Horrific ‘Guardian’ reports will stoke international pressure for Gaza war crimes investigation

on 40 Comments

The Guardian has published three videos with statements from Palestinians supporting allegations of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza assault. The Guardian says Israeli soldiers used Palestinian children as human shields for tanks, targeted medics and ambulances, and used drones to fire missiles, sometimes killing whole families. Ilene Cohen writes:

I think we can by now safely move beyond the word
"allegation." Among the conclusions:

In a report released today, doctors for Human Rights Israel said
there was "certainty" that Israel violated international humanitarian
law during the three-week war in January, with attacks on medics,
damage to medical buildings, indiscriminate attacks on civilians and
delays in medical treatment for the injured.

"We have noticed a
stark decline in IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] morals concerning the
Palestinian population of Gaza, which in reality amounts to a contempt
for Palestinian lives," said Dani Filc, chairman of Physicians for
Human Rights Israel.

first crime, of course, was initiating this war. And its
accomplishments? It brought incalculable harm to the people of Gaza and
their world; it did nothing for Israel's security; and it yielded
probably six or seven additional Knesset seats for Tzipi Livni.

From there, the rest is the fallout of war, wanton killing and
destruction in one tiny, densely populated piece of our world. But
somehow the Israelis always seem to do their wars and operations with
an especial–frightening–zeal. It is not to be expected that Israel,
an old hand at committing war crimes and evading accountability, will
do anything about this. How could it when clearly nothing here was an
"accident"? I was not pleased to see a crawling head on the home page
of Haaretz stating that the US has labeled the UN rapporteur for the
Occupied Territories (Richard Falk) "biased," echoing the Israeli
response to Professor Falk, as well as to all others who dare to call
war crimes by their proper name. Perhaps this is not so; unfortunately,
however, it may be exactly so.

But even the United States, I think, will not be able to cover for
Israel this time (nor should it want to). This is not going away: the
evidence is mounting and coming from too many quarters. In the end, we
will not need Israel to complete the investigation–or even to start
it. And it may be that it has taken the atrocity of Gaza 2008-9 to
finally bring an end to this pattern Israeli warmongering against the
Palestinian people. That is–if the response from around the world is
sharp and unequivocal. I hope that is not wishful thinking

The report from The Guardian includes three videos. I hope you will
watch them all. Each also provides the "official" IDF response. Expect
the Israelis to mount vicious attacks against those making the
allegations. We owe it to the victims, whom we have ignored for far too
long, to pay attention this time.

I ask myself: is Gaza the culmination of 2500 years of Jewish history?

Weiss addendum: I echo Cohen's point. Though I wish to say, I believe that Hamas also used human shields for rocket launchings. Per the Guardian: "Human Rights Watch.. said Hamas deployed fighters in civilian homes during the conflict
and fired rockets from bases close to civilian areas, both violations
of international humanitarian law."

40 Responses

  1. george haddad
    March 23, 2009, 9:53 pm

    Israeli ministry of justice lawyers just argued that an israeli arab who marries a person from the palestinian teretories or the arab countries ,can not bring that person to live with him/her to israel because,ISRAEL IS AT WAR WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE.Now they say what we have known.

  2. r
    March 23, 2009, 10:07 pm

    Israelis are filth from the sewer.

  3. ...
    March 23, 2009, 11:02 pm

    r – not sure what your motive is, but on face value your words do nothing to help anyone other then some israels who like to label all opposition as anti -semite, which in relation to your words is a valid label…

    i doubt the usa will adopt a different attitude in all of this… the usa has been sold out for so long it would be hard for them to come up with an honest view.. i wish it was different..

  4. Richard
    March 23, 2009, 11:12 pm

    Mondoweiss readers (from either side) would do well to read these reports (with damning photos) from:
    link to ingaza.wordpress.com

    from a very brave lady who was in Gaza for the past 9 months.

