Thursday, July 02, 2009

Amnesty: Israel's actions during Gaza op amount to war crimes.

It's the last thing Netanyahu needs as he stands up to Obama over the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, but Amnesty International have released a report stating that Israel committed war crimes when she attacked Gaza civilians and destroyed many of their homes.

"The pattern of Israeli attacks and the high number of civilian casualties showed elements of reckless conduct, disregard for civilian lives and property and a consistent failure to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects," Amnesty International charged.

More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed during the three-week offensive, according to Gaza health officials and human rights groups. Israel puts the death toll closer to 1,100 and says the vast majority of the dead were militants, though it has refused requests to provide a list of the dead.

Amnesty says some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were among the dead. Thirteen Israelis also were killed, including three civilians who died by rocket fire.
The Israelis have made no comment on the charges, although they have previously attempted to put the blame for their actions on to the shoulders of Hamas, saying that their decisions to hide amongst the civilian population put the responsibility for civilian deaths on to them rather than the shoulders of the IDF.

Which would be a little like Britain blaming the IRA for civilian deaths if, in response to bombings in London, the Brits decided to mount air raids on Belfast.

It's an utterly immoral argument. It basically states that, if a terrorist group hides amongst civilians, then one can do whatever one wants and that the responsibility for any civilian deaths resides with the terrorists.

For example, I am sure that the US would have copious objections should the government of Haiti decide to bomb New York in an attempt to kill Emmanuel Constant, the Haitian terrorist who is harboured there. Indeed, I am sure that most country's around the world would quickly condemn Haiti for such an action and lament any loss of civilian life that such an attack produced. And I feel sure that the world would applaud as the US retaliated on Haiti for such an outrageous attack on it's civilians.

The notion that a state can attack another country targeting terrorists and that the state doing so carries no responsibility for civilian casualties is obscene.

And yet that is the official line being taken by the government of Israel. It's simply extraordinary. It fails the most basic test of universality.

And there are plenty of rumours that the killing of civilians was official Israeli policy as a way of encouraging the civilian population to rise up and depose Hamas. And there are even members of the IDF who describe Israel's policies towards the killing of civilians as "unjustified":
In the two months since Israel ended its military assault on Gaza, Palestinians and international rights groups have accused it of excessive force and wanton killing in that operation, but the Israeli military has said it followed high ethical standards and took great care to avoid civilian casualties. Now testimony is emerging from within the ranks of soldiers and officers alleging a permissive attitude toward the killing of civilians and reckless destruction of property that is sure to inflame the domestic and international debate about the army’s conduct in Gaza.
“Unfortunately, I think that selective use of killing civilians has been very much on the agenda for fighting terror,” said Yaron Ezrahi, a political scientist at Hebrew University who has been lecturing at defense colleges. “The army believes that a weak spot of Israeli deterrence is its strong commitment not to kill civilians, and there has grown the sense that it might have to temporarily overcome that weakness in order to restore deterrence.
Amnesty are not even going as far as to say that this was deliberate policy, merely that Israel consistently failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets. And it's very hard, simply by looking at the number of civilians killed, to make a counter argument. The numbers speak for themselves.


Mark Regev appears on the BBC to tell us that this report is one sided and that Israel did everything in her power to avoid civilian casualties.

He then has the gall to bring up the subject of Gilad Shalit. If I remember correctly Israel pounded Lebanon and the Gaza Strip into dust rather than engage in a prisoner exchange for young Gilad.

I said at the time that I thought Israel were behaving disgracefully:
The country that Hariri rebuilt, against all the odds, after years of civil war and after a twenty year Israeli occupation, is being systematically torn to pieces. It's bridges, it's power plants, it's roads, it's buildings, it's airport, are all being levelled. Even the viaduct has been broken.

Beirut, the "Paris of the East", is being reduced to rubble.

And for what? For what?

When all this rampant, disgraceful destruction is over, the Israelis will still have to carry out their prisoner swap if they want their soldiers returned.
And, indeed, when the time came for Israel to do a prisoner swap for two other Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping, like Shalit, was used to justify the Israeli incursion into Gaza and Lebanon, they ended up doing a swap for their remains.

So, Regev has some amount of balls to bring up Shalit's name in the middle of all this. Regev really is, apart from being utterly useless, totally shameless the way he bends the truth. It goes beyond Hasbara.

And it's also worth rembering the kinds of people Israel is holding in it's jails:
[Along those same lines, Omooex also highlights what will be an overlooked part of the story: namely, that Israel is imprisoning "Palestinian women, teens, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians" (including, until his release this week, "Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Sheikh Aziz Dweik after three years in prison" who is "a leader of Hamas in the West Bank [and] espouses a moderate line in the organization"). If this Shalit deal ends up being consummated (and that still remains to be seen), the American media narrative will undoubtedly dramatize the detention of Shalit, an actual Israel solider, even while Israel imprisons scores of "Palestinian women, teens, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians."]
[Emphasis mine]
The chutzpah of Regev is breathtaking.

Click title for full article.


Anonymous said...

There should be an immediate action initiated to bring Israeli politicians OLMERT and BARAK before an international War Crimes court to face charges.

The wanton killing of hundreds of women and children must not be allowed to remain unnoticed or unpunished.

This was an atrocity.

Kel said...

War crimes continue to be prosecuted based on who your allies are or are not. They are rarely prosecuted when the US is your strongest ally. Which is why certain Israeli leaders act with such abandon. They know they will never be prosecuted no matter what they do.