>

Israeli War Crimes & Elections Update

Gaza war crimes

George Bisharat publishes an excellent article in the Seattle Times, insisting that Israel must be held accountable for its war crimes:

“THE boss has lost it,” many Israeli military and political officials, and people on the street, were reportedly joking after their army’s recent devastation of the Gaza Strip. As Israeli journalist Uri Avnery observed, the jest means that: ” … in order to deter our enemies, we must behave like madmen, go on the rampage, kill and destroy mercilessly.”

In fact, the “boss has lost it” is an unselfconscious admission of policies that violate international law, and could at some point be used against Israeli leaders in a criminal prosecution.

Evidence suggests that Israel may have committed at least seven serious offenses during its Gaza invasion: launching a war of aggression (because Israel itself triggered the breakdown of a six-month truce, and therefore did not have a valid claim of self-defense); deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure; deliberate killings of civilians; collective punishment; illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorous; preventing care to the wounded; and disproportionate use of force.

These constitute grave breaches of customary and conventional international law, and some amount to war crimes. Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians were also war crimes, but did not justify Israel’s violations.

What is the likelihood that Israel leaders faced with allegations of war crimes will ever be investigated and brought to justice?

Bisharat is not confident of any international court being able to try the Israeli war criminals and suggests it is civil action which may have the most success in conditioning Israel’s sociopathic behaviour.

Thus, perhaps the “court of last resort” is that of international civil society, whose tools for nonviolent enforcement include boycotts, divestment and sanctions. That route, once so effective in helping to end apartheid in Africa, offers a powerful model for those seeking justice in Israel/Palestine today. Israel is both sensitive to Western opinion and dependent on trade and would likely respond to ostracism.

The UN’s John Ging points out the continuing misery that Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza is causing, whilst reprimanding the Hamas police for seizing aid from UNWRA.

John Ging, the director of operations for the United Nations refugee agency in Gaza, said Thursday that Israel’s blockade was creating growing misery there by choking off basic humanitarian supplies like food, medicine, clothes and blankets as well as school supplies.

He also criticized the leadership of Hamas for letting its police force run wild, attacking a distribution center for the needy to cart off supplies.

“We are neither getting in the volume nor the range of supplies that we need here,” Mr. Ging told reporters at the United Nations, speaking via video link-up from Gaza. “This is creating a lot of misery among the people.”

In one example, Mr. Ging said that the teachers in the schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had worked throughout the three-week Israeli bombardment that ended Jan. 18 to create a new human rights curriculum. But because Israel was blocking paper supplies, the textbooks and workbooks could not be printed, so some 60 percent of the children in United Nations schools lack books.

There’s pertinent discussion on keeping the borders of Gaza open with Egypt at the Jerusalem post.

In the West Bank, an Israeli court has decided to permit the destruction of yet another Palestinian village situated on Palestinian land, for the benefit of a neighbouring illegal Israeli settlement.

About 25 Palestinian families would be forced to leave their homes and agricultural lands in the village of Khirbet Tana, located within the territory of the Beit Furik town, east of Nablus, after the Israeli high court rejected the objection made by human rights organizations on behalf of the families.

Gaza child

Racism in Israeli society is highlighted with the rise of Lieberman.

Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi has warned that Lieberman’s rising popularity reflects a dangerous trend.

“We are talking about a pure and obvious fascist phenomena invading the Israeli society,” Tibi said. “During the last years, racism became mainstream in the Israeli society.”

Meantime, Abbas meets with Gordon Brown whose platitudes are empty without the support of the world’s other hegemon, the US. Abbas also takes another counter-productive stab at Hamas.

The international community must make the reconstruction of Gaza a top priority, Gordon Brown has said.

Speaking after meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Brown said he had urged Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to grant aid agencies full access to Gaza.

He also said it was vital that the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas remained in place.

Mr Abbas accused Israel of “dreadful aggression” in Gaza but said there was no alternative to the peace process.

Gordon Brown said the UK had trebled its humanitarian aid to Gaza as a result of the recent conflict in which more than a thousand Palestinians, including 300 children, died.

He said it was in Israel’s interest as well as that of the international community that aid agencies had unrestricted access to Gaza to help those in need.

“We must do everything we can to help rebuild Gaza and to provide humanitarian aid to families whose lives have been shattered,” he said in Downing Street.

“We must help rebuild Gaza’s economy to give hope that there can be a true peace dividend.”

