[Marxism] Israel's Crime Against Humanity

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Tue Dec 16 05:58:34 MST 2008

Published on Monday, December 15, 2008 by TruthDig.com
Israel’s ‘Crime Against Humanity’
by TruthDig.com

by Chris Hedges

Israel's siege of Gaza, largely unseen by the outside world because  
of Jerusalem's refusal to allow humanitarian aid workers, reporters  
and photographers access to Gaza, rivals the most egregious crimes  
carried out at the height of apartheid by the South African regime.  
It comes close to the horrors visited on Sarajevo by the Bosnian  
Serbs. It has disturbing echoes of the Nazi ghettos of Lodz [1] and  
Warsaw [2].

"This is a stain on what is left of Israeli morality," I was told by  
Richard N. Veits, the former U.S. ambassador to Jordan who led a  
delegation from the Council on Foreign Relations to Gaza to meet  
Hamas leaders this past summer. "I am almost breathless discussing  
this subject. It is so myopic. Washington, of course, is a handmaiden  
to all this. The Israeli manipulation of a population in this manner  
is comparable to some of the crimes that took place against civilian  
populations fifty years ago."

The U.N. special rapporteur [3] for human rights in the occupied  
Palestinian territory, former Princeton University law professor  
Richard Falk, calls what Israel is doing to the 1.5 million  
Palestinians in Gaza "a crime against humanity." Falk, who is Jewish,  
has condemned the collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza  
as "a flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian  
law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention." He  
has asked for "the International Criminal Court to investigate the  
situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and  
military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted  
and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law."

Falk, while condemning the rocket attacks [4] by the militant group  
Hamas, which he points out are also criminal violations of  
international law, goes on to say that "such Palestinian behavior  
does not legalize Israel's imposition of a collective punishment of a  
life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and  
should not distract the U.N. or international society from  
discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render  
protection to the Palestinian people."

"It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the  
entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to  
survive in terms of their health," Falk said when I reached him by  
phone in California shortly before he left for Israel. "This is an  
increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46  
percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are  
reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have  
caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children  
need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a  
number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans.  
There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people  
without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the  
age of 12 have been found to have no will to live."

Gaza now spends 12 hours a day without power, which can be a death  
sentence to the severely ill in hospitals. There are few drugs and  
little medicine, including no cancer or cystic fibrosis medication.  
Hospitals have generators but often lack fuel. Medical equipment,  
including one of Gaza's three CT scanners, has been destroyed by  
power surges and fluctuations. Medical staff cannot control the  
temperature of incubators for newborns. And Israel has revoked most  
exit visas, meaning some of those who need specialized care,  
including cancer patients and those in need of kidney dialysis, have  
died. Of the 230 Gazans estimated to have died last year because they  
were denied proper medical care, several spent their final hours at  
Israeli crossing points where they were refused entry into Israel.  
The statistics gathered on children-half of Gaza's population is  
under the age of 17-are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of  
children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and  
vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.

"It is macabre," Falk said. "I don't know of anything that exactly  
fits this situation. People have been referring to the Warsaw ghetto  
as the nearest analog in modern times."

"There is no structure of an occupation that endured for decades and  
involved this kind of oppressive circumstances," the rapporteur  
added. "The magnitude, the deliberateness, the violations of  
international humanitarian law, the impact on the health, lives and  
survival and the overall conditions warrant the characterization of a  
crime against humanity. This occupation is the direct intention by  
the Israeli military and civilian authorities. They are responsible  
and should be held accountable."

The point of this Israeli siege, ostensibly, is to break Hamas, the  
radical Islamic group that was elected to power in 2007. But Hamas  
has repeatedly proposed long-term truces with Israel and offered to  
negotiate a permanent truce. During the last cease-fire, established  
through Egyptian intermediaries in July, Hamas upheld the truce  
although Israel refused to ease the blockade. It was Israel that, on  
Nov. 4, initiated an armed attack [5] that violated the truce and  
killed six Palestinians. It was only then that Hamas resumed firing  
rockets at Israel. Palestinians have launched more than 200 rockets  
on Israel since the latest round of violence began. There have been  
no Israeli casualties.

"This is a crime of survival," Falk said of the rocket attacks.  
"Israel has put the Gazans in a set of circumstances where they  
either have to accept whatever is imposed on them or resist in any  
way available to them. That is a horrible dilemma to impose upon a  
people. This does not alleviate the Palestinians, and Gazans in  
particular, for accountability for doing these acts involving rocket  
fire, but it also imposes some responsibility on Israel for creating  
these circumstances."

Israel seeks to break the will of the Palestinians to resist. The  
Israeli government has demonstrated little interest in diplomacy or a  
peaceful solution. The rapid expansion of Jewish settlements on the  
West Bank is an effort to thwart the possibility of a two-state  
solution by gobbling up vast tracts of Palestinian real estate.  
Israel also appears to want to thrust the impoverished Gaza Strip  
onto Egypt. There are now dozens of tunnels, the principal means for  
food and goods, connecting Gaza to Egypt. Israel permits the tunnels  
to operate, most likely as part of an effort to further cut Gaza off  
from Israel.

"Israel, all along, has not been prepared to enter into diplomatic  
process that gives the Palestinians a viable state," Falk said. "They  
[the Israelis] feel time is on their side. They feel they can create  
enough facts on the ground so people will come to the conclusion a  
viable state cannot emerge."

The use of terror and hunger to break a hostile population is one of  
the oldest forms of warfare. I watched the Bosnian Serbs employ the  
same tactic in Sarajevo. Those who orchestrate such sieges do not  
grasp the terrible rage born of long humiliation, indiscriminate  
violence and abuse. A father or a mother whose child dies because of  
a lack of vaccines or proper medical care does not forget. A boy  
whose ill grandmother dies while detained at an Israel checkpoint  
does not forget. All who endure humiliation, abuse and the murder of  
family members do not forget. This rage becomes a virus within those  
who, eventually, stumble out into the daylight. Is it any wonder that  
71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza recently said  
they wanted to be a "martyr"?

The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and  
Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants  
and Islamic radicals. Jihadists, enraged by the injustices done by  
Israel and the United States, seek to carry out reciprocal acts of  
savagery, even at the cost of their own lives. The violence unleashed  
on Palestinian children will, one day, be the violence unleashed on  
Israeli children. This is the tragedy of Gaza. This is the tragedy of  
© 2008 TruthDig.com

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com [6]. Hedges  
graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades  
a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of  
"American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. [7]"

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