  5. r
    March 23, 2009, 11:16 pm

    How should one react to people lashing children to the hoods of military jeeps while the population cheers?

    The israelis are filth.

    There's nothing the least anti-semitic in saying so.

  6. Margaret
    March 23, 2009, 11:16 pm

    "We live under occupation and we have a legitimate right to defend ourselves. With only negotiations you will achieve nothing … If you don't keep your hands on the gun nobody will respect you."

    Isn't this what we have taught those who we believe rightly come under our domination because of the doctrine of manifest destiny – which is a development of the British ideals of enlightenment and empire?

    What would you do if an occupying force surrounded you, decided that your house was a very nice piece of property and either telephoned a message that you needed to leave or killed your family?

    Who sets the rules? How effective has Israel been at not killing civilians? Is any one safe where war is on-going?

    While I honor the balance of the accusations, I question rules of war that inevitably favor those invading, and never those who are invaded.

  7. ...
    March 23, 2009, 11:38 pm

    r – it is a generalization that doesn't apply to all israelis… we could say as a consequence of these stories that all human beings are filth.. that is a poor generalization also, although perhaps you would like to make that one as well.. in that case it would also apply to yourself… i think it isn't of any benefit to make gross generalizations which is how i view your words here…

  8. Jack
    March 23, 2009, 11:55 pm

    Blah, blah, blah, Israel is bad, blah, blah. As usual there is little to no accountability accorded to the palestinians. They can fire rockets indiscriminately but it doesn't matter.

    There is little to no condemnation of terrorists who intentionally set up shop in mosques and hospitals. Virtually no discussion of how Hamas controls the populace through mob style terror tactics or how they continue to preach hate.

    What a sad commentary that we can't have an honest dialogue.

  9. fultronix
    March 24, 2009, 12:26 am

    what a sad commentary that you are a liar

  10. DICKERSON3870
    March 24, 2009, 1:13 am

    Senator Chuck Schumer said that the IDF is "The Most Moral Army in the World™". Would he lie? End of story!

  11. r
    March 24, 2009, 1:40 am

    r – it is a generalization that doesn't apply to all Israelis.

    Certainly correct. I'd go further than that and say that a number of israelis are incredibly noble, incredibly brave people. The IDF refusnics show inspiring bravery while ensconced in one of the worst Nazi societies in history. Ilan Pappe is someone every Jew should look up to. Amira Hass does all of us proud—a great woman…better than every US excuse for a journalist combined. There are others. They deserve all the support and praise we can give them.

    Let me modify my earlier, carelessly worded statement.

    94% of the israelis are filth from the sewer.

  12. Rowan
    March 24, 2009, 1:47 am

    Margaret, fundamentally I agree with your view that the US empire is a development of the British one, but I would dispute your idea that it originally had an 'Enlightenment' rationale. My own research traces the foundations of British imperial thinking back to the Elizabethan era, and especially to the work of Dr John Dee, who was a mystic, an occultist, very much what we would now call a 'British Israelite', and intriguingly a Welshman. His work has nothing in common with the 'Enlightenment' as normally understood, though one might see a connection with Frances Yates' unusual concept of "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment", her title for her book which is well worth reading but unlikely to much enlighten anyone except specialists.

  13. kylebisme
    March 24, 2009, 2:59 am

    r: "94% of the israelis are filth from the sewer."

    Nah, the filth percentage is much smaller, they are just particularly effective in misleading the rest.

  14. MRW.
    March 24, 2009, 5:11 am

    Horrible videos. The bullshit statements by the IDF were the most disgusting. Those families' stories were the most heart-breaking. This wasn't war. This wasn't soldiering. It was murder.

