Forsaken by the “peace process,” ignored by mainstream media, denied justice two years after Israel committed what many rights groups called war crimes– still, the plight of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip remains a burning issue around the world. Cables from the trove of State Department documents WikiLeaks has been releasing show that global civil society’s outrage at the brutal 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza has resonated with governments everywhere, and that Gaza remains a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the Israeli occupation.
–A cable from February 2010 states that Egypt’s government has voiced concern over “intense domestic and regional criticism of perceived complicity in the Israeli blockade of Gaza” because of its “counter smuggling efforts, including the construction of a subterranean steel wall along the Egypt-Gaza border.”
–The General Intelligence Chief in Egypt, Omar Soliman, told a U.S. diplomat in April 2009 that “‘incidents like Gaza…inflame public anger'” and that Operation Cast Lead “put ‘moderate (Arab) regimes’ in a corner.”
–The undersecretary for Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs told a U.S. diplomat during a February 2010 visit that the “‘humanitarian situation in Gaza,'” which is not a punishment of Hamas, but of the Gazan people, fed Turkish popular anger against Israel.”
–A document prepared for a U.S. Senator’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia in March 2009 states that, “Saudi and Arab public opinion have reacted strongly to the Israeli offensive on Gaza, creating intense pressure on Arab governments to act. The Saudis fear instability and increasing Iranian influence could result, and believe that there is a limited window of opportunity for action.”
–Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamist group that operates out of Pakistan, “purportedly raises funds for the Palestinian people in response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza,” according to an August 2009 cable.
But as the international coalition that made headlines last May when Israeli naval forces raided their flotilla and killed 9 people showed, the issue of Gaza doesn’t only resonate in the Arab and Muslim world.
–When Assistant Secretary Thomas Shannon visited Spain in January 2009, “Gaza crept into discussions of Latin America,” according to a State Department cable. While that cable doesn’t go into more detail about the content of the discussions about Gaza, it likely reflects the intense Spanish and Latin American solidarity with the people of Gaza. In a February 2009 cable, Benjamin Netanyahu told a Congressional delegation that “there were larger demonstrations against the Gaza operation in Madrid and London than in the West Bank.”
–U.S. Senator John Kerry told Qatar’s prime minister in February 2010 that he was “‘shocked by what I saw in Gaza.'”
The two-year anniversary of the Israeli assault on Gaza is approaching, and the situation in the Strip has not changed much. But friends of the Palestinians can surely take solace in the fact that governments around the world are beginning to take notice of Palestinian conditions as a result of popular pressure. The WikiLeaks cables show further that Israel may have gone too far during those “22 days of death and destruction.”
For more WikiLeaks news and analysis relating to Israel/Palestine, see:
—Foreign Policy’s Mideast Channel, Matt Duss: “Linkage and its discontents: What WikiLeaks reveals about Israel-Palestine”
—The Angry Arab News Service, As’ad Abu Khalil: “Why Israel has not figured in Wikileaks yet”
—The Guardian, Ian Black: “WikiLeaks cables: Syria believed Israel was behind sniper killing”