Countries in the region must do more to stop arms smuggling into Gaza while dialogue between different Palestinian groups must be stepped up to try and bring about a reconciliation, he said.

Progress in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was a “top priority” for the UK and world leaders must focus on the search for a lasting peace in the region with “renewed urgency”, Mr Brown added.

Mr Abbas said the cost of rebuilding Gaza would be close to $15bn (£10.2bn) and the “world must keep sending aid”.

The Palestinian Authority, which he heads, has said it will donate $600m (£408.8m) towards reconstruction in Gaza.

He accused Israel of seeking to “deepen divisions” between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas through its campaign in Gaza, which Israel says was provoked by Hamas rocket attacks.

But he also attacked Hamas for perpetrating what he called “a revolution” in Gaza.

However, he called for Palestinian unity and for the resumption of peace talks with Israel on the basis of approved UN resolutions.

“We believe that there are no alternatives to peace in the Middle East,” he said. “We remain committed to achieving peace.”

Israel’s Meta Plan – the Big Lies Explained, In Their Own Words

“We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return” David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.

“We must define our position and lay down basic principles for a settlement. Our demands should be moderate and balanced, and appear to be reasonable. But in fact they must involve such conditions as to ensure that the enemy rejects them. Then we should manoeuvre and allow him to define his own position, and reject a settlement on the basis of a compromise position. We should then publish his demands as embodying unreasonable extremism.”
General Yehoshafat Harkabi (former head of IDF Intelligence); Maariv, 2 November 1973. Cited by David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East; third edition (2003), p.181.

Israel could not exist without certain areas: ‘Even with the latest means of fighting with which the army is equipped, we cannot defend Israel without Judea and Samaria, and without the Golan Heights.’ Rafael Eitan on on Israel Television, 11 May 1978 Eitan was found drowned in mysterious circumstances in 2004 after criticising Sharon’s plans for disengagement in Gaza, of which he said “This disengagement plan is a historical error and I can prove it.”

“We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker,Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.

“… all the Arabs will be able to do is scuttle around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle” Rafael Eitan [Israeli Chief of Staff] addressing an Israeli Knesset committee in 1983 describing the results after Israel had further multiplied its West Bank settlements. See The Times, 15 April 1983 – From Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War by Robert Fisk; footnote to Chapter 11, “Terrorists”

“You don’t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away … I prefer to advocate a more positive policy … to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave.” Ariel Sharon, quoted by David Bernstein in Forcible Removal of Arabs gaining support in Israel”, The (London) Times, August 24, 1988, page 7. Cited in Imperial Israel And The Palestinians: The Politics of Expansion, by Nur Masalha; Chapter 2, footnote 117.

“In order to prepare properly for the next campaign, one of the Israeli officers in the territories said not long ago, it’s justified and in fact essential to learn from every possible source. If the mission will be to seize a densely populated refugee camp, or take over the casbah in Nablus, and if the commander’s obligation is to try to execute the mission without casualties on either side, then he must first analyze and internalize the lessons of earlier battles – even, however shocking it may sound, even how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto.

The officer indeed succeeded in shocking others, not least because he is not alone in taking this approach. Many of his comrades agree that in order to save Israelis now, it is right to make use of knowledge that originated in that terrible war, whose victims were their kin. The Warsaw ghetto serves them only as an extreme example, not linked to the strategic dialogue that the defense establishments of Israel and Germany will hold next month.”
from “At the gates of Yassergrad ” by Amir Oren in Haaretz, January 25, 2002. [this article has disappeared from Haaretz, noticed today 12/4/11. There’s a full version here]

“Iran can never be threatened in its very existence. Israel can. Indeed, such a threat could even grow out of the current intifada. That, at least, is the pessimistic opinion of Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. ‘If it went on much longer,’ he said, ‘the Israeli government [would] lose control of the people. In campaigns like this, the anti-terror forces lose, because they don’t win, and the rebels win by not losing. I regard a total Israeli defeat as unavoidable. That will mean the collapse of the Israeli state and society. We’ll destroy ourselves.’

In this situation, he went on, more and more Israelis were coming to regard the ‘transfer’ of the Palestinians as the only salvation; resort to it was growing ‘more probable’ with each passing day. Sharon ‘wants to escalate the conflict and knows that nothing else will succeed’.

But would the world permit such ethnic cleansing? ‘That depends on who does it and how quickly it happens. We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.” I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.'” Martin van Creveld in the Guardian 21st September, 2003.