  15. Rowan
    March 24, 2009, 5:45 am

    The Glickster has gone completely crackers today. Her column in JPost ends:

    Aside from the aid and comfort their reports [of IDF war crimes in Gaza] provide to Western politicians keen to have their pictures taken with Khaled Mashaal, Shelach's and Harel's reports also place every IDF soldier and commander travelling to Europe at risk of arrest and indictment and trial on imaginary war crimes charges before the kangaroo courts springing up all over the continent. No doubt, for their efforts, Shelach and Harel can count on receiving front row tickets to the first star chamber. Lucky them.

  16. Margaret
    March 24, 2009, 6:01 am

    The connection between Enlightenment philosophy and colonization, with commerce being thought of as a civilizing force that would spread Christianity and prosperity throughout the benighted world, has been a feature of several books I've read recently. Such ideas seem to have been common as industrialization took hold in Europe. The Enlightenment aspect of it is what I have the least familiarity with. "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment" sounds interesting.

  17. r
    March 24, 2009, 10:07 am

    The jewish enlightenment freed the jews from the oppressive stranglehold of the moronic rabbinical class, which kept Jews in bondage to their depraved cosmology for centuries. We owe all of Jewish high culture to this liberation–far more significant to out people than the phony exodus from Egypt.

    Jews must wage a second Jewish Enlightenment. We must sever our ties with israel as well as with the goofy precepts of Judaism, which have no place in the modern world.

    Kill God.
    Kill israel.

    Then we will flourish.

  18. Jaffr
    March 24, 2009, 10:45 am

    Zionists respond to Guardian with their own video:

    link to youtube.com

  19. Citizen
    March 24, 2009, 10:59 am

    Perhaps the Israeli's view the Enlightenment principles as obtaining mainly only as between themselves, and this is also how the Brits viewed it, when they too had colonies? Sort of White Man's Burden stuff, and Jewish Burden ditto?

  20. Rowan
    March 24, 2009, 10:59 am

    Margaret, the concept of the British Empire in the time of Elizabeth I had little to do with commerce. It did have to do with sea power, and the dream of a global Protestant empire based on radical Christian ideas about the Millennium, and in mainland Europe this seems to have been associated with radical Lutheranism, as far as I can tell: most of the original European Rosicrucians came from Lutheran backgrounds. Eventually a branch of the Hanoverians was transplanted to England, in 1688, by which time commerce – and Jewish finance – had definitely taken a guiding hand. But in Elizabeth's time it was still unclear which parts of Europe were going to throw off the Hapsburg yoke, which was emphatically Catholic. So, to that extent, the Rosicrucian Enlightenment shares some characteristics with the sort of radical Calvinism that became so powerful in the United States.

  21. Eurosabra
    March 24, 2009, 1:30 pm

    So the Europeans are going to pull out the "universal jurisdiction" claims again. That is going to make life REALLY interesting, because it is going to bring questions of Israeli "universal jurisdiction" back again in a big way. After all, a lot of unindicted Nazi war criminals are swanning about Europe, and a few enterprising Israelis might not want to leave them to God's justice.

  22. Margaret
    March 24, 2009, 1:59 pm

    Phil – I wanted to respond specifically to "I believe that Hamas also used human shields for rocket launchings. Per the Guardian: "Human Rights Watch.. said Hamas deployed fighters in civilian homes during the conflict and fired rockets from bases close to civilian areas, both violations of international humanitarian law." It is, of course, difficult to feel confident of one's understanding of what did happen lacking first hand experience or at least first hand reportage, but that doesn't account for my lack of understanding of what it is those in Gaza were expected to do, when under a full force military assault, that would be within international humanitarian law?

    Gaza is about 25 mi long and between 4-7.5 mil wide, a total area of 139 square miles. That is about the size of the greater metropolitan area of my home town (though in a different configuration.)

    Considering the area involved, and the number of people residing there, I don't understand how the people of Gaza could be expected to respond from anywhere except within their homes. It appears they were attacked in their homes, as well as on the streets, the roadways, etc. What are people supposed to do when attacked as they were? What distinguishes a Hamas deployed fighter from a person who lives in Gaza, and is defending against a military incursion? These are not rhetorical questions, I truly do not understand what the expectations are.

