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Israel’s actions globally condemned as casualties mount

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jul 30, 2014 - 3:34:50 PM

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WASHINGTON ( - After weeks of punishing destruction, and killing hundreds of Palestinians—the vast majority of whom were civilians, one fourth of whom were children—Israel launched its threatened ground assault into Gaza July 17, and quickly encountered fierce resistance from fighters loyal to Hamas.

Despite vocal U.S. patronage of Israel, international efforts to end the devastation intensified July 28 with the U.N. Security Council calling for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” in the conflict that had already claimed the lives of more than 1,035 Palestinians and 43 Israeli soldiers. More Israeli soldiers have died during this ground offensive than in any other aggressive Israeli war since 2006, 13 killed on the first day alone.

The devastated coastal enclave fell quiet July 28 as Palestinians started celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday which concludes the Muslim month of fasting and prayer known as Ramadan. In an emergency meeting, the U.N. Security Council urged Israel and Hamas to “accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond,” allowing for the delivery of urgently needed relief assistance to Palestinians, who cannot leave the territory.

“This is a classic case of collective punishment,” Dr. Gerald Horne, who holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American studies at the University of Houston, told The Final Call, “that is to say that when members or a member of a designated group commits an offense, the entire group is punished, not unlike what has befallen people of African descent in North America for centuries.

“The Israelis need to tread very carefully,” Professor Horne warned. “You may recall what happened when they invaded southern Lebanon a few years ago and it ended in tears, as Hezbollah, basically administered a stinging defeat. They run the risk of having that history repeated, this time in Gaza,” Dr. Horne continued.

In addition, the Zionist state was subjected to international condemnation. Even inside Israel itself, 3,000 protestors marched peacefully in Tel Aviv July 26 calling for an end to the Gaza invasion. The very next day Israel denied that its forces were responsible for one of the most shocking attacks in the 21-days of fighting since the three Jewish boys, then a Palestinian teenager were kidnapped and murdered provoking the conflict, saying its soldiers were not behind the deaths of 16 Palestinians killed by shelling as they sought refuge in a United Nations-run school near an area of intense fighting.

Anti-Israel protests were held near Paris and Amsterdam; in Mumbai, India; Vienna, Austria; Sydney, Australia; Beirut, Lebanon; Frankfurt, Germany; Rabat, Morocco; Istanbul, Turkey; as well as Chicago, and more U.S. anti-Israel demonstrations are planned Aug. 2.

“As veterans who have witnessed the horror of war, we are deeply outraged by the state of Israel’s slaughter of many innocent civilians in Gaza,” Patrick McCann, President of (U.S.) Veterans For Peace said in a letter delivered to the Israeli embassy in Washington July 21. “The military assault against children, women and men, by air, by sea and now by land, is a clear violation of international laws of war and of human rights. More than 300 Palestinians have been murdered, almost all of them civilians, nearly a quarter of them children. Thousands are wounded, including nearly 1,000 children (sic).

“Veterans For Peace joins millions of people all around the globe who are shocked by this vicious, one-sided slaughter. We understand the huge injustice of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes and forced to live in the Occupied West Bank, or in the open-air prison that is Gaza. Mr. Ambassador, please tell the government of Israel to stop the massacre now!” the letter said.

“By attacking civilian officials in their homes, striking hospitals and infrastructure, Israel gave up the principle of attacking only military targets,” George Bisharat a professor of law at the University of California Hastings College wrote in The New York Times.

“Despite its 2005 withdrawal of ground forces and settlers from Gaza, Israel still exercises effective control over the region by controlling its airspace, coast and territorial waters, land borders (with Egypt), electromagnetic fields, electricity and fuel supply.

“Accordingly, Israel remains an occupying power under international law, bound to protect the occupied civilian population. Israel can use force to defend itself, but no more than is necessary to quell disturbances. Hence this is not a war—rather; it is a top military power unleashing massive firepower against a penned and occupied Palestinian population.

“Self-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians. There is no evidence that the terrible murders of three Israeli youths that Israel claimed as justification for the crackdown were anything other than private criminal acts that do not trigger a nation’s right of self-defense (were an American citizen, or even a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed by drug traffickers on our border with Mexico, that would not entitle us to bomb Mexico City).

“Israel is also apparently violating the principle of distinction that requires armies to attack only military targets. By attacking civilian officials and Hamas political figures in their homes, and striking hospitals, water and sewage lines, and other civilian infrastructure, Israel has abandoned distinction. Unsurprisingly, 75 percent of Palestinian victims have been civilians,” Professor Bisharat wrote.

Palestinian woman along with children protest against war in Gaza. Photos: Haroon Rajaee
“This invasion—this ill-conceived, misadventure—is the product of clashes at the highest levels of Israeli leadership,” Dr. Horne observed, “principally between the Foreign Minister, the racist Avigdor Lieberman, and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That is to say with Lieberman representing the ultra-right forces, Netanyahu simply the hard right forces, and the former prevailed.

“The problem is that this invasion not only will lead to severe casualties on the Israeli side of the ledger, not to mention bringing stinging international rebuke because of the killing of Gaza and Palestinian civilians, but it will weaken Israel’s neighbors, not least in Jordan whose population is heavily Palestinian.

“So, in any event, it seems to me that Israel is on the brink of a major catastrophe. Quite telling, is the fact that even though this will be a stunning and stinging rebuke to Israel, the major patron of Israel—the United States of America—as we speak, not one, leading, single elected official has condemned this latest act of Israeli aggression, which may have something to do with the fact that like Israel itself, the United States is built upon a pattern of brutal settler colonialism,” said Dr. Horne.

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