“Without lies, it would be impossible to talk about peace with the Palestinians for 36 years while at the same time seizing more and more Palestinian land. Without lies, it would be impossible to claim that there is no partner for the road map, while at the same time injecting more and more money into outposts that the road map calls for dismantling. Without lies, it would be impossible to promise ‘painful concessions’ in exchange for peace, while at the same time terming people who concluded such an agreement ‘traitors.'”
Akiva Eldar, Haaretz 24 November 2003

“it is permissible to lie for the sake of the Land of Israel.” Yitzhak Shamir, quoted by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz, 24 November, 2003

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians. That is exactly what happened. You know, the term ‘peace process’ is a bundle of concepts and commitments. The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen…. what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did.”

“[Sharon could also argue] ‘honestly’ [that the disengagement plan was] “a serious move because of which, out of 240,000 settlers, 190,000 will not be moved from their place.”
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass in a Haaretz interview, 6 October 2004.

Israel’s hasbara on peace proposals is dissected in Does Israeli Intelligence Lie?

FACT:

It was a condition of the 11 May 1949 UN General Assembly Resolution 273 which admitted the State of Israel to UN membership that the Israeli State accepted the continuity of the rights and claims of Palestine’s ethnic communities in and to their home territories. (This was in accordance with principles enunciated in the 1922 League of Nations administrative mandate which the UN General Assembly has no power to alter without a comprehensive and properly conducted plebiscite that includes a strong element of native party agreement.)

Israel accepted in full the conditional Resolution without which, its UN membership is invalid. Sixty years later Israel still shirks its responsibilities, hiding behind cowardly lies touted as ‘self-defence’ and bullies those who recognise its irresponsibility.

Legal Opinion on Israel’s Occupation of Gaza & Its ‘Self-Defence’ Lie

Signed by distinguished Professors of Law, this opinion published in the Times illumines aspects of Israel’s occupation of Gaza, which didn’t end when it pulled its troops out of Gaza in 2005. The opinion also describes why Israel is not acting in self defence as it wantonly slaughters Gazan civilians.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime

ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.

The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.

The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.

For 18 months Israel had imposed an unlawful blockade on the coastal strip that brought Gazan society to the brink of collapse. In the three years after Israel’s redeployment from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. And yet in 2005-8, according to the UN, the Israeli army killed about 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. Throughout this time the Gaza Strip remained occupied territory under international law because Israel maintained effective control over it.

Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence, not least because its assault on Gaza was unnecessary. Israel could have agreed to renew the truce with Hamas. Instead it killed 225 Palestinians on the first day of its attack. As things stand, its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. In addition, the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel, are prima facie war crimes.

We condemn the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and suicide bombings which are also contrary to international humanitarian law and are war crimes. Israel has a right to take reasonable and proportionate means to protect its civilian population from such attacks. However, the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law, notwithstanding the rocket attacks by Hamas.

Ian Brownlie QC, Blackstone Chambers

Mark Muller QC, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

Michael Mansfield QC and Joel Bennathan QC, Tooks Chambers

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, University College, London

Professor Richard Falk, Princeton University

Professor M Cherif Bassiouni, DePaul University, Chicago

Professor Christine Chinkin, LSE

Professor John B Quigley, Ohio State University

Professor Iain Scobbie and Victor Kattan, School of Oriental and African Studies

Professor Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Professor Said Mahmoudi, Stockholm University

Professor Max du Plessis, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College

Professor Joshua Castellino, Middlesex University

Professor Thomas Skouteris and Professor Michael Kagan, American University of Cairo

Professor Javaid Rehman, Brunel University

Daniel Machover, Chairman, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Dr Phoebe Okawa, Queen Mary University

John Strawson, University of East London

Dr Nisrine Abiad, British Institute of International and Comparative Law

Dr Michael Kearney, University of York

Dr Shane Darcy, National University of Ireland, Galway

Fortunately, Israel’s barbarous war crimes are being documented.

Israel targets children’s hospital and destroys a clinic.

Israeli forces have attacked a children’s hospital in Gaza in a fourth day of attacks after a UN Security Council call for ceasefire.

The al-Dorra children’s hospital was targeted by Israeli forces.

On Sunday, Israeli aircraft also bombed and destroyed a clinic in the Gaza Strip after firing warning shots close to the building.

The orgy of Zionist arrogance continues as Arab parties are banned from participating in the forthcoming elections. 23% of the Israeli population are Arab. Apartheid anyone?

The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.