In his farewell address last night, President Bush boasted that he has promoted “human rights and human dignity” around the world. Also yesterday, Israel shelled a U.N. compound in Gaza, alleging that the compound was sheltering Hamas militants. The attacks set fire to “badly-needed aid” for local residents.
In today’s White House press briefing — the last of Bush’s tenure in office — Press Secretary Dana Perino indicated that Bush would not be condemning the attacks and claimed that Bush had shown “unending support for the Palestinians.” Perino said that she would “let the Israeli’s speak to it”:
Q Yes, I do. I wanted to know, considering the President’s undiluted support of Israel, what does he think of Israel bombing the U.N. buildings that became sanctuaries for Palestinians?
PERINO: Well, obviously — while the President has had support of Israel, he has also shown unending support for Palestinians, and especially because he is the first President ever to promote a two-state solution. … Now, on that particular incident, I’ll let the Israelis speak to it, but obviously they had to take great care to make sure that civilians are protected.
Q How can these bombs discriminate between people in such a highly —
PERINO: One of the problems is that Hamas, which is a terrorist organization, hides amongst innocent people and uses them as human shields.
The U.S. is looking increasingly isolated by shying away from condemning the strikes, defying what seems to be a growing international coalition. One of Bush’s strongest allies, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said that “no one could defend” the attack which, he said, showed that a ceasefire was “absolutely essential.’
The EU’s aid chief remarked, “I have made it very clear that all sides must respect international humanitarian law. It is unacceptable that the U.N. headquarters in Gaza has been struck by Israeli artillery fire.” Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and France have also condemned the attacks.