Gaza

Rabbi Shalom Rav speaks out about Israeli crimes in Palestine-Gaza Strip

The following is what Rabbi Shalom Rav writes – I must admit, although simple language is used it is inspiring and heart warming.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza in 2008-09 represented an important turning point in my own relationship with Israel. I recall experiencing a new and previously unfamiliar feeling of anguish as Israel bombarded the people living in that tiny, besieged strip of land over and over, day after day after day. While I certainly felt a sense of tribal loyalty to the Israelis who withstood Qassam rocket fire from Gaza, I felt a newfound sense of concern and solidarity with Gazans who I believed were experiencing nothing short of oppression during this massive military onslaught.

And now it’s happening again. Only this time I don’t think the term “anguish” quite fits my mindset. Now it’s something much closer to rage.

It’s happening again. Once again 1.7 million people, mostly refugees, who have been living in what amounts to the world’s largest open air prison, are being subjected to a massive military assault at the hands of the world’s most militarized nation, using mostly US-made weapons. And our President is not only looking on – he is defending Israel’s war crimes by saying that Israel had a right to “self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians.”

Let’s be clear: this tragedy didn’t start with the Qassams.  It didn’t start with the election of Hamas. And it didn’t start with the “instability” that followed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

No, this is just the latest chapter of a much longer saga that began in 1947-48, when scores of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their cities and villages in the coastal plain and lower Galilee and warehoused in a tiny strip of land on the edge of the Mediterranean. By all accounts, most were simply too overwhelmed to realize what was happening. Some tried to return to their homes and were killed on sight. Others resisted by staging raids in the newly declared state of Israel. Sometimes they succeeded, more often they did not. Either way, Israel decided early on that it would respond to each of these reprisals with a overwhelming military show of force.  And those reprisals and that show of force have essentially been ongoing until this very day.

I realize, of course, there is plenty of political subtext to this latest go-around.  I’ve read the timelines and have formed my own opinions on the latest “who started it?” debate. I’ve also read plenty of analyses by Israeli observers who believe that this was not a response to Qassam fire at all but was very much a “war of choice” waged by an Israeli administration looking to shore up political support in an election season.

I’ve also read a widely circulated article from Ha’aretz about Israel’s recent execution of Ahmed Jabari (the head of Hamas’ military wing). I learned that up until now, Jabari was “Israel’s subcontractor” for security in the Gaza Strip, that Israel has been literally funding Hamas through intermediaries in exchange for peace and quiet on their southern border, and that when Jabari failed to deliver of late, the decision came down to take him out. Another article, written by the Israeli who negotiated with Jabari for the release of Gilad Shalit, revealed that negotiations were still ongoing between Jabari and Israeli officials when Israel assassinated him with a drone strike.

Yes, the wonky side of me has been avidly reading all these analyses. And while I do believe they provide an important counterbalance to the mythic statements by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the US State Department, the more I read the cynical political subtext for this war, the sicker I get. No, this isn’t about Qassams, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s about elections either. It’s really just the most recent chapter in a much longer litany of injustice – the latest attempt by Israel bring the Palestinian to their knees through the sheer force of their formidable military might.

Of all the analyses I’ve yet read, one of the very few that truly seemed to grasp this truth came from Yousef Munayyer, of The Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Center:

The problem Gaza presents for Israel is that it won’t go away—though Israel would love it if it would. It is a constant reminder of the depopulation of Palestine in 1948, the folly of the 1967 occupation, and the many massacres which have happened since them. It also places the Israelis in an uncomfortable position because it presents a problem (in the form of projectiles) which cannot be solved by force…

Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza from 2008 to 2009 killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, but the resistance persists.

Why, then, would Israel choose to revert to a failed strategy that will undoubtedly only escalate the situation? Because it is far easier for politicians to lie to voters, vilify their adversaries, and tell them ‘we will hit them hard’ than to come clean and say instead, ‘we’ve failed and there is no military solution to this problem.’

