives, led by the media corporation's president,
The obvious shortcomings in US coverage of a story in
which Washington itself is a key player deprive us of
a vital piece of the puzzle about what is going on in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region
on Monday to intensify ceasefire efforts, the day
after a studio microphone captured his sarcastic
comment that it was "a hell of a pin-point operation"
by Israel. He had just been informed of a horrifying
assault on the Shujaiiya neighbourhood, which left
dozens of dead, taking Palestinian casualties so far
to more than 650 killed and thousands wounded.
Washington's good faith as honest broker goes largely
unquestioned in the US, even though the country
annually provides Israel with billions of dollars in
aid and military support of the kind that enables
these repeated attacks on Gaza.
The claim is only tenable because Washington's actual
behaviour is rarely scrutinised in detail.
Two recent investigations by the Israeli media
illustrate the profoundly unhelpful role played by the
US. They suggest that, whatever its public statements,
the US is assisting Israel not only in what President
Barack Obama called its right to "self-defence" but in
actively damaging Palestinian interests.
And it seems not to matter whether the Palestinians in
question are Hamas or the preferred negotiating
partner, Mahmoud Abbas.
The first disclosure concerns the offer of an Egyptian
ceasefire last week. This was presented as a crucial
chance to end the bloodshed, one generously seized by
Israel and shunned by Hamas. Only footnoted in some
reports were Hamas "claims" that it had not been
Israel's liberal daily Haaretz soon confirmed Hamas'
account with Israeli officials and western diplomats.
The reality, according to Haaretz, is that Kerry
secretly dispatched to Cairo peace envoy Tony Blair,
who in turn lobbied the Egyptian president, Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi, to coordinate the ceasefire's terms
with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sisi is currently waging an all-out war against
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' ideological ally.
He has harshly punished Hamas too by tightening the
siege on the shared border with Gaza. Like Israel,
Sisi's Egypt is a major beneficiary of US aid.
In short, Sisi and Netanyahu share a keen interest to
weaken and humiliate Hamas. And yet, the US encouraged
them to negotiate a ceasefire over Hamas' head. Since
then, Washington has rebuffed an alternative proposal
from Qatar and Turkey, who are more sympathetic to
It was a foregone conclusion that Hamas would reject
the Egyptian offer. It failed to address key concerns,
not least that the suffocating siege be ended and that
Israel honour earlier agreements, particularly on
The ceasefire proposal was nothing more than a trap –
one whose purpose was to elicit a Hamas rejection and
thereby provide Israel with a pretext to launch its
Netanyahu, backed by the US, is using the current
attack to terrorise Gaza's civilian population,
deplete Hamas' rocket stockpile, and then force it to
accept terms of surrender.
The second investigation comes from journalist Raviv
Drucker, this time concerning the peace talks that
collapsed in April. Washington officials have told him
that US negotiators spent the talks' key phase
coordinating positions exclusively with Netanyahu.
Abbas was then presented with a fait accompli of
hardline Israeli demands.
Despite its public pronouncements, Washington was also
secretly conspiring with Israel on a huge expansion of
settlement projects. These were announced – to loud
condemnation by Kerry – each time a batch of
Palestinian prisoners was released, a condition Abbas
had set for his participation.
But US opposition was feigned, writes Drucker. In
reality, Washington was "informed of the [settlement]
tenders in advance".
It is no surprise that Netanyahu has been acting in
bad faith, and that his military campaigns in the West
Bank and Gaza are designed to disrupt the recent
reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah.
As Israeli analyst Noam Sheizaf points out, Netanyahu
is opposed to a peace deal of any kind. For him,
"Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are pretty much the same. Any
gain by either one of them is a loss to Israel."
But of far greater concern should be the Obama
administration's decision to back Israel to the hilt
and the US media's silence on the matter. There can be
no hope of a peaceful solution ever gaining traction –
or these bouts of blood-letting in Gaza coming to end
– unless Washington is finally unmasked as Israel's
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize
for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the
Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to
Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and
"Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human
Despair" (Zed Books). His website is