GAZA MASSACRE: UN Report on Gaza

Read the report

Key excerpts: UN Gaza report

A United Nations investigation into Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip earlier this year has concluded that there is evidence both sides committed war crimes.

Below are extracts from a UN statement accompanying the report:

[The report ] concluded there 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.

The report also concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity, in their repeated launching of rockets and mortars into Southern Israel…

The Mission found that, in the lead up to the Israeli military assault on Gaza, Israel imposed a blockade amounting to collective punishment and carried out a systematic policy of progressive isolation and deprivation of the Gaza Strip. During the Israeli military operation, code-named “Operation Cast Lead,” houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings were destroyed… More than 1,400 people were killed during the military operation…

The report concludes that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. The destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy which has made the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population…

The report underlines that in most of the incidents investigated by it, and described in the report, loss of life and destruction caused by Israeli forces during the military operation was a result of disrespect for the fundamental principle of “distinction” in international humanitarian law that requires military forces to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects at all times…

[The ]report describes a number of specific incidents in which Israeli forces launched “direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcome.” These are, it says, cases in which the facts indicate no justifiable military objective pursued by the attack and concludes they amount to war crimes…

A number of other incidents the Report concludes may constitute war crimes include a direct and intentional attack on the Al Quds Hospital and an adjacent ambulance depot in Gaza City.

The Report also covers violations arising from Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, including excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators, sometimes resulting in deaths, increased closures, restriction of movement and house demolitions. The detention of Palestinian Legislative Council members, the Report says, effectively paralyzed political life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories…

The Fact-Finding Mission also found that the repeated acts of firing rockets and mortars into Southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups “constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity,” by failing to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population. “The launching of rockets and mortars which cannot be aimed with sufficient precisions at military targets breaches the fundamental principle of distinction,” the report says. “Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population.”

The Mission concludes that the rocket and mortars attacks “have caused terror in the affected communities of southern Israel,” as well as “loss of life and physical and mental injury to civilians and damage to private houses, religious buildings and property, thereby eroding the economic and cultural life of the affected communities and severely affecting the economic and social rights of the population.”

The Mission urges the Palestinian armed groups holding the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him on humanitarian grounds, and, pending his release, give him the full rights accorded to a prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions including visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Report also notes serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial executions of Palestinians, by the authorities in Gaza and by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action, the Report says. The Mission found the Government of Israel had not carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations.

It recommended that the UN Security Council require Israel to report to it, within six months, on investigations and prosecutions it should carry out with regard to the violations identified in its Report. The Mission further recommends that the Security Council set up a body of independent experts to report to it on the progress of the Israeli investigations and prosecutions.

If the experts’ reports do not indicate within six months that good faith, independent proceedings are taking place, the Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the ICC Prosecutor. The Mission recommends that the same independent expert body also report to the Security Council on proceedings undertaken by the relevant Gaza authorities with regard to crimes committed by the Palestinian side.

As in the case of Israel, if within six months there are no good faith independent proceedings conforming to international standards in place, the Council should refer the situation to the ICC Prosecutor.

Ref: BBC

Israeli soldiers criticise tactics in Gaza war – 15 Jul 09

Are you a moral Zionist? Take the test!

