Monday, March 3, 2008

What the World Thinks of Israel's Gaza Slaughter

This editorial from The Star so clearly points out the ruthlessness of Israel's treatment of Gaza that what I began as an idea to collect quotes from various world sources and personalities on this issue has ended with an urge to quote this in its entirety.

From Indonesia:

"Gaza a Stain on the World's Conscience" by Martin Khor

THE merciless Israeli air and ground assault on Gaza over the last few days has re-focused world attention on the massive suffering of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza.
On Saturday alone, at least 52 Palestinians died in the Israeli helicopter and tank attacks in northern Gaza. An even bigger ground assault is expected this week.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai threatened last Friday that the Palestinians “will pay for it, I’m sorry for their population” and said the Palestinians are facing a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for a big disaster as well as for the Nazi holocaust.

The Israeli justification for this latest round of assaults is that the Hamas-led resistance in Gaza are firing rockets into Israel. Last Wednesday one Israeli was killed, and the next day the Israeli attacks on Gaza intensified. More than 80 Palestinians have been killed since then.

(Note: The count is now at 116 and presumably the Israelis are shooting for a higher goal.)

This latest Israeli military assault on Gaza comes on top of months of intensifying economic and social strangling of the occupied Palestinian territories, especially Gaza, where electricity is switched off, and supplies of essential goods are blocked.
The breaking of many international laws by Israel and the pitiable situation of the Palestinians are highlighted in a news report by John Dugard, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories.

It says that judged by international law, Israel is in serious violation of its legal obligations. The collective punishment of Gaza by Israel is expressly prohibited by international humanitarian law and has resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis.
The report adds that the human rights situation in the West Bank has worsened. Settlements expand, the construction of the security wall continues, and checkpoints increase in number.
On the issue of terrorism, the special rapporteur distinguishes between “mindless terror” and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation.
History is replete with examples of military occupation that have been resisted by violence, for example, the resistance in European countries to the German occupation in the Second World War, and how SWAPO resisted South Africa.
Acts of terror against military occupation must be seen in the historical context. This is why every effort should be made to bring the occupation to a speedy end. Until this is done peace cannot be expected.

The report says that Israel exploits the present international fear of terrorism to the fullest. But this will not solve the Palestinian problem.

Israel must address the occupation and the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law it engenders, and not invoke the justification of terrorism as a distraction, as a pretext for failure to confront the root cause of Palestinian violence – the occupation.

On Gaza, the special rapporteur said in the past two years 668 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in Gaza. During the same period, four Israeli civilians were killed by rockets fired by Palestinians, and four Israeli soldiers killed by attacks from Gaza.
The report details the difficulties faced by the Palestinians living in Gaza.

> Israel has closed most crossings from Gaza to Egypt and elsewhere. Trucks bringing goods into Gaza have dropped alarmingly – from 253 a day in April 2007 to 74 a day in November.
> Since September, Israel has reduced the supply of fuel and electricity to Gaza.
> The only two Israeli commercial banks dealing with financial institutions in Gaza announced that they would cut ties with Gaza.
> Over 80% of the people in Gaza are dependent on international food aid. Fruit and vegetables are no longer available to supplement the food aid. Few can afford meat, and fish is virtually unobtainable.
> The closure of crossings prevents Gaza from exporting its goods, while also preventing materials from entering Gaza, resulting in the end of most construction works and the closure of factories.
> Farmers are without income and some 65,000 factory employees are unemployed, as 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations have been suspended as a result of restrictions. Fishermen are likewise unemployed as a result of the Israeli ban on fishing along the Gaza coast.
> The United Nations announced that it has halted all its building projects in Gaza because it has run out of building materials. This affected 121,000 jobs.
> Those working in the public sector remain unpaid. Municipal employees in Gaza City have not been paid since March 2007.

> Over 80% of the population live below the official poverty line.

> Healthcare clinics are in short supply of paediatric antibiotics, and 91 key drugs are no longer available.
> There are frequent power outages as a result of Israel’s destruction of the main Gaza power plant in 2006. The supply of water is also affected, and 210,000 people are able to access drinking water supplies for only one to two hours a day. At present there is a real danger that sewage plants could overflow.

> Cutting off fuel and electricity will endanger the functioning of hospitals, water services and sewage, as well as deprive residents of electricity for refrigerators and household appliances. A humanitarian catastrophe is imminent if Israel continues to reduce fuel and carries out its threat to reduce electricity supplies.

Israel has largely justified its attacks and incursions as defensive operations aimed at preventing the launching of Qassam rockets into Israel.
But serious questions arise over the proportionality of Israel’s military response and its failure to distinguish between military and civilian targets.

It is highly arguable that Israel has violated the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law, which constitute war crimes, said the rappporteur.
These crimes include direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects, and attacks which fail to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects, the excessive use of force arising from disproportionate attacks on civilians and civilian objects and the spreading of terror among the civilian population.

The Special Rapporteur has done a great service not only to the Palestinians but also to everyone else, for providing such graphic and up-to-date information. In other parts of his report he also argues why it was the responsibility of the UN Secretary-General as well as all states to act to end the Israelis’ violations of international law.
But the rapporteur’s call will not lead to Security Council action, due to the power of the United States. This will again open the United Nations to criticism that it practices double standards, in that the countries the United States dislikes are punished while its allies are protected from actions.

Before signing off, here's another article from medialens, a progressive UK site, on the subject, that also refers to John Dugard's work and his opinion that, as the article put it:

The report, authored by UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, concludes that
Palestinian terrorism is the "inevitable consequence" of Israeli occupation.
While Palestinian terrorist acts are deplorable, "they must be understood as
being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or
occupation." Dugard, a South African professor of law, accuses the Israeli state
of acts and policies consistent with all three.

(Quoting from Dugard's report:)
“Above all, the Government of Israel has violated the prohibition on collective
punishment of an occupied people contained in article 33 of the Fourth Geneva
In the days that followed, as killings and injuries rapidly rose under a massive Israeli assault, we could find not a single mention in any UK national newspaper of this important assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories.

Let alone US media, which is notorious for leaving out points of view inconsistent with the current Administration or "mainstream" (a misnomer that means "acceptable to those in power") opinion, policies, or views.
Who in "mainstream" US condemned the slaughter for what it is?


Anonymous said...

The "world" loves the Jews when they are being killed but hates them when they kill their would-be killers. After thousands of years of oppression the Jews are fighting back and winning.
Too bad for "world" opinion!
I hope Israel remains strong. Should they rely on gentiles to protect them like in WW2?

Omyma said...

What "world" "loves the Jews when they are being killed"? The same world that presumably "loves" the Palestinians when they are being killed? And if the Palestinians are "would-be killers", why do you think they are such miserable failures as killers? Why would they even bother to send irritating-but-rarely-lethal rockets over the border if it were not for the total devastation and agony they live in? What would you think of the "world" if you were on the Gaza side, cut off from life itself and living in an imposed prison called "occupation", an "occupation" of the human soul,its pride and freedom? What if it were the Jews in Gaza not Palestinians? Who is killing who, and who calls the shots?

It's not like Israel is getting weak. They are merely getting nasty, immoral, and cruel. What would Anne Frank have thought of Israel now? Does this policy really represent the Jews? I hope not...