Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UN Report on Israeli, Palestinian War Crimes Seeks International Criminal Court Referral

Today's post is from Tikun Olam: Make the World a Better Place - essays on politics, culture and ideas about Israeli-Arab peace and world music, a blog by Richard Silverstein.

I like this blog, belonging to an American Jewish writer who describes it, "one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs," which he began in 2003. I am committed to building bridges between, not only myself (American Christians/Lutherans) and Palestinian Christians, but also between myself and American Jewish people who are interested in finding ways to build peace in the Middle East. Richard Silverstein seems to be one such partner. Take a look at his latest posting, which provides a succinct, ease-to-understand description of the UN findings on the January war in Gaza. Like much of what I read about Israeli-Palestinian relationships today, these findings are very disturbing.

UN Report Finds Evidence of Israeli, Palestinian War Crimes, Seeks International Criminal Court Referral

Photo: Richard Goldstone inspecting damage from Gaza war (Ashraf Amra/ AP)

The respected South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, just released his long-awaited report for the UN Human Rights Council on human rights violations leading up to, and during the Gaza war. He found significant evidence of war crimes by both Israeli and Palestinian forces. Here is how the N.Y. Times characterized the elements of the report dealing with Israel:

…Though the 575-page report condemned rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups against Israeli civilians, it reserved its harshest language for Israel’s treatment of the civilian Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, both during the war and through the longer-term blockade of the territory. The report called Israel’s military assault on Gaza “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

…The report focussed on 36 cases that it said constituted a representative sample. In 11 of these episodes, it said the Israeli military carried out direct attacks against civilians, including some in which civilians were shot “while they were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags.”

In all but one of these civilian attacks, the report said, “the facts indicate no justifiable military objective” for them.

The report cited other possible crimes by the Israelis, including “wantonly” destroying food production, water and sewerage facilities; striking areas, in an effort to kill a small number of combatants, where significant numbers of civilians were gathered; using Palestinians as human shields; and detaining men, women and children in sand pits. It also called Israel’s use of weapons like white phosphorus “systematically reckless,” and called for banning it in urban areas.

…The panel rejected the Israeli version of events surrounding several of the most contentious episodes of the war.

Israel’s mortar shelling near a United Nations-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, which was sheltering some 1,300 people, killed 35 and wounded up to 40 people, the report said. Read more.....

1 comment: said...

We should be mindful that Hamas rockets did no harm to anyone in Israel and only a few IDF were killed during their raid on Gaza. I don't blame the Gazeans for being pissed as "Israelis" sit on their land eating their food while the Palestinian owners are starving refugees! How can anyone say that the Palestinians are guilty of war crimes for anything they do to the people who take the food right out of the mouths of their parents and children? We couldn't respect them if they didn't fight back! And these "Israelis" walk in their shoes as if they are the Palestinians! Changing the name of Palestine to Israel does not hide the clear cut fact of identity theft! That in itself is criminal. Is it not clear to any right thinking person that the criminal state of Israel should be dissolved? Let the right thinking Israelis become legal, law abiding Palestinian citizens and we can begin to focus on other criminal activities going on in the world. This one has a solution.