Zionism, like other things, comes in various shapes and sizes. I, for one, am a Zionist who doesn’t believe that the State of Israel as founded in 1948 is a good idea; it has to be changed fundamentally to make it into a liberal democracy with a more vital and challenging Jewish component. Political Zionism may have been a reasonable idea at the time, especially if you came from Eastern Europe, but it hasn’t worked out well. When Magnes addressed the Jewish Agency and said that declaring a state would provoke unending war with the Arabs, he was laughed at. Who’s got the last laugh now?
But today, I want to talk about a different division of Zionism, not one of political vs. cultural, but moral vs., well, not-so-moral. And I have devised a test that you can take to judge your morality meter. I know, I know, this is “beyond Chutzpah,” to use Norm Finkelstein’s phrase (so don’t accuse me of plagiarism!), but there is a point to the exercise.
Are you a moral Zionist. Answer these questions!
1) As part of your education about Israel (youth group, synagogue, Hebrew school, Hillel, etc.), you were told that the Jordanians desecrated Jewish holy sites and cemetaries between 1948 and 1967, but that Israel respected Arab holy sites. Now you learn that the Israeli government had a deliberate policy of destroying Arab towns and villages (around 500 of them), including sixty mosques, many of great archaeological value, over the objections of Israeli archaeologists.
Your reaction is:
A. To feel outrage that you were lied to, and to acknowledge that Israel lost the moral high ground on this issue.
B. To accept responsibility for the actions of Israel, to discuss ways of commemorating the towns and mosques, to issue an apology to the Palestinians and Muslims.
C. To say, “Look, all emerging nations try to obliterate the past of their enemies; we are no different from anybody else. So maybe wiping out the towns was not nice, but that’s the way the world works.”
D. To say, “Those ghost towns and empty mosques posed a serious security threat to the State of Israel, and we were perfectly justified to wipe them out. Anyway, if the Arabs hadn’t attacked us, they wouldn’t be ghost towns”
2. You were always taught that the land for settlements in Judea and Samaria were obtained according to law, and that the Arab demand for making parts of Eretz Yisrael “Judenrein” was antisemitic. You now learn that many settlements were built on Palestinian private land, that much private land was declared public land by dubious legal methods unrecognized outside of Israel, and that the distinction between private and public land is actually irrelevant, because all of the land is considered by the world “Occupied” except by some Israelis, Zionist Jews, and Christian fundamentalists. Your reaction to this:
A. To feel outrage that you were lied to, and to acknowledge that Israel lost the moral high ground on this issue.
B. To agitate for the removal of the settlements, and at the very least to call for a complete freeze and a government accounting.
C. To shrug your shoulders and say, “There was a war, and these are spoils of war.”
D. To say, “This is Eretz Yisrael, man; if they don’t like it, they can move to Detroit.”
3. You were always taught that the Palestinians fled during the 1948 and 1967 fighting because their leaders urged them to do so, so they could come back after the Arab victory and loot the Jewish stuff. You now learn that Palestinians were forcibly expelled as part of IDF policy, and at any rate, even those who left voluntarily, or happened to be away at the time, were not allowed to return to their birthplace as part of a strategy to provide a Jewish majority, and that this strategy of transfer had already been discussed by the executive of the Jewish Agency prior to the State. Your reaction is to:
A. To feel outrage that you were lied to, and to acknowledge that Israel lost the moral high ground on this issue.
B. To urge Israel to take responsibility for creating the plight of the refugees, by its sovereign decision not to let any of them back in, in violation of UN resolution 194.
C. To say that the rights of the Jews to a state of their own involved, inevitably, getting rid of a large number of Arabs, and that the justice of Zionism outweighs the resulting injustice to the Palestinian Arabs.
D. To argue that life is tough, that your parents or grandparents were refugees, and that the Arabs themselves kicked out the Jews from their countries, that their own brethren should take responsibility for them the way Jews take reponsiblity for their refugees, that the Palestinians could have stayed put, that the whole damn thing is their fault, and that, anyway, refugees are a fact of life, expecially after World War II.
Well, I’ll stop here.
If you answered A or B to all three, then you are an adult and moral Zionist. Pat yourself on the back, and feel bad about being a bleeding-heart.
If you answered C, then you are an amoral Zionist; or to use the jargon, you believe in realpolitik. We won; they lost; let’s eat. You may use the language of morality (cf. 3C), but that’s just for outward consumption and inward self-justification. The bottom line for you is that even if Jewsact immorally, the only thing that really matters is that are alive to act at all. If “being moral” entails national suicide, then forget about morality.
If you generally answered D, then you are an immoral Zionist. Or you are a moral Zionist, whose conception of morality is that of Tony Soprano or Meir Kahane. In the professional jargon, it’s called “Mafia Morality.” This usually means that you do an enormous amount of hesed work, that you always have guests for shabbat, that you give a lot charity to Jewish causes, and that you would do anything, anything for anybody who is a member of the tribe. But that if somebody is not a member of the tribe, then he or she has worth only in so far as she is good for the tribe.
(I will have a post later on Torah morality according to Tony Soprano (or Dov Lior, or Yisrael Rosen, etc.))
If you answered B to all the questions, then send me an email — we should have coffee together some day.

Ref: Magnes Zionist