  23. Margaret
    March 24, 2009, 2:04 pm

    Rowan – It's a huge and interesting subject, but off-topic, so I'll refrain from continuing. (Just read a comment from Richard Silverstein about remaining on topic.)

  24. Rowan
    March 24, 2009, 2:36 pm

    I am not a fan of Mr Silverstein.

  25. rykart
    March 24, 2009, 5:39 pm

    Silverstein is a Zionist.

  26. Eurosabra
    March 24, 2009, 6:12 pm

    There is plenty of open space, farmland, roadways, orchards, beaches in Gaza. A conventional military defense of the territory, as in 1917, '48, '56, and '67, has never focused exclusively on built-up civilian areas, but rather on the Anglo-Egyptian military bases and various strategic crossroads–but the non-conventional defense (such as it was) by Hamas seems to have been run out of the bunkers under Shifa Hospital and various private homes.

    Anyone resisting a military incursion through force of arms is a military target, so the romantic distinction you intend to make is moot. We can assume from the size of the organization involved (hundreds of thousands of people attend Hamas rallies, and thousands are armed militants) and the low number of casualties that militants were targeted with some precision. So, really, civilians were expected to evacuate when warned, to shelter in place when evacuation was not possible, and to bar their buildings to militants if at all possible. Of course since you believe Israel deliberately targets civilians, nothing of what I say will matter.

  27. rykart
    March 24, 2009, 7:27 pm


    Quite correct. Nothing you say matters. The IDF are on record saying they deliberately target civilians, including children.

    You're a particularly shitty liar.

  28. Margaret
    March 25, 2009, 12:33 am

    Eurosabra – You misunderstand me. I am not making a romantic distinction. I am saying that the people of Palestine are not a legitimate military target for Israel. I condemn Israel's actions. I am not alone in doing so. Distinctions made about combatant status mean nothing to me, because Israel is an occupying force within the Israel/Palestine territories.

  29. Eurosabra
    March 25, 2009, 12:51 am

    So there's no such thing as a Palestinian combatant, eh? THAT's a new take on the "no such thing as an Israeli civilian" line. And your "Israel is an occupying force within Israel" transmits your objectives FAR too clearly.

  30. Rowan
    March 25, 2009, 2:15 am

    I don't mean I am especially hostile to R Silverstein, though it is a long time since I have visited his blog and I can't even remember its name; I really just meant that I am not interested in his views on how to run the comments section in a blog. Everybody has their own individual comments policies.

  31. Margaret
    March 25, 2009, 7:17 am

    I do try to be clear.

    Please advise: what authority gives Israel the right to enter Gaza and direct its citizens to "evacuate when warned, to shelter in place when evacuation was not possible, and to bar their buildings to militants if at all possible."

  32. Margaret
    March 25, 2009, 7:35 am

    Rowan – I've read suggestions represented as general etiquette for email, blogging, comments, etc. It does seem to vary by the blogger.

  33. Rowan
    March 25, 2009, 11:43 am

    I remembered what I dislike about him, actually: he has the nerve to call his blog "Tikkun Olam". This means, "putting the world to rights", with the connotation that it is the specific job of "the Jews' to do it.

  34. Rowan
    March 25, 2009, 1:28 pm

    Really, the logical structure of the whole set of nested and interwoven alternatives we have to deal with is complex enough to confuse anyone, but it's something like this: for historical reasons, 'Jews', using the term broadly, have ended up to a considerable extent 'managing' both 'our own' countries and 'their own' proposed country.

    If one is talking about 'our own' countries, other than 'their own' proposed one, then the assertion that Jews, using the term broadly, have ended up managing it is regarded as a potentially Nazi one, in that it implies a possible threat to exclude them from such managing roles, in order to gain objectivity in foreign policy.