Like last time, I know many in the Jewish community will say it is unseemly of me to criticize Israel this way while Israelis live in fear of Qassam fire out of Gaza. I know there are those who believe that by writing these words, I’m turning my back on my own people in their time of need. But I know in my heart that my outrage at Israel’s actions goes hand in hand with compassion for Israelis – particularly those who know that their leaders’ devotion to the sword is leading them into the abyss.

Additionally, as I wrote under tragically similar circumstances in 2009:

I believe Israel’s response to Hamas’ missile attacks have been disproportionate and outrageous. I believe their actions only further endanger the security of  Israelis while inflicting collective punishment and a severe humanitarian crisis upon Gazans. Indeed, just as I cannot understand what it must be like to be a citizen of Sderot, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a Gazan citizen at the moment, living under constant air attack, with no running water or electricity and dwindling food, as hospitals fill up with wounded and corpses lie rotting in the streets because relief workers are unable to reach them.

When will we be ready to accept that this is not a “balanced” conflict or even a “war” by any reasonable definition – and it never was.  When will we face the painful truth that this is not a story about one side versus the other but about one side oppressing the other?  Frankly, all the well-meaning liberal comments about “praying for peace on both sides” and leave me cold. Worse, I find them insidious because they simply serve to support the myth that this is a conflict between two equal parties. It is not. And peace will not come until we admit this – until we admit that there is an essential injustice at the heart of this tragedy and that try as it might, Israel will never be able to make it go away through the sheer force of its increasingly massive military might.

Beyond the rage, I’m heartened that this time around there is a growing community of conscience that is speaking out publicly and in no uncertain terms to protest Israel’s latest outrage in Gaza. I am so deeply grateful for my friends and colleagues at Jewish Voice for Peace, who is alone in the Jewish world in condemning this latest assault.  I urge you to read JVP’s courageous statement, which I know gives voice to increasing numbers of Jews and non-Jews, young and old, religious and secular, who are coming together through the courage of their convictions.

At this point in my posts I would typically write “click here” to lend your voice to some kind of collective statement.  I’m going resist that temptation and urge you instead to take to the streets.

I’ll see you there.

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Israel Considers Any Palestinian Infrastructure That Can Be Connected to Hamas to Be ‘Terrorist’

While it is unlikely that the escalating violence in Gaza will be placed into proper context by United States media, who report on it in the context of Israel’s blockade and occupation of Palestinian land, it is also just as unlikely that there will be any meaningful coverage on how Israel justifies bombing civilian infrastructure in Gaza.

Israel decimated the Gaza City office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who was elected in the legislative elections in 2006 but later dismissed by President Mahmoud Abbas. He has continued to exercise authority and is a head of state yet, if one saw the headline at the New York Times they would not see a headline explaining how a Gaza Prime Minister’s office was bombed. They would see one that read, “Israel Destroys Hamas Prime Minister’s Office.”

The Times reported spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, stated, “Government buildings had been targeted because Hamas ‘makes no distinction between its terrorist military machine and the government structure…We have seen Hamas consistently using so-called civilian facilities for the purposes of hiding their terrorist military machine, including weapons.”

Under this concept, it is hard to see how Israel would not be able to justify hitting any part of Gaza and killing any person inside or nearby that infrastructure. Saturday morning, according to Haaretz, Israel’s air force targeted Gaza’s police headquarters, other government buildings and a mosque in Rafah. It also is impossible to see how a cease-fire can be brokered if Israel is going to destroy the offices of political leaders elected in disputed or undisputed Palestinian elections. 

The United Nations’ fact-finding mission in 2009, after the Gaza conflict that year that left over 1400 Palestinians dead, did not accept Israel’s concept of Hamas “supporting infrastructure.” The mission found it “particularly worrying” as it “appeared to transform civilians and civilian objects into legitimate targets.” This made it possible for Israeli political and military leaders to make it seem like in order to respond to Hamas it had to carry out “disproportionate destruction” and create “maximum disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve not only military but also political goals.”

