The scenario for the next round is unfolding in front of our eyes and it resembles depressingly the same deterioration that preceded the massacre of Gaza two years ago: daily bombardment on the Strip and a policy that tries to provoke Hamas so that more expanded assaults would be justified. As one general explained, there is now a need to take into account the damaging effect of the Goldstone report: namely the next major attack should look more plausible than the 2009 one (but this concern may not be that crucial to this particular government; nor would it serve as an obstacle).
Today, on the anniversary of the commencement of Israel’s attack of the people of Gaza, many of us reflect on the events of two years ago in mourning and regret that its criminal progenitors have eluded justice, courtesy of the largesse and impunity lent by Israel’s blinkered, biased imperial benefactor, the US and its bevy of colonialist toadies, including Australia.
Israel’s attack upon Gaza was met with a curious indifference by most of the so-called leaders of Western nations. As acting Prime Minister of Australia at the time, the ill-informed Julia Gillard refused to criticise, let alone condemn the actions of Israel. Supposedly speaking on behalf of the Australian people, she said: “Australia recognises the right of Israel to defend itself.” That comment was made on the third of January 2009, by which time it was widely known that 430 Gazans had already been killed and 2,300 wounded in 750 individual strikes carried out by air and by sea over the previous five days.
The Cast Lead massacre was committed with malice aforethought on an imprisoned Gaza population of 1.5 million people, 55% of whom were under the age of 18 years. Israel broke its truce with Hamas on November 5th, 2008 although there had been no actual Hamas rockets during the ceasefire. Nor had Israel cooperated with the spirit if not actual terms of the truce by easing its illegal blockade. Israel automagically, conveniently blames Hamas for any rockets fired from the oppressed Gazan sliver of land. In revenge, Israel inflicts ongoing indiscriminate collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza, whom it has now incarcerated for 1,293 days.
Yet the truce was working, as during the final couple of months, there were practically no rockets fired from Gaza at all. After breaking the truce ,.Israel refused to renew it, even though Hamas expressed its willingness to renegotiate provided the siege was eased. Israel attacked on the 27th December, 2008. During the 22 infamous days of Operation Cast Lead, Israel killed 1417 Palestinian people, 352 of whom were children.
Flaunting the Geneva Conventions, Israel fiendishly, illegally targeted and destroyed ambulances, hospitals, schools, universities, the sole electric power and sewerage plants, chicken farms, dairy farms, crops, trees, police stations, homes and whole villages. Israel made around 50,000 Gazans homeless during winter, then for 18 months after the end of its 22 day attack, malevolently disallowed materials for rebuilding to enter Gaza. Two years later:
Israel has so far only approved the import of materials for 25 UNRWA construction projects for schools and clinics, a mere seven per cent of UNRWA’s entire reconstruction plan for Gaza. Even for these approved projects, only a small fraction of the required construction materials have actually been permitted to enter Gaza so far.
More generally, says the report, the UN has estimated that Gaza needs 670,000 truckloads of construction materials for housing alone in Gaza. An average of only 715 truckloads of construction materials have entered the Gaza Strip per month since the ‘easing’ announcement, says the report. At this rate, it would take many decades to build the needed homes. And because UNRWA has been unable to get construction materials to build new schools, 40,000 eligible children could not be enrolled at UN schools at the start of the new academic year.
“Only a fraction of the aid needed has made it to the civilians trapped in Gaza by the blockade”, said Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International. “Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future.”
Altogether in the Occupied Territories, between 29th September, 2000 and 30th November, 2010, around 1313 Palestinian children have been slaughtered by Israeli security forces, according to B’TSelem.
According to an Al Mezan report from December 2010, over 21,000 people remain displaced two years after the end of Operation Cast Lead. Israel has committed more grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 147) as
careful documentation indicates that the IOF destroyed at least 1,723 shelters after the end of hostilities when they had come under Israel’s effective control. These shelters could not be deemed military objectives. Nor were they near any other legitimate military targets. Their destruction was therefore illegal, violating fundamental international humanitarian law principles, and amounting to war crimes.
Thanks to rejection by the credulous zionist sycophants in the US congress of the painstaking research within the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report into Cast Lead war crimes, Israeli war criminals responsible for the planning and execution of the heinous Cast Lead massacre still walk free, with no justice attained for, nor compensation paid to Israel’s civilian victims.
‘Despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.’
Though the resistance of Palestinians who endure it is unflinching, and international boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israeli apartheid and occupation are flourishing, Israel’s pitiless, illegal siege remains.
Israel’s harvest from its vindictive, cruel folly is bitter – as Nelson Mandela said, “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he’s locked behind bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.” Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their freedom. How much hatred, prejudice and narrow-mindedness imprisons Israel?
Palestinians deserve long overdue justice to be brought to their oppressors, for the hideous illegal siege to be lifted completely and for Israel’s aggression and expansionism to end. Join the #Gaza2 Campaign on twitter and post on your blog to remind the people of Palestine that neither they nor the calamities and evils inflicted on them during Operation Cast Lead by Israel and its collaborators are forgotten.
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