...Israel's offensive against Hamas in densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the "greatest magnitude."The article goes on to say the following:
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.
"If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk said.
A Palestinian human rights group has released the names of 1,417 Gazans it says were killed in Israel's recent war on the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers.I think most of the world agrees with these numbers, or slightly less. The Israeli forces, the slimy Mark Regev, disputes the claim, and
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said Thursday that of those killed, 926 were civilians, 236 were combatants and 255 were members of the Palestinian security forces.
contends that most of those killed were combatants or legitimate targets.Considering Ha'aretz is also running testimonies from IDF soldiers who have this to say about a sniper who "accidentally" shot a woman and her children, as she did not understand the instructions given to her when leaving her house, and as he was not informed to not shoot her:
"I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way," he said.I am guessing that the woman and her children will become legitimate targets within Regev's assessment of the situation. There was nowhere for the Gazans to go.
House demolitions are still occurring, with a vengeance, in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Bombing of Gaza kind of took care of that "problem" for Israel, of course. Professor Jeff Halper (an Israeli) has been visiting Australia, trying to raise awareness over this issue. His organization tries to build a house for every house that is demolished. I listened to an interview with him on rtrfm the other day (select March 18, 2009). The number is up to 24,000 homes demolished since 1967, I think. The task is impossible, but they keep trying, which is wonderful.
The picture above and below is from the blog: Chroniques de palestine, the blog of a French photographer who is in the West Bank at the moment. I give her full credit for the photos, and apologise for lifting them. They tell a strong story though. The pictures are from people watching their houses get demolished, or sitting amongst the rubble of the same. Their stories can be found here, and here and here, and here. Those stories are mostly pictorial, so why not take a look? Houses have sometimes been demolished while people have been in them. Often Israeli authorities say they have been built illegally, within Jerusalem and within the West Bank, but they will not grant permits to build, either.
Still, one has to hope that there is eventually a way out of this madness. However, madness seems to be worldwide, or wilful and manipulated ignorance. Within Australia, a major Jewish newspaper refused to run adverts promoting Halper's tour, and a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald by Robert Magid, the publisher of the paper (AJN), drew a long bow between the organisers, female mutilation and Halper's tour, amongst other things. Supporters of Magid have stated that the houses were demolished in retaliation for suicide bombings. Sometimes this is the case. It is still called collective punishment, and I think that there has not been a Hamas-backed suicide bombing since 2005,and Hamas renounced suicide bombings in 2006*, so there should not have been a house demolition since then, either. In addition, look at the figures. You think there have been 24,000 suicide bombings in Israel since they took over Palestinian lands? It's a wonder there are Israelis left standing if that were the case(Iraq might be a different matter).
If you want to follow the Halper story, it starts here. Discussion on the soldiers' testimonies, and extra information can be found here and here and here.
*According to this report (p. 28), Hamas'suicide bombings were sparked by the massacre of Muslims at the al-Ibrahimi mosque.
From Chest Doc in Palestine:
Ibrahimi Mosque massacre[occurred] in 1994 when a fanatical settler called Baruch Goldstein (a doctor) from the neighbouring Kiryat Arba settlement gunned down 29 Palestinians offering Fajr (morning) prayers while they were prostrating towards Mecca. 150 others were injured. It is not widely known that he was assisted by other settlers who reloaded his gun with further ammunition every time it ran out. He was finally overpowered and beaten to death by the remaining worshippers.
The Palestinians then turned on the Israeli soldiers who opened indiscriminate fire killing several more. In fact the soldiers entered the general hospital in Hebron and started shooting randomly, causing several casualties.
After the massacre the entrances to the shrine for Muslims and Jews were segregated. Baruch Goldstein's widow requested that the men who killed her husband be charged with homicide! A shrine to Goldstein has been erected in Kiryat Arba- a plaque there reads: "To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel". It has become a pilgrimage site for those with extreme right-wing views.