Crime That Stirs Little Courage, No Solid Adjudication

January 13th, 2009 

Carolyn Bennett

“I used to listen to how people talk about hating wars, about all the pain it leaves in their hearts and souls. War is very cruel and we, the Palestinian refugees, have witnessed the cruelty of war more than once. This time, it is the cruelest of all. There is no mercy, no difference between a child, an old man or even an innocent, unborn fetus. All are criminals and deserve to die according to Israel. I stopped hoping for an end. My children have stopped feeling after seeing the photos broadcasted on the news. Children, families—are all the victims of the Israeli hate and inhumanity. Life became meaningless not only for us but also for our children. We, therefore, only wait our turn to join the list, as an additional number, nothing more, but just a number. Our only wish is to die together as one family so no one of us has to live through the bitterness of losing the other.”— Najwa Sheikh, Nusierat Camp, Gaza Strip; “From a meaningless life to a meaningless death” Letters from Gaza—

War is a crime against humanity that stirs outrage and a little courage but no voice or body influential enough to adjudicate it justly and to make the judgment stick for the long term. Where are the enforcers of law? Where are prosecutors, the judges? Where are the courts to hear this evidence and bring these killers to justice?

If Israel has a right to defend itself—all right. But how and what should be the means of a proper defense? And who and what shall defend the lives and future of encamped, occupied, defenseless Palestinians against blind U.S. support of Israel; and, together with international weapons dealers, America’s lethal supply of F-16s, drones, toxic gas, and mega-ton bombs?

On Friday the U.S. Congress under the leadership of a misguided Speaker passed House Resolution 34 championing Israel against Palestine. The lead text of the Resolution said, “Recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” But not all agreed with this prevailing vote: Answering PRESENT were Abercrombie (Hawaii), Blumenauer (Oregon), DeFazio (Oregon), Dingell (Michigan), Edwards (Maryland), Ellison (Minnesota), Farr (California), Grijalva (Arizona), Hinchey (New York), Johnson (Georgia), Kilpatrick (Michigan), Lee (California), McCollum (Minnesota), McDermott (Washington), Miller, George (California), Moran (Virginia), Olver (Massachusetts), Payne (New Jersey), Sanchez, Loretta (California), Stark (California), Watson (California), and Woolsey (California). Voting NO were Kucinich (Ohio), Moore (Wisconsin), Paul (Texas), Rahall (West Virginia), and Waters (California).

Outspoken legislators in other countries spoke more clearly, directly and honestly. Among them was UK Member of Parliament (Liberal Democrat) Sarah Teather. She had seen Gaza up close and on the basis of her experience on the ground she urged her government to take decisive action to end the carnage. “When I visited Gaza I was devastated by the conditions in which so many people are forced to live,” she said. “I saw real human suffering and experienced firsthand the sense of hopelessness felt by so many on both sides of the border. I can only imagine the trauma and misery that this current violence will leave in its wake.

“Rocket attacks on Israeli towns like Sderot are unacceptable and have to stop and Israel has a right to self defense. But the scale of these attacks is completely disproportionate and, by pushing people into the arms of extremists, makes the world less safe, not more.

“… After years of cozying up to the United States, Gordon Brown must use his influence abroad to send a loud and clear message to Israel that their current actions are unacceptable and a threat to lasting peace … It is hypocritical of the Government to call for an end to the violence on one hand, but to fan the flames with the other. Britain should immediately halt arms exports to Israel, as well as suspending the new EU-Israel trade agreement.”

A world body stood courageous in its resolution concerning the war against Gaza. The Human Rights Council, a 47-State United Nations inter-governmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe, today passed Resolution L.1/Rev.2 “on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip, which have resulted in massive violation of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure.” Thirty-three members voted in favor of the resolution, one against, 13 abstained. This Resolution

“Calls for the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory;

“Demands the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from the occupied Gaza Strip;

“Calls upon the occupying power to end its occupation to all Palestinian lands occupied since 1967, and to respect its commitment within the peace process towards the establishment of the independent sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital;

“Demands the occupying power stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and staff as well as the systematic destruction of cultural heritage;

“Demands further the occupying power lift the siege, open all borders;

“Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the violations of human rights of the Palestinian people by the occupying power;

“Requests all relevant Special Rapporteurs to urgently seek and gather information on violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people and submit their reports to the next Human Rights Council session;

“Requests the occupying power to fully cooperate with all the above-mentioned Rapporteurs; decides to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and

“Requests the Secretary General of the United Nations to investigate the latest targeting of UNRWA facilities in Gaza including schools that resulted in the killing of tens of Palestinian civilians including women and children.”

Voting in favor were: Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, and Zambia. Voting against was Canada and abstaining were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

This is Day Seventeen in the war on the people of Gaza. Al Jazeera reports the Strip in rubble, a people made refugees, 917 dead, 4,000 wounded; half of the casualties women and children. This 17-day massacre has come after a preceding 18-month long sanction and siege against the Palestinian people.

Agence France-Presse January 12/13, 2009, is quoting Gaza medics saying that since the start of the Israeli operation on December 27, 2008, “at least 905 people have been killed, including at least 277 children, and another 3,950 wounded.… Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began. Palestinian militants have fired nearly 700 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.”

Finally, Lest We Forget the Haunting, Far Reaching War crime Legacies of the United States in the Middle East/Central/Southwest Asia:

MORE THAN A MILLION DEAD; MORE THAN FOUR MILLION DISPLACED. Updated JANUARY 12, 2009: U.S. Deaths in U.S.-led Invasion and Occupation (accurate figures unknown): Just Foreign Policy: Iraqi deaths due to U.S. Invasion: 1,307,319. Iraq/Afghanistan Casualties U. S. deaths in Iraq 4,225 (all 4,542). U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan: 637 (all coalition fatalities: 1,054). [ figures since March 19, 2003, Iraq: U.S. wounded total 30,879 (estimated in combat: more than 100,000); fatalities 4,210; Iraqi civilians since 2003 estimate: 420,000-790,000; Afghanistan civilians estimate: 3,000-3,400. Iraq BodyCount Civilian deaths, reported from news wires, resulting from the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq 90,295-98,564.

Letters from Gaza (18): From a meaningless life to a meaningless death United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)