Politically motivated to provoke Palestinians
Published 2006-06-11 16:09 (KST)
The Israelis are a stiff-necked people. They refuse to accept anything less than full acquiescence by anyone involved in their plans, no matter the cost -- human, political, financial, or otherwise. Israel's non-stop aggression against Palestinians - averaging two Palestinian deaths a day for several years now - is much more than what is popularly being coined in Israel and abroad as low-intensity warfare. If international and humanitarian laws are to be used as a measure, the ongoing Israeli killing spree is taking on the shape of a sustained campaign of war crimes aimed to remove the Palestinians from Israel's way.
The recent Israeli shelling of a crowded Gaza beach full of Palestinian civilians spending a weekend by the sea is the latest tragedy in an unrelenting effort undertaken by the newly elected Israeli government to provoke Palestinians, in specific, the Hamas-led Palestinian government. The carnage of this latest Israeli attack (the afternoon attack, not the morning one) left a toll of 10 dead and over 50 wounded. The entire incident, like the hundreds prior, quickly become a footnote in some Israeli military report that will most likely also carry an empty apology for the large numbers of children and women among the dead. President Bush refused to condemn the attack and the United Nations, like a large slice of the Israeli public, will most likely not even take note of it.
In a world that has become numb to Middle Eastern carnage, except if the dead are Israeli, it does not come as a surprise that, at most, the dead are merely counted, hardly ever are they named. The lack of world leadership has moved the international community to completely lose any moral compass whatsoever. The basic fact that one party, the one burying its children on nearly daily basis, is an occupied people, the Palestinians. The other party, the one launching air and sea strikes on civilian populations, and constantly shelling the Gaza Strip is the occupying party, Israel. This core fact of the conflict has become lost in some misguided desire to create symmetry between Palestinians and Israelis. International and humanitarian laws classify an occupied people as "protected persons," and every signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, including the U.S., has an obligation to interfere to stop this cruel and inhumane Israeli collective punishment of Palestinians.
Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as: "Wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including...wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, …or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, ...extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."
International law does not release from responsibility an occupying force because it apologizes for killing those it occupies, especially an occupying force that has instilled a mode of operation of systematically killing and then cynically apologizing.
Israel kills with purpose. Following the rise to government of the hard line Hamas movement to the Palestinian government, Israel is optimizing on the U.S.-led campaign to bring a full collapse of the democratically-elected Palestinian government, by killing on a daily basis of what the world's media has sadly accepted as "targeted assassinations." There is a clear political agenda in the latest round of Israeli attacks. Israel is begging for Hamas to react in kind by breaking its one sided truce that Hamas has held for over a year, despite Israel's continued provocations.
Israel knows that as it continues to cage Palestinians in pockets of living hell, it is human nature that sooner or later the Palestinian government or even Palestinian individuals will be forced into reacting by trying to defend its population, never mind that the Palestinians do not have the means to even dent the Israeli military powerhouse. Nevertheless, by the Palestinians striking back, and sadly taking Israeli lives in the process, Israel can then kick into action its well-oiled public relations spin machine to turn the tables on the entire Palestinian cause for independence and self-determination and thus, further continue the delegitimization and the demise of the Palestinians.
Israel's renowned planning efforts forgot one elementary fact of life. Like with slavery, there was a right and wrong and in the end right prevailed and slavery ended. And, like with South Africa's Apartheid, there was a right and wrong, and the racist Apartheid system fell flat on its face. The Israelis have forgotten that militarily occupying the Palestinians -- for over forty years now -- is wrong too, and their occupation will come tumbling down in due time. Sadly, as Israeli politicians do cartwheels to sustain their oppression of Palestinians, or maintain their popularity with the dead bodies of Palestinians, both Palestinians and Israelis are paying the price with their lives.
The writer is a Palestinian-American living in the besieged Palestinian City of El-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PM's daughter protests Gaza killings
Dana Olmert takes part in left-wing demonstration outside army chief's house; protesters call Halutz 'murderer,' declare 'intifada shall prevail.' Meanwhile, human rights groups send letter to PM, defense minister, calling on them to stop war crimes in territories
Some 200 left-wing activists marched outside the house of IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz at the Tzahala neighborhood in Tel Aviv Saturday evening, to protest the killing of civilians in Gaza on Friday.
Protesters march near Halutz's house (Photo: Niv Kalderon)
The demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Tzahala residents, there's a murderer in your neighborhood," and raised signs calling on the government to "put a stop to the murder of civilians" and stating, "Halutz is a killer, the intifada shall prevail." Activists also shouted, "neighbors, ask Halutz why he's killing children and how many."
Dana Olmert, the daughter of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, also took part in the demonstration.
About 30 policemen arrived at the place to maintain order, but allowed the rally to proceed uninterrupted. Some of the neighborhood's residents, however, were less pleased with the disturbance and squirted water on the protesters from inside their houses.
Letter to Olmert: Stop war crimes
Five human rights organizations sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and defense Minister Amir Peretz, calling on them to act immediately in order to put an end to the killing of Palestinian civilians in the territories, and to "uproot the elements that contribute to this killing."
According to the letter, while it is Israel's duty to take all necessary measures in order to protect its citizens, it is however unacceptable for a sovereign state to employ illegal methods, which in some occasions constitute war crimes.
The groups stressed in the letter that one of Israel's obligations, according to humanitarian international law, is to minimize the ramifications of military operation on the civilian population, and to secure the wellbeing and safety of the Palestinian civilians even during battle.