The mission determined Israeli armed forces had launched “numerous attacks against buildings and persons of the Gaza authorities.”

…As far as attacks on buildings are concerned, the Mission examined the Israeli strikes against the Palestinian Legislative Council building and the Gaza main prison…Both buildings were destroyed and can no longer be used. Statements by Israeli Government and armed forces representatives justified the attacks arguing that political and administrative institutions in Gaza are part of the “Hamas terrorist infrastructure”. The Mission rejects this position. It finds that there is no evidence that the Legislative Council building and the Gaza main prison made an effective contribution to military action. On the information available to it, the Mission finds that the attacks on these buildings constituted deliberate attacks on civilian objects in violation of the rule of customary international humanitarian law whereby attacks must be strictly limited to military objectives… [emphasis added]

This indicated Israel had committed a “grave breach of extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

It believed four years ago that it was acceptable to strike the office of Ismail Haniyeh. This was a statement the government made claiming it did not need to distinguish between military and civilian targets:

…While Hamas operates ministries and is in charge of a variety of administrative and traditionally governmental functions in the Gaza Strip, it still remains a terrorist organization. Many of the ostensibly civilian elements of its regime are in reality active components of its terrorist and military efforts. Indeed, Hamas does not separate its civilian and military activities in the manner in which a legitimate government might. Instead, Hamas uses apparatuses under its control, including quasi-governmental institutions, to promote its terrorist activity… 

Because Israel considers the democratically elected Hamas to be a “terrorist organization,” Gaza technically has little in the way of structures for administrative or traditional government functions that could not be characterized in some way as part of Hamas’ “terrorist organization.” And so, that is why it is not a war crime to Israel to hit an office where he met Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil the day before.

The United States, which provides $150 million in military aid or more each year to Israel, has no problem with this concept justifying the targeting of civilian infrastructure. Deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for US President Barack Obama stated, according to Haaretz, “The Israelis are going to make decisions about their own military tactics and operations. What we want is the same thing the Israelis want, which is an end to the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We wouldn’t comment on specific targeting choices by the Israelis other than to say that we of course always underscore the importance of avoiding civilian casualties. But the Israelis again will make judgments about their military operations.”

The mention of “civilian casualties” is a token gesture to a Palestinian people the US is willing allow Israel to continue to subject to a blockade in Gaza and policies of apartheid.

Moreover, Haaretz has reported that Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.” It is hard not to interpret that as a commitment to further devastate Gaza to force it to submit even more to Israeli dominion.

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Netanyahu’s War on Gaza – Freedom Flotilla

Gaza flotilla

Governing lawlessly by any standard, Netanyahu waged war on Gaza since becoming Israel’s prime minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.

Under his leadership, May 31 marked the anniversary of Israel’s barbaric slaughter of nine Freedom Flotilla activists in international waters, injuring dozens more trying to deliver thousands of tons of vital aid to besieged Gazans, suffocating illegally since June 2007.

At the time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon, said they were connected to international terrorist organizations, trying to smuggle in arms. In fact, none were on board nor on other aid ships trying to breach Israel’s lawless blockade.

Caught red-handed in a bald-faced lie, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy said:

“The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs (distributing) false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle….There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy (its) web of explanations, lies and tactics.”

Video footage on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship showed Israeli commandos opened fire during the assault, activists saying it began when they stormed on board.

Al Zazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, aboard the ship, said “a white surrender flag was raised (and) there was no live fire coming from the passengers.”

What happened was clear. IDF commandos planned and executed a premeditated attack against unarmed, nonviolent activists, trying to break Israel’s illegal blockade to deliver essential aid. Cold-blooded murder resulted.

An independent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) fact-finding mission held Israel entirely culpable, calling its assault brutal and disproportionate. Based on eye witness testimonies, forensic evidence, video footage, and other photographic material, it:

“concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation….The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion.”

