Tag Archives: Gaza

UN Human Rights Council Backs Goldstone Report

The Israel government is furious at the action of the UN Human Rights Council voting to refer the Goldstone Report to the Security Council. The UK and France did their best to halt the vote on ground there should be further discussion between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over ways to have issues raised by the report handled at the local level. Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu was upset that France and the UK abstained from the vote. The bottom line is there is need for the Goldstone Report to be examined and its recommendations implemented. Robert Goldstone is an eminent legal authority who insisted he be allowed to investigate the actions of both sides during the Gaza invasion. His report identifies war crimes on the part of both Israel and Hamas.

If the Israel government had quickly moved to investigate crimes committed by members of the Israel Defense Force, this entire issue would never have gone to the Security Council. Goldstone urged both Israel and Hamas to conduct their own investigations and now Israel yells it is being persecuted. The major problem with modern Israel is a refusal to engage in self reflective examination of behavior. The IDF made some terrible mistakes during the invasion–as did Hamas– in terms of human rights. Israel lives in self delusion that no action on their part is ever wrong– it is always the fault of anti-Semites.

The men and women who founded modern Israel were individuals who were committed to social justice, not merely for Jews, but for all inhabitants of their nation. Isn’t it time Israelis returned to the ideals of their founders?

UN Report–Plague On Both Heads

Judge Richard Goldstone who was asked by the UN to investigate Israel’s invasion of Gaza is expected to hand down a report which, in essence, says a plague on both your houses. Israel refused to cooperate with his 15 member commission on grounds one nation was being singled out while countries such as Sri Lanka which have violated human rights for years have gotten a pass. The commission is expected to condemn Israel for human rights violations during its invasion of Gaza, but it also will criticize Hamas for bombarding Israel for years with over 12,000 rockets.

Israel has conceded that at least 1166 Palestinians died during the fighting while only nine Israelis were killed of whom three were civilians. Any impartial study of this conflict must conclude that while Israel had justification for taking action in light of constant rocket attacks, the death of 1166 Palestinians of whom the majority were civilian, is a response that went too far. There simply were too many examples of killing civilians due to excessive force by the IDF.

Hamas Crushes Challenge In Gaza

Hamas crushed the strongest challenge to its rule of Gaza since it assumed control two years ago. It targeted Jund Ansar Allah–the Soldiers of the Companions of God, one of several small radical groups that make Hamas come across as mild mannered. In the fighting at least 24 were killed including a prominent Hamas leader as well as the head of the radical militants. Radicals have endeavored to increase violence not only toward Israel but the western world.

On Friday, Hamas security forces surrounded a mosque in which 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah were gathered. Their leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa had declared Hamas an Islamic emirate state which would be ruled by Sharia law. Reports indicate Moussa killed a mediator sent to persuade him to surrender and then committed suicide. Fighting continues around the mosque as Hamas seeks to completely destroy the group.

The good news of the crackdown is an indication that Hamas wants to avoid radicalism and ensure no more rockets are fired into Israel. Perhaps, if Israel reached out to congratulate Hamas on crushing radical Muslim groups it would be a first step in the initiation of dialogue.

Horror Of Honor Killing!

Once again the world has to read about an example of a father or mother or brother or uncle or cousin who decides a female in their Muslim family did something inappropriate which means they must be killed. Jawdat Naijar discovered his 27 year-old daughter owned a cell phone which led him to the logical conclusion she was up to no good. He suspected she committed the heinous crime of using the phone to talk to a man–a man, that is, who was not a member of the family. Mr. Naijar proudly turned himself in to the police and they soon found the battered body of his daughter, her head and face were bloodied and her entire body was covered with bruises. It appears dad beat her with an iron chain and punched his own daughter for about forty minutes–all in the name of “family honor.”

The usual “punishment” for honor killings in Gaza ranges from about six months to three years in prison. Unfortunately, the daughter is dead because she had the unfortunate honor of being born into a family of thugs and killers.

P.S. How come no men are beaten with chains and killed because they had sex with single women?

What Happened In Gaza?

The invasion of Gaza will haunt Israelis for many years as evidence emerges that what was officially portrayed as a defensive action contained many aspects which were at variance with Israel law and morality. An Israel activist group, “Breaking The Silence” now offers testimony and videos which depict violations of international law on the part of Israel soldiers. Soldiers are quoted saying they were given orders, “better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy” and they were warned in urban warfare anyone and everyone is your enemy. Entire streets and areas in Gaza were razed to minimize the risk of enemy snipers being able to hide. According to one soldier, “we did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved, but we were generally instructed if you feel threatened, shoot.”

After the invasion concluded, Defense Minister Barak asserted the Israel army was the most moral in the world and it was unconscionable that anyone would question the army’s conduct. However, it is clear from actions of the Israel army they entered a fight in which one goal was to minimize casualties to soldiers and if that meant increasing casualties for civilians, so be it.

Unfortunately, the report can not reveal names of soldiers who gave testimony.

