European Union Condemns Israeli Predations
Israelis Kill Little Girl, Other Family Members
50,000 Turks Demonstrate
‘Three Palestinian family members, including a six-year-old girl, were killed yesterday in an air strike near Gaza City as Israel rejected a call by Hamas Premier Ismail Haniya for a mutual ceasefire. The girl, her elder brother and her mother were killed in the air raid. Despite initial denials, the Israeli army later confirmed carrying out the strike in the neighbourhood of Sejayun. ‘
An estimated 50,000 Turks demonstrated in Istanbul on Sunday against the Israeli invasion of Gaza, which has left nearly 50
Palestinians dead. Zaman, a Turkish newspaper, writes,
‘ The protestors chanted slogans against Israel and the US, condemning the killing of innocent people and the inaction of the international community to protect innocent citizens. “Butchers of Pharaohs: Israel and USA”, “Wake-up Muslims”, and “Farewell to Sharon, Devotion to Hamas” were the main slogans chanted at the demonstration. The spokesman at the protest, which was organized by the pro-Islamic Happiness Party, said that world nations had turned a blind eye to the tragedy in the region as the Israeli army killed innocent people. ‘
Turkey has a secular constitution, and its military is allied with Israel, but the rise of political Islam in Turkey has put strains on the Turkish-Israeli relationship, and the Turkish public’s disgust with Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories may become a factor in Turkish domestic politics. Islamists are the main beneficiary of the unresolved Palestine issue, which Kadima policies are exacerbating.
It goes without saying that the United States’ own relations with the Turkish public, already damaged by the hugely unpopular Iraq War, are profoundly harmed by these Israeli crimes.
In Bahrain, the government allowed a demonstration on Friday. There is a US naval base in Bahrain.
Friday a week ago 3,000 Egyptians rallied at al-Azhar square in Cairo for the Palestinians, but the Egyptian government cracked down on further attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to hold demonstrations.
If it weren’t for authoritarian governments in the region, hundreds of thousands of people would be on the streets demonstrating as we speak. Since they can’t demonstrate, they turn to Islamist politics and sometimes terrorism. Ironically, a sense of justice denied and outrage over human rights violations can actually turn people toward an acceptance of extreme measures.
The European Union on Sunday slammed Israel for plunging Gaza into a humanitarian crisis:
‘ ST PETERSBURG, Russia: The European Union accused Israel yesterday of a disproportionate use of force against Palestinians in Gaza and of making a humanitarian crisis there worse. It was the first time the 25-nation bloc had made such a sharp criticism of the Jewish state in the crisis triggered by the abduction of an Israeli corporal from a border post by Palestinian Islamic militants on June 25. “The EU condemns the loss of lives caused by disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces and the humanitarian crisis it has aggravated,” Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said in a statement on a visit to St Petersburg. It was released after 23 Palestinians were killed in the bloodiest day of fighting since 2004 on Thursday in military operations designed to stop rockets being fired into Israel. ‘
As always, see the invaluable Helena Cobban on why “they started it” isn’t a valid response.
Of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, already growing last winter, Israeli adviser to the prime minister’s office Dov Weisglass joked, “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.” Of course they will. Anything that makes the healthy thinner has the potential of killing the sick and the very young. And what kind of fascist “social-engineering” joke was that? Why hasn’t this man been fired? Do US officials meet with him? Why?
There was already a severe health care crisis in Gaza before the Israeli government sat down and decided cold-bloodedly to destroy the Strip’s only power plant a week and a half ago. You can’t run a hospital without electricity. And a lot of medicines spoil without refrigeration. Even just keeping food for the patients from spoiling becomes a challenge without refrigeration– so they end up getting gastroenteritis. For patients, babies and toddlers, this situation can be fatal. The United Nations Human Rights Council, including India and 28 other nations, have already demanded that Israel take steps to redress the humanitarian crisis.
Jon Alterman points out that the Bush-Olmert policy of dismantling the Palestinian Authority and creating chaos in the Occupied Territories (some of them now just Surrounded and Subjugated Territories) doesn’t make any sense strategically for anyone. The policy certainly is fueling Islamist revivalism and will result in more terrorism. Mere fear of terrorism wouldn’t be a reason to back down from a principled stance. But when violations of the Geneva Conventions also produce terrorism, then that is bad policy on two counts.
A boycott of corporations making possible Israeli expansionism, and of the products produced by colonial expropriation, is one of the few avenues civil society has to make some sort of feeble protest about the ongoing atrocities against the Palestinians. The Presbyeterian Church is leading the way in demonstrating ethical leadership on this issue.
Of course, it is wrong for the tiny Ezzedine Qassam brigades to fire their homemade little rockets at Sderot, and though they most often miss, they sometimes do harm individuals, which is terrorism. It is wrong for groups such as Hamas to conduct terrorist operations against Israeli civilians. It was wrong for three tiny guerrilla groups to kill 2 Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint and kidnap Cpl. Shalit. They must release him, now. Palestinians who make even more objectionable fascist social engineering comments than did Dov Weisglass are wrong and should be condemned. They should listen to Saudi Ambassador to the US, Turki al-Faisal, who called on them to turn to Gandhian nonviolence. None of these actions, however, remotely justifies the Israeli strangling of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza through attacks on the power plant, bridges and other infrastructure, the criminal kidnapping of scores of elected Palestinian politicians, or the interference with medical, food and other aid reaching people who need it. Or the stealing of more land in the West Bank.
‘ The 1949 Geneva Conventions state, in article 54 of their additional protocol: “Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited”. It is also “prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”. That means that the Israeli army’s latest offensive in the occupied territories amounts to war crimes; it includes the blockade of the civilian population and their collective punishment, the bombing of Gaza’s $150m power station, depriving 750,000 Palestinians of electricity in the intense summer heat, and the kidnapping on the West Bank of 64 members of the political wing of Hamas, including eight cabinet ministers and 22 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. On 5 July the Israeli government said it would expand its military operation in Gaza. Israel has violated another principle of international law in this offensive: proportionality. Article 51 of the protocol forbids “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” Can saving one soldier’s life justify destruction on this scale? ‘
“I am speechless with grief, with frustration at not being able to do anything to stop Israel’s atrocities. All I can do is to inform you and to ask those of you abroad to keep badgering your politicians wherever you live to stop Israel’s government and military from continuing to commit war crimes and from Israel’s senseless refusal to recognize that the Palestinians will not disappear, that they have rights, that they are human beings no less than are Israelis. Ask your politicians to recognize that Israel’s government wants land not peace, that it must be made to realize that its continued wrongs and uses of force will not bring Israelis security any more than it will bring Palestinians to stop fighting for their freedom and rights and justice. The only way to stop Qasams is to recognize Palestinian rights. Force will not quell violence. Violence breeds violence-Israeli violence towards Palestinians breeds theirs towards Israelis.”
Most Israel Lobby propaganda can be fairly easily refuted with three observations:
*Israelis are not above international law.
*Collective punishment is illegal according to the Geneva Convention.
*Two wrongs don’t make a right.