U.S. response to Israel-Hamas war draws fury in Middle East

00:18, Friday, 20 October, 2023
U.S. response to Israel-Hamas war draws fury in Middle East

The staunch support for Israel has stoked accusations of American hypocrisy, with Arab critics fearing a wholesale massacre of Palestinians in response to the deadly Hamas attack on Israel.

President Biden’s trip to Israel on Wednesday has landed him in a region where grief and fury are mounting, not only toward Israel, but also toward the United States, which has declared unyielding support for its chief Middle East ally. On Tuesday, widespread condemnation of Israel rippled across the Arab and Muslim world after a huge blast at a hospital in the Gaza Strip killed hundreds of Palestinians who had been seeking treatment or refuge. Palestinian authorities accused Israel of striking the hospital, while Israel blamed a Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, for an errant rocket launch. Regardless of whatever evidence emerges, few people in the wider Middle East are likely to believe Israel's version, as protesters took to the streets in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Oman to condemn the country. Even before Tuesday’s disaster, many people across the region had come to see Israel’s war with Hamas — the Palestinian armed group that carried out a shocking attack on southern Israel last week, slaughtering roughly 1,400 people — as an American-backed massacre of Palestinian civilians in the blockaded territory of Gaza. Israel has cut off water, medicine and electricity in the enclave and targeted Gaza with airstrikes, killing more than 3,500 Palestinians, according to Gazan authorities. Many Arabs say the American government is not only indifferent to the agony of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, but also complicit in it. American pledges of “ironclad” support for Israel — and no-strings-attached security assistance — have stoked those feelings as all signs point to Israel preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza. “There is tremendous anger in the Arab world, even by those who do not support Hamas,” said Nabil Fahmy, a former foreign minister of Egypt. “They are giving Israel a green light,” he said of Western powers, “and as this gets increasingly bloody, the West will have blood on its hands.” So intense is the anger that a refrain, “Death to America,” has found renewed resonance in the region, including during a protest on Friday in Bahrain, a close American ally.

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