Israel’s justification on “security grounds” was called entirely baseless. Moreover, prosecuting Israeli criminals is warranted and essential under Fourth Geneva’s Article 147, covering:

— willful killing;

— torture or inhuman treatment; and

— deliberately causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

In emergency session ahead of its investigation, the HRC criticized Israel’s “outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip,” calling it “piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity – unprovoked, unwarranted, atrocious, (and) brutal.”

It described activists onboard as “peaceful, innocent, noble, unarmed, (and) defenseless,” setting the record straight on what happened.

Following its own investigation, Turkey also held Israel responsible, accurately explaining the facts, not Israel’s web of lies and coverup, its speciality.

High Seas Barbarism and Piracy

Israel violated the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Under UNCLOS’ Article 101, maritime piracy includes “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation….against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State (and) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating (such) an act.”

Usually it refers to robbery or criminal violence committed by private parties. Broadly interpreted, it can apply to states committing lawless acts. UNCLOS lets them interdict at sea to prevent illegal arms and drug smuggling, the slave trade or terrorist activities – not applicable to Flotilla activists despite Israel’s accusations.

Its mission was humanitarian. Inspected before departure, its cargo included food, medicines, educational, construction, and other materials, not weapons, munitions or anything threatening Israel. Under UNCLOS, its commandos had no right to interdict or attack activists on board, especially in international waters.

Under customary maritime law, ships have “innocent passage” rights through all international and coastal area waters, subject to certain restrictions.

UNCLOS defines “innocent passage” as expeditious, continuous passage through waters in ways not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of a coastal state.

America’s Defense Department defines it as:

“The right of all ships to engage in continuous and expeditious surface passage through the territorial sea and archipelagic water of foreign coastal states in a manner not prejudicial to its peace, good order, or security. Passage includes stopping and anchoring, but only if incidental to ordinary navigation or necessary for force majeure (a natural or unavoidable catastrophe) or distress, or for the purpose of rendering assistance to persons, ships, or aircraft in danger of distress.”

Israel’s brazen slaughter was lawless, punishable under international law. Claiming it was self-defense was spurious, reprehensible and laughable on its face.

Law Professor and international law expert Francis Boyle said Israel also “violated the SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts) Convention, to which Israel, Turkey and the USA are all parties.” SUA followed “in reaction to the (1985) Achille Lauro Hijacking and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.”

It’s “one of the Conventions adopted by the UN and its affiliated organizations to deal with the phenomenon of international terrorism,” what Israel stands guilty of repeatedly, yet remains free from accountability, ready to do it again.

It’s Coming: Freedom Flotilla Two (FF 2)

On May 31, 2011, Haaretz writer Amos Harel headlined, “Israel prepping to block next Gaza flotilla,” saying:

On the massacre anniversary date, “Netanyahu said Israel prefers (diplomacy, but will) exercise force against anyone (trying) to disobey the navy’s orders….” to thwart an expected late June arrival.

Called “Freedom Flotilla Two (FF 2),” 15 ships with over 1,500 activists from about 100 countries are sailing on June 20 from various Mediterranean ports, calling on UN member states to support their humanitarian mission to deliver medical equipment, educational supplies, construction materials, (including 700 tons of cement), and other vital aid to besieged Gazans awaiting them.

In readiness, Israel held drills, involving ships and mobilized reserve combatants, including surveillance, “based mainly on open communications and Internet sites.” Focusing on riot-control measures, brute force will be used “as a last resort.”

In fact, it’s Israel’s method of choice, showing contempt for rule of law standards. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, in fact, admitted that activists resisting interdiction will be shot, knowing after action whitewashes will absolve Israel’s worst crimes, calling them self-defense, the last refuge of lawless scoundrels.

Knowing the risks, 1,500 courageous activists are still coming, determined to breach Gaza’s blockade no matter what Israel intends. From what’s known, expect force, including “surprises” from the same commando unit that murdered activists last May.

They’re preparing, undergoing “extensive training in hand-to-hand combat taught by experts from Israel’s Shin Bet security service.” More still involving “mock raids aboard a vessel that simulates events aboard the Mavi Marmara.”