    Conversely, if one is talking about 'their own' proposed country, then the assertion that anyone other than 'Jews' should end up managing it is also regarded as Nazi,, i.e. anti-Jewish, in substance, even though it is clearly the would-be Jewish managers of 'their own' proposed country who are behaving in a manner which is Nazi-like in terms of form (e.g. Kachist marches through Arab towns, for instance).

    Finally, existentially speaking, all sorts of people of Jewish descent, or with Jewish affinities, or Jewish connections, or even Jewish affections, are trapped in a situation where, in the worst-case scenario, they could end up with no country at all, if their supposed sponsors in the management of both 'our own' countries and 'their own' proposed one lose their respective grips.

  35. Eurosabra
    March 25, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Article 51 of the UN Charter, which allows member states "individual and collective self-defense."

    Israel is obligated to exercise due care in military operations in urban terrain, which means that warning of military operations, encouraging civilians to seek shelter, and encouraging them to separate from militants are a positive obligation, a feature of proper warfighting, and not an imposition.

    Sorry you didn't realize that international law allows states to use military force in self-defense.

  36. Eurosabra
    March 25, 2009, 3:36 pm

    Israel DID effectively police Gaza in the 70s, but the scale and sophistication of Hamas's current weaponry means using tanks and soldiers and not police. What made intervention inevitable was the expansion of the rocket threat to long-range, larger, military-grade weapons. But at least the food aid flows uninterrupted, which is a significant edging of Israeli policy back towards sanity.

    I actually don't think that there IS a solution to a small-scale rocket threat, and fear that Hamas will quite eagerly precipitate an apocalypse. Hezbollah has been deterred, but Hezbollah is not all of Lebanon's government, as Hamas is all of Gaza's.

  37. Jim Stewert
    March 25, 2009, 6:09 pm

    Check out the increase of jewish settlements and their expansion since 1967, and, remembering that Israel has the absolutely widest vision of what "self-defense" means, can you see Eurosabra for what she is? Please fight against your tax paying dollars and your young soldiers being spent on Eurosabra's totally selfish and inhumane agenda. The world was actually not born just to support & service Jews. Ignore your USA congressmen and White House–they've all been bought off. They are not your friends.

  38. rykart
    March 26, 2009, 8:23 pm

    Pro-Israel vermin like eurosbara invoking "international law" is really rather comical.

    The 15 jurists of the ICJ voted unanimously that every speck of WB, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem is Occupied Palestinian land. They rejected Israel's absurd assertion that it was not responsible for the well being of the inhabitants of Gaza and utterly rejected Israel's claim to have effectively withdrawn. They voted unanimously that the apartheid wall is illegal under international law, must be torn down and reparations paid. They reaffirmed, as they had no choice but to do under international law, that Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homes had the right to return to those homes.

    Meanwhile. Israel is universally and repeatedly condemned by the human rights community for its atrocities, massacres and indisputable violations of international law.

  39. Eurosabra
    March 26, 2009, 8:45 pm

    So the ICJ is anti-Israel. Whoop, big deal. Unfortunately, no one in the Middle East pays any attention to them, except Hezbollah, which began casing the Hague for a potential attack if the court brought any indictments against their Syrian friends for the Hariri affair and assassinations of other Lebanese.

    Israel, at least, prefers to diplomatically ignore the ICJ.

  40. Margaret
    March 27, 2009, 5:23 am

    Eurosabra – you have many explanations why Israel is required to engage in constant warfare. None of them makes much sense in light of the mortality statistics.

    If actions repeatedly have a specific result (i.e. high mortality counts) then the results of further repetitions of those actions cannot be held to be unintentional.

    "…proper warfighting" Yes, let's be proper, shall we not. Tea, anyone?

    Does one take tea after the sun has set? Obviously one does continue to use the archaic notions of the Empire to explain and justify rules that were made for the powerful on behalf of the powerful during the last gasps of the Empire.

Leave a Reply