Michael Riordon

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Gaza: Why do Israel and the U.S. insist on war?

Gaza, July 27Gaza City, July 27, 2014.  Photo: Oxfam International.

“For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza.  Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza.”

Why?

The answer is here, in a well-documented account by Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, and an associate professor at the University of Southern California

The only practical response that does not depend on goodwill or common sense from the Israeli or American authorities: the growing international grassroots movement for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions.

 


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Gaza: what next?

According to mainstream media, the terms of a ‘cease-fire’ are currently in negotiation between the elected government of Gaza and the elected government of Israel.

In a tweet posted August 5, a spokesman for the Israeli military wrote: “Mission accomplished.”

Gaza in ruins“Mission accomplished”

What the latest Israeli mission accomplished:

  • 1,938 Palestinians killed, 1,626 of them civilians, including 460 children and 246 women
  • 7,920 wounded, mostly civilians, including 2,111 children and 1,415 women;
  • 800 houses destroyed and thousands of others severely damaged
  • Many thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced
  • The impact of Israel’s intentional destruction of health and education facilities, and water, sewage and electric infrastructure is beyond imagining.

August 5, the same day Israel declared “Mission accomplished,” US President Obama signed a $225 million cheque, approved by Congress, to resupply Israel with missiles.

What next?

In a searing cry for elemental justice, Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, writes from inside the “cage” that is Gaza: “A ceasefire is not enough.  It will not end the suffering.  It will only move us from the horror of death by bombardment to the horror of death by slow strangulation.  We cannot go back to being prisoners in a cage that Israel rattles when it chooses with brutal destructive offensives.”

Please read his eloquent call to the world, and give it wings by passing it on.  It’s the least we can do.


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“Crimes against humanity”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is notoriously fearful of scolding Israel, even as it commits overt war crimes.  But he was sufficiently shocked by Israel’s August 3 bombing of a UN-run school in Gaza (the 6th attack by Israel on a Gaza school) to call it a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.  He confirmed that Israel had been “repeatedly informed of the location of these sites.”  UN schools are designated safe areas for people fleeing Israeli attacks.  An estimated 10 people died in the latest school bombing.

Calling the attack a “gross violation of international humanitarian law,” the UN Secretary General demanded that those responsible be held to account.  More detail here.

International legal authority Michael Ratner puts these charges in a longer perspective. President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, based in New York, and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, based in Berlin, he explained in a July 27 interview:

“These killings are part of a broader set of inhuman acts by Israel constituting international crimes, carried out by Israel over many years, going back to at least 1947 and 1948.  They include crimes that aren’t talked about that much in the media or the press, the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and apartheid.  These crimes can be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.”  The interview is here.

All attempts to prosecute Israel for war crimes have been blocked for decades, primarily by the United States, to ensure that Israel enjoys the same blanket impunity from international law that the US assumes for itself.

After Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza, the same could happen again.  And again.

Or not.