By Carey Wedler
A powerful government’s military unleashed chemical weapons on a crowd of protesters in Gaza this week, but Team America-World Police is nowhere to be found. That’s because the government that launched the attack is Israel’s, and the United States has a habit of ignoring its allies’ crimes and suppression of dissent.
A tear gas attack was launched during Palestinians’ protests against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which coincided with Nakba day, when Palestinians mourn the official establishment of the state of Israel.
At least 58 people have died in the crackdown, with over 2,700 more injured, including medics and members of the press in what is only the latest Israeli attack on protests. Just last month, two journalists were among the dozens killed in a similar demonstration.
Despite the West’s outrage at alleged chemical weapons attacks waged by the Syrian government, no similar condemnation has been issued for the use of these chemical weapons of war on protesters in Gaza. Instead, the U.S. has doubled down on its support for Israel, arguing it has shown “restraint.”
There is undoubtedly a difference in severity between sarin gas and tear gas.
However, tear gas is still internationally recognized as a weapon of war that many countries have agreed not to use on the battlefield. Though 192 countries are party to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which was officially enforced in 1997, Israel has signed it but never ratified it, effectively placing itself among the ranks of North Korea, Egypt, and South Sudan, which have never signed or ratified.
Even so, that U.N. agreement still allows the use of tear gas in domestic conflicts for the purposes of riot control, which many proponents of harsh Israeli tactics will argue was the situation in Gaza this week by claiming Israel has the right to defend itself from unruly terrorists.
But for a government that routinely condemns the U.N. and refuses to acknowledge the international body’s opinions on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and routinely brutal treatment of Palestinians, the notion that ‘the U.N. allows tear gas on domestic populations’ is hardly a convincing justification — especially for a country that claims to value democracy and the ideals of freedom then justifies injuring thousands of people without any possible way to verify they were all members of a terrorist faction.
This Israel suppression of legitimate protest despite its claims of loyalty to the fundamental tenets of democracy is exactly why it is unsurprising that they are willing to use dangerous chemical weapons to silence dissent — that they are willing to attack journalists and medics, all without fear of consequence. The Israeli government has gotten away with this behavior for decades, and so has its chief benefactor: the United States, which also uses tear gas chemical weapons on domestic protesters.