GRITtv with Laura Flanders » Phyllis Bennis: Darkness in Gaza: “According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli Defense Forces were instructed to prepare for an aerial assault and ground invasion of Gaza six months ago, even as they were negotiating a ceasefire.
The story begins: ‘Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces ‘Cast Lead’ operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.’
Phyllis Bennis, director of The New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of many books including Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, says that this fact alone belies Israel’s claim that the war in Gaza is a direct response to Hamas rocket fire. Bennis says that the war has much more to do with Israeli and US politics than with stopping Hamas rockets and that their hope is to finish the operation by the time Barack Obama is inaugurated. President elect Obama finally broke his silence yesterday deploring the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel. He said that, ‘starting at the beginning of our administration, we’re going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflict in the Middle East.’
Bennis also argues that numerous violations of international law have occurred. One, the prohibition against collective punishment. The Geneva Conventions state that no member of an occupied population may be punished for an act they were not responsible for. Hamas rocket fire, which up until the invasion had killed zero Israelis, does not give Israel the right to punish the 1.5 million people of Gaza–half of whom are under the age of 14. Two, the prohibition against disproportionate attacks. Thus far over 600 Palestinians have been killed, at least 195 of them children. Seven Israeli soldiers have died in fighting. Three, the targeting of civilians is also a violation of international law.
So the international community has an obligation to bring an end to the war and suffering in Gaza.”