Israel calls cold-blooded murder self-defense and international water interdiction “legal.” Others call them barbarism and piracy.

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Revisiting Israel’s Terror War on Gaza

Despite no legitimate provocation, Israel began terror bombing Gaza on December 27, 2008. Invasion followed, attacking innocent civilian men, women and children for over three weeks, using missiles, bombs, shells, and illegal weapons against defenseless people. Mass slaughter and destruction ensued.

Brazen crimes of war and against humanity were committed. No culpable officials were held responsible. Security Council no-fly zone protection wasn’t ordered. International community leaders approved or were silent. Washington was complicit by supplying Israel with weapons, munitions, and encouragement. Obama acts the same as Bush, waging a quartet of lawless wars and using proxies in others.

Operation Cast Lead remains one of history’s greatest crimes. Yet Israel was green-lighted to wage it with impunity, what it’s done numerous times in its history, besides terrorizing Palestinians by:

— illegal military occupation;

— collective punishment and intimidation;

— air and ground attacks;

— isolating Gaza illegally under siege;

— intermittently bombing and shooting its residents, including noncombatant farmers, fishermen and children;

— regular residential neighborhood incursions;

— bulldozing homes;

— dispossessing residents;

— land seizures;

— arbitrary arrests;

— torture as official policy, including against women and children;

— targeted assassinations;

— denying refugees their right of return;

— movement and free expression restrictions;

— violence, not peaceful coexistence;

— confrontation, not diplomacy;

— war, not peace; and

— denying Palestinian sovereignty, as well as equal justice, human rights and civil liberty protections.

Israel is a rogue terror state, a democracy in name only affording rights solely to Jews. Remember Cast Lead, one of history’s greatest crimes. Justice Richard Goldstone documented them convincingly in his 575 page report titled, “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.”

It covered Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza siege, the impact of Israel’s West Bank military occupation, and much more, including:

— events between the “ceasefire” period from June 18, 2008 to Israel’s initiated hostilities on December 27, 2008;

— applicable international law;

— Occupied Gaza under siege;

— an overview of Cast Lead;

— obligations of both sides to protect civilians;

— indiscriminate Israeli attacks on civilians, causing many hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries;

— “the use of certain weapons;”

— attacking “the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment plants and housing;”

— using Palestinians as human shields;

— detention and incarceration of Gazans during the conflict;

— the IDF’s objectives and strategy;

— impact of the siege and military operations on Gazans and their human rights;

— the detention of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit;

— internal Gaza violence – Hamas v. Fatah;

— the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem;

— Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, including excessive or lethal force during demonstrations;

— Palestinians in Israeli prisons;

— Israeli violations of free movement and access rights;

— Fatah targeting Hamas supporters in the West Bank, and restricting free assembly and expression;

— rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians;

— repression of dissent, access to information, and treatment of human rights defenders in Israel;

— Israeli responses to war crimes charges;

— proceedings by Palestinian authorities;

— universal jurisdiction;

— reparations; and

— conclusions and recommendations.

It collected enough information “of a credible and reliable nature….to make a finding in fact.” It established clear evidence of crimes, determining they were deliberate or reckless. An accompanying press release said:

“(T)here is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.”

It explained that Israel falsely used the pretext of rocket attacks to attack “the people of Gaza as a whole” illegally.

A detailed discussion of Goldstone’s findings can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/09/goldstone-commission-gaza-conflict.html

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Report Remembers Cast Lead

In its December 2010 report titled, “The Illegal Closure of the Gaza Strip: Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population,” the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) remembered Cast Lead, saying it exacerbated isolation:

— killing over 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians;

— injuring thousands more, many seriously; and

— causing “extensive destruction of houses and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and industry.”

Moreover, Israel violated Security Council Resolution 1860 (January 8, 2009), calling for “full withdrawal of Israeli forces,” as well as “unimpeded humanitarian assistance” for Gazan victims. As a result, deepening crisis ensued.