Amnesty International Charges Israel With War Crimes

Amnesty International(AI) charged that Israel military forces during their invasion of Gaza destroyed thousands of homes in attacks that border on any definition of war crimes. AI urged the Israel government to pledge its military forces will not use artillery, white phosphorous and other imprecise weapons in densely populated areas. On the other hand, AI urged Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel and attacking innocent civilians. The Amnesty International report raises many questions such as why high precision weapons like tank shells and air delivered bombs and missiles “killed so many children and other civilians.” It is apparent the death of at least 900 civilians in what was supposed to be an offense to destroy enemy military forces should not have also resulted in the death of so many civilians.

Israel military authorities rejected the report’s conclusion and argued it did not reflect “the unbearable reality of nine years of incessant and indiscriminate rocket fire on the citizens of Israel.” This is a valid point, but it ignores that the nine years of rocket attacks did not result in other than a handful of deaths. The issue is not whether Israel had a right to defend itself. The issue is the disproportionate number of Gaza civilian deaths in what was supposed to be a military operation.

Israel Blasts UN Report On Gaza

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations blasted a report by UN Humanitarian Affairs chief, John Holmes which sharply criticized actions in Gaza that resulted in the death of hundreds of Gaaza civilians. Gabriela Shaley charged the report was biased and ignored the fact thousands of rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza. “The report completely ignores the context in which Israel’s defensive actions were taken.” A defensive tone increasingly characterizes Israel’s respond to any critical comments directed toward its government. The Netanyahu government has still to grasp that George Bush no longer is in charge of American foreign policy and there is no one in the American government who automatically supports any action on the part of Israel.

A defensive tone will only go so far. The Obama administration is taking a proactive stance toward the Palestinian-Israel conflict. It waits in vain for a proactive stance from Netanyahu who believes whatever Israel has done in the past can not be changed. The American Congress which has completely supported Israel for decades is now asking questions and demanding changes not cosmetic smoothing over of West Bank policy. The world awaits a proactive Israel statement on foreign policy which outlines concrete steps to curtail West Bank building and lift the embargo in Gaza which only serves to strengthen Hamas, not damage its power.

It is time for Israel to look forward and cease returning to the past to justify every violation of human rights.

Gaza Flare Up By Militant Group

One of the most difficult aspects of bridging the gap of trust between Israelis and Palestinians is the presence of militant groups in both camps. West Bank settlers attack innocent Palestinians, destroy their crops and constantly seek to expand their housing. Yesterday, a small group of men approached the boundary of Gaza and attempted to plant explosives. They had several horses laden with explosives which somehow they planned to get into Israel and use in a terror attack. Israeli border guards spotted the men and killed them. Within a few hours a group which identified itself as the Soldiers of the Companions of God claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas then praised the fallen men as martyrs.

The ironic aspect of this minor incident is that Hamas has been quiet and has avoided resorting to violence during the past few months. It would appear in their self interest to condemn these small groups who only cause more problems for those who seek to establish stability and peace in the region.

World Reaction To Obama Speech

The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, published comments from people concerning reactions to the Obama speech. We print some excerpts of those comments.

Abdullah Gul, President of Turkey: “I find his position on regional peace very appropriate… With the message and assurances he gave today, the US president showed that he is a constructive leader with whom Muslim countries can engage in partnership for peace and stability in the region.”

Rabil Abu Rdainah of Palestinian Government: “His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians… is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is build on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Fawzi Barhum, speaking for Hamas: “It had many contradictions, al the while reflecting tangible change.”

Ali Al-Dabbagh, speaking for Iraq government: “The speech was historic and important and reflects a positive direction for the new administration and it is a new start…. The government of Iraq is comfortable with the clarity of the president in respecting commitments to Iraq and the timetable for withdrawal stipulated in the security pact.”

Mohamed Habib, of Muslim Brotherhood: “It’s a public relations address more than anything else.”

There apparent is a wide divergence among Muslims in the world how they interpret the Obama speech.

“At Least He’s Better Than Bush!”

Customers at the Delice shop in Gaza watched the speech by President Barack Obama in quiet silence, nodding at certain points when he gave a direct message to Israel to lift the siege on Palestinians and work for a two state solution. Ehab Qishawi, diplomat in Gaza, said “he touched our emotions, especially when he quoted from the Qur’an. His words were good, but up to now we haven’t seen any policies on the ground. That’s what we are waiting for.” Other customers repeated the refrain about words being spoken, but no evidence of any changes in their lives or the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. There is a growing sense that too much time has been spent in meetings which conclude with statements, but life goes on as before and there is no change in the conditions people confront on a daily basis.

Asad Abu Shark, a professor at Al-Azhar University, summed up the general feeling in the Middle East. “Any American gesture in the right direction is welcome. If the Americans want an even-handed policy, we welcome that, but actions speak louder than words.”

The next step is up to Israel. Can it meet the challenge of taking a risk for peace?