Don’t worry, everyone. Israel has investigated its own tactics during the recent Gaza War, and they’ve concluded…that they “maintained a high professional and moral level” of accountability. They conducted themselves according to the tenets of international law despite having to face an enemy that hid among civilians in order to conduct military operations and targeted civilian centers in Israel. True, the investigation discovered a small number of mistakes, not many, among the dozens of incidents we investigated, and we have already examined them and learned lessons from them.
Well, that’s good news. At least they are learning from their mistakes. We can all move on to something more important now, like Brad and Angelina or something.
By Israel’s own report, 1166 Palestinians were killed, of which 295 were civilians, a civilian casualty rate just a little over 25%. Not bad. Hamas killed thirteen Israelis, three of whom were civilians, just a little under 25%…so everything is even Steven.
Even Steven is not the way international law works. Targeting civilians is a war crime, regardless of who is doing it and why. That Hamas was targeting civilians does not give Israel the right to respond in kind. Israel claims that they never targeted civilians. That civilians were killed was nothing more than collateral damage consequent of a cowardly Palestinian military hiding in civilian areas.
So knowing that this is the way Hamas operates, why use white phosphorus over places like schools and hospitals. Israel denies this happened. Their claim is disputed by FILM FOOTAGE of white phosphorus shells being used over civilian populations, including a clearly marked United Nations run school in Gaza.
The United Nations has called for an independent investigation into the matter. Former South African judge and international war crimes prosecutor, Richard J. Goldstone, has been suggested for leading the investigation of Israeli and Hamas abuses. According to the New York Times, however, Israel is “unlikely to cooperate with the investigation.”
Such stubbornness on the part of Israel can only lead to further animosity toward the surrounded nation. The one sided diplomacy practiced by the Israeli government is one of the key obstacles to peace in the Middle East. A nation that holds itself above the law and beyond criticism cannot be respected on the international scene.
Not to be outdone on the Bad Faith Scale of international politics, Hamas is compounding its own crimes against humanity. During the Gaza operation, Hamas launched Qassam rockets into civilian targets in Israel. That Hamas was not as good at hitting civilians does not make their crimes any less heinous.
Hamas is, however, much better at killing their own people. According the Amnesty International, since the Gaza War Hamas has shot, killed and wounded scores of Palestinians. They are targeting not only prisoners who escaped from a central prison during the Israeli bombings, but also members of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah. According the the AI website, “the perpetrators of these attacks did not conceal their weapons or keep a low profile, but, on the contrary, behaved in a carefree and confident almost ostentatious manner.” In other words, they knew that they were operating without legal restriction.
Debates in the United States rage about the never ending conflict between Israel and Palestine. Should there be a two state solution, a one state solution? Should one side just wipe the other side out and be done with it? Great political capital rests on, “which side” of the Palestinian debate one falls on. To be pro-Israel seems to be the most valued approach. But the human rights record of Israel is abysmal, and no objective observer can ally themselves with such atrocity. On the other hand, being pro-Palestine is equated with being pro-Hamas and thus, pro-terrorist.
In light of the human rights record of Israel, a staunch activist might be inclined to sympathy for the plight of Palestine. The kind of vitriol that’s attached to such sympathies, however, is only exacerbated by the existence of Hamas as a representative of the Palestinian people.
Perhaps one of the problems is that it is impossible for an objective observer to justify sympathy for either side of this conflict. The Israel/Palestine question then falls into the discursive arena of the ideologues, extremists and partisans. Yet, for this conflict to be resolved, the objective and rational must have the strongest voice. Alas, this is not likely to happen any time soon.
And who is caught in the middle? The average, every day Israeli and Palestinian who just wants to live his or her life. Each becomes a target of often extremist political rhetoric, reinforced by the fact that each is also a very real military target.