Israel’s two big provocations of April 1

Helena Cobban
5 min readApr 7, 2024


Here are some quick thoughts on the two big military provocations the Israeli government undertook last Monday, April 1. The first, which was undoubtedly deliberate, was the missile attack it launched against an Iranian consular building in Damascus that leveled the building and killed at least five people and possibly as many as 13. Those killed included some high-ranking Iranian military commanders.

On Tuesday, at the request of the governments of Iran, Syria, and Russia, the U.N. Security Council considered the threat that that attack posed to international peace and security. (Attacks on consular premises are judged unlawful under the Charter of the United Nations as well as Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963 on on, respectively, Diplomatic and Consular Relations.)

On Wednesday, the government of the United States, Britain, and France prevented the Security Council from issuing any joint statement that would have condemned the attack. That, while Israeli and U.S. forces located across West Asia (the ‘Middle East’) braced for an expected response from the Iranian military.

Meantime, the corporate media in most Western countries were devoting most of their attention to the second of Israel’s April 1 outrages: the deadly attack that Israeli drone operators in Gaza undertook late that evening against three separate vehicles in a convoy run by the Washington-backed aid organization World Central Kitchen. The Israelis killed seven of WCK’s logistics staff, including citizens of Poland, the UK, Australia, a joint US-Canadian citizen, and a (presumably stateless) Palestinian.

Outrage against these killings was speedy and loud throughout the Western world. A few Western news outlets did also note that Israel had already, during the past six months, killed more than 200 aid workers employed by other organizations- mostly, Palestinians employed by UNRWA and other UN bodies- without suffering any sanction from Western leaders. (So no wonder it came to feel it could act with virtual impunity on a continuing basis… )

But this time, it was different. These aid workers were nearly all “White” Westerners. And WCK leader José Andrés has for a while been a popular figure in the halls of power in Washington.

Plus, for some months now, USAID and other Biden administration bodies have been actively promoting plans to use WCK and a very shadowy org called “Fogbow” to work closely with Israel, the UAE, and other U.S. allies to do the food-delivery into Gaza that for many decades now has been coordinated by UNRWA, the World Food Program, and other U.N. bodies. The involvement of non-UN bodies in this U.S.-Israeli planning can very plausibly be understood as part of the continuing U.S.-Israeli push to dismantle UNRWA and diminish the role of all the other U.N. bodies.

By the way, the banner image at the head of this short essay comes from this WFP map (PDF). The little icon there that looks like a flower, or a gear, represents “Coordination”- which is coordination with the Israelis, which means that the IDF’s COGAT body likely has operatives in all those places to coordinate shipments and routes.

This matter of who gets to control the humanitarian aid shipments that are so desperately needed, into Gaza right now, is closely tied to the question of which body will get to control the massive rebuilding project that Gaza will need after a lasting ceasefire goes into place. I have argued for some months now that, given Israel’s truly inhumane, genocidal record in Gaza over many years and especially over the past half-year, when the desperately needed permanent ceasefire is finally won it should be the United Nations that takes over the rebuilding role along with, for a short period of time, the entire governance of Gaza… and that the U.N. thereby declare Israel’s brutal, 57-year military occupation of Gaza to be ended.

Let’s all hope, pray, and work hard for that outcome!

Meantime, though- and this is not just a footnote in the history of West Asia- the government of Israel has continued to work hard to keep the Biden administration and the rest of the world on edge by continually stoking tensions against Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran. Monday’s attack against Damascus was just the latest in a string of military assaults that Israel has launched since October 7 against targets in Syria and Lebanon, many of them hundreds of kilometers away from Israel.

As I had argued here and elsewhere, those attacks have served the purpose of keeping Washington on edge as it fears that a much broader eruption of violence would also engulf the many bases and outposts that the U.S. military has throughout the region. And by keeping those escalation threats well-stoked, Israel has helped to damp down any inclination Pres. Biden might have to rein in the genocidal cruelty that Israel continues to deploy, with strong U.S. backing, against the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Mid-week, in response to the killings of the WCK staffers, Biden made several statements that were his sternest yet about the need for Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, and mentioned the fact that if it didn’t do so, then may U.S. policy might have to undergo some unspecified kind of “change.”. But he still didn’t establish any clearcut benchmarks of his own regarding what it was that Israel needed to do- 500 aid trucks per days, or similar. And he did not join the call for that José Andrés had issued, that Israel’s attacks against the WCK staffers n eeded to be be investigated by a credible international body, rather than, as so often before, by the Israeli military itself.

(Israel did indeed put on a speedy performance of a self-investigation and, despite a little equally performative handwringing- but no clear apology- Israeli leaders have seemed confident that they can resume their genocidal actions in Gaza with only the few minimal adjustments that might be required to keep Pres. Biden off their backs.)

And so it goes on…

Originally published at on April 7, 2024.



Helena Cobban

Veteran analyst of global affairs, w/ some focus on West Asia. Pres., Just World Educational. Writes at