US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has sought to justify Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, saying, “Did the American public worry about how many people were dying to destroy Tokyo and Berlin?” Responding to a question on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the killing of thousands of civilians in Gaza, Graham added, “Tell us how to do it differently. The reason so many Palestinians are dying, I think, is because Hamas wants them to die.”
He went on to criticise the warning by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris that too many Palestinians have been killed and civilians should not be targeted in Gaza. Graham claimed that Hamas is everywhere in Gaza, and that it is not possible for Israel to discriminate between civilians and fighters in its attacks.
The Republican senator described the ideas of Defence Minister Austin as “naive” for believing that more civilian casualties could produce even more resistance fighters. “I mean I just lost all confidence in this guy. The population has been radicalised for decades. You don’t get that? Do you know what they teach in schools? The idea that somehow Israel is radicalising the people in Gaza is ridiculous. They’ve been radicalised by Hamas for years. The idea of Hamas still standing when this is over would be the ultimate strategic failure.”
On Saturday, Austin spoke at the Reagan National Defence Forum and said he has “personally pushed Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties, and to shun irresponsible rhetoric, and to prevent violence by settlers in the West Bank, and to dramatically expand access to humanitarian aid.”
At the beginning of last month, Senator Graham incited the killing of more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in a manner that provoked widespread outrage. CNN’s Abby Philip asked him, “Is there a threshold for you, and do you think there should be one for the United States government, in which the US would say, ‘Let’s hold off for a second in terms of civilian casualties’?”
Graham answered: “No. If somebody asked us after World War Two, ‘Is there a limit what would you do to make sure that Japan and Germany don’t conquer the world? Is there any limit what Israel should do to the people who are trying to slaughter the Jews?’ The answer is no. There is no limit.”
He tried to soften the blow of his statement by saying that he “hated the loss of innocent lives”, and claimed that the occupation state was trying to limit civilian losses. Nevertheless, he held Hamas fully responsible for the brutal aggression that is taking place in the Gaza Strip.
Commentators have said that Graham’s statements reflect the beliefs of US politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties, most of whom stand with the Israeli occupation right or wrong. It has also been pointed out that, according to the late Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff, “The Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously… [the army] has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…”