On April 1, Richard Goldstone’s Washington Post op-ed headlined, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” saying:

“Our report found evidence potential war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by both Israel and Hamas.” The latter ones, in fact, were minor by comparison, responding only to Israeli provocations.

Israel’s, however, “were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where….evidence (pointed to no) other reasonable conclusion.”

Goldstone, however, softened his initial condemnation by commending Israel’s Cast Lead inquiry, ignoring how all its internal investigations whitewash crimes of war and against humanity – most recently the Gaza and May 2010 Freedom Flotilla massacres.

According to PCHR:

“Rather than uphold the rule of law, the Israeli investigative and judicial system is artfully manipulated to provide an illusion of investigative and judicial rigour, while systematically perpetuating pervasive impunity” for crimes too extreme to ignore.

Whitewash Examples

On April 29, 2009, IDF Chief of Staff, General Gabi Ashkenazi authorized publication of the findings of five military investigate teams. Unsurprisingly, they concluded that:

“(T)throughout the fighting in Gaza, the IDF operated in accordance with international law. The IDF maintained a high professional and moral level while facing an enemy that aimed to terrorize Israeli civilians whilst taking cover amidst uninvolved civilians in the the Gaza strip and using them as human shields.”

It continued at some length justifying brazen Israeli crimes of war and against humanity. In contrast, a year after hostilities ended, Human Rights Watch called Israeli attacks “indiscriminate, disproportionate (and) at times seemingly deliberate, in violation of the laws of war,” condemning IDF investigations as no “substitute for impartial and thorough investigations into laws-of-war violations” they whitewashed.

In his April 1 op-ed, Goldstone failed to explain and denounce them. Instead, he defended the indefensible.

Netanyahu’s (Jacob) Turkel commission investigation of Israel’s Freedom Flotilla massacre also produced lies, distortions, omissions, false conclusions, and exoneration of cold-blooded murder, ordered by top government and military officials who got off scot-free like Cast Lead criminals.

Specifically, it concluded that Israel’s (illegal siege) does not break international law….(and) there were clear indications that the flotilla intended to break the naval blockade….By clearly resisting capture, the Mavi Marmara had become a military objective,” despite on board activists having no weapons and offering no resistance. Saying so was a lie.

In contrast, an independent UN Human Rights Council investigation “concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation.”

It added that Israel’s attack:

“was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers.”

Also that at least six of the dead were killed by “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions,” some shot multiple times in the head at close range.

Moreover, similar tactics were used before, during, and after Cast Lead, facts Richard Goldstone knows and should have explained instead of suggesting civilians may not have been “intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

Indeed they always are under Israel’s “Dahiya Doctrine,” targeting civilians as official policy. Named after the Beirut suburb IDF attacks destroyed in the 2006 Lebanon war, it’s how all Israeli wars are waged. IDF Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot explained, saying:

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

It also prioritizes damaging or destroying assets, economic interests, and centers of civilian power, requiring long-term reconstruction even though international law prohibits attacking civilians and non-military related targets. Israel spurned international law in Cast Lead, against humanitarian Flotilla activists, and in all its belligerent confrontations.

Instead of condemning this policy, Goldstone softened his criticism, contradicting his detailed findings, replicated by other reputable human rights studies, unequivocally accusing Israel of crimes of war and against humanity.

A Final Comment

On March 25, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, urging the General Assembly address Israel’s Cast Lead impunity by asking the Security Council to request investigation, action and resolution by the International Criminal Criminal Court (ICC).

For over two years, justice for thousands of Palestinian victims has been denied. Gaza remains illegally under siege. Meaningful action is demanded. Crimes this great can’t be tolerated.

Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Security Council can request ICC action. Washington’s veto, of course, looms. Nonetheless, it’s high time other members demanded, shamed, and did whatever it takes to assure long-suffering Palestinians justice. Then do it for other victims of injustice instead of authorizing war on Libya when it should have acted resolutely to prevent it.

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