Saturday, January 17, 2009

Israel and State Terrorism

Israel and State Terrorism
by Paul Barrow

Noam Chomsky said in 2003 in an interview with an unidentified Kurdish newspaper," If we use the term [terrorism] in accord with its official definitions, then, uncontroversially, Israel (like the US, Britain, Turkey, and others) is a terrorist state by the standards we apply to official enemies.”

State terrorism is not currently acknowledged in international relations. It is more often referred to as coercive diplomacy , as was most prominently used by the U.S. in bombing Hiroshima. However, terrorism per se has been defined itself as"the purposeful act or threat of violence to create fear and/or compliant behavior in a victim and/or audience of the act or threat." (See Michael Stohl, The State as Terrorist: The Dynamics of Governmental Violence and Repression )

Aside from the bombing and strafing that is currently taking place, the Israelis have been practicing a form of much more subtle state terrorism, the kind that doesn't show up in the daily news. In 2007, this "Report of the Total Siege and Closure of Border Crossings and Their Impacts on the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip (16 July - 30 September 2007)" , published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, says that

"the total siege and closure of border crossing have paralyzed the components of the Palestinian economy due to the blockade of exportation and importation of goods from and into the Gaza Strip.The economic crisis has been demonstrated in the following:

• Complete halt of exportation, especially of industrial products, such as furniture and
plastic tools, and agricultural products, such as vegetables, fruits and flowers.
• The lack of raw materials necessary for industry and agriculture.
• Paralysis in the agricultural sector due to the blockade of exportation of agricultural
products.
• The entry of limited basic humanitarian needs, which does not meet the actual needs of the population.
• Moreover, the problem of poverty has devastated [the population]. At least 80% of the families in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line, and at least 47% of them live in extreme poverty.
• Unemployment has mounted to more than 40% of the labor force in the Gaza Strip."

The report [pdf] called "The Policy of Collective Punishment Aggravates the Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip," published by the PCHR over a year ago, shows that state terrorism has been practiced for some time and demonstrates that war crimes have been committed. Actions by one country that paralyze the economy of another and shut off access to basic humanitarian needs is nothing short of violence, and an act of war because it causes death through malnutrition, disease and suffering that is much more cruel and painful and enduring than simply a bomb that ends someone's life in a flash. Such actions by one ethnic group against another are also a form of ethnic cleansing , because they force people to flee their homeland and seek safety and shelter elsewhere.

Eighteen organizations, along with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, in a document called Re: Gross Human Rights Violations and War Crimes in the Gaza Strip, called upon the UN Human Rights Council to urge the General Assembly to act under Resolution 377. " The Uniting for Peace resolution ( United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 377 A ) states that, "in cases where the United Nations Security Council fails to act in order to maintain international peace and security, owing to disagreement between its five permanent members, [ 2 ] the matter shall be addressed immediately by the General Assembly . " [from Wikipedia ]

In a Washington Post article written by Jimmy Carter published Thursday morning January 8, 2009, he wrote of a visit to the Gaza region in April 2008 to assess the prospects for a cease fire.He says that he "knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved" and reports that "the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day." Recent reports indicate that that number had reached over 80% at the time of the Israeli attack, based upon the number of people forced to live on U.N. or other outside aid.

What Carter also learned is that Palestinians were open to negotiations, and that "rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight."

UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto's statement December 27 , the day the Israeli strikes began, made the situation even more strikingly clear:

The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.

Time has come to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.

The Israeli air strikeson the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians – the air strikeswere aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response – the air strikeshave not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law – regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.



In June 2008, according to an article in Middle East Online, "sixteen people in southern Israel [had] been killed by rocket or mortar fire from the Gaza Strip "since the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000, which protested against the long and illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories."

However, in the same period, the Israelis had killed roughly 3770 Palestinians.

That number is derived from a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights fact sheet which says that "the IOF have implemented a systematic policy of extra-judicial executions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). From the beginning of the Second Intifada, in September 2000, until 30 June, 2008, the IOF carried out 348 extra-judicial execution operations in the OPT. During these operations, a total of 754 Palestinians were executed, representing 20% of the overall number of Palestinians killed by IOF since the beginning of the Second Intifada. The victims included 521 targeted persons and 233 civilian bystanders, including 71 children and twenty women. 405 of the victims were executed in the Gaza Strip, and 350 were executed in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, 248 of the victims were targeted people, and 157 were civilian bystanders. In the West Bank, 274 of the victims were targeted persons and 76 were civilian bystanders.

"IOF claim that extra-judicially executed Palestinians are wanted by the Israeli security services, and have been 'targeted' as they pose serious threats to the national security of the State of Israel. In addition, IOF utilize a host of rhetorical terms, such as 'self-defence, military response, Palestinian terrorists/militants' in order to claim these extra-judicial executions are essential preventative responses in order to ensure the continuing security of Israel."

Although the current military campaign by Israel is being blamed on the rocket attacks by Hamas, it's interesting to see elsewhere the speculation that it is really due to the upcoming election for Prime Minister in Israel and the need for politicians to show some resolve in dealing with Hamas. Some support for that notion might be apparent in the fact that not a single Israeli had been killed by a rocket attack in the year prior to the Saturday assault upon Gaza by Israel a little more than two weeks ago now.

The election, scheduled for February 10, was set up in order to fill the vacated spot created by the awkward resignation of current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over financial scandal. It pits Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is running on the Kadima ticket, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who heads the Labour Party, against Benjamin Netanyahu , of the opposition party Likud. Chris Marsden writes in CounterCurrents.org , that Ms. Livni "has threatened further assassinations of Hamas leaders, warning that "nobody is immune." "Until now we have shown restraint," she said. "But today there is no other option than a military operation." Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Marsden writes, "threatened a ground invasion Saturday and ruled out any possibility of a cease-fire. 'For us to be asked to have a cease-fire with Hamas is like asking you to have a cease-fire with Al Qaeda,'" Barak told Fox News. "If boots on the ground will be needed, they will be there." "Netanyahu has focused his campaign on calls," Marsden says, "for an even more aggressive 'active policy of attack' against Hamas, accusing the current coalition government of Kadima and Labour of being too "passive."

"In the long term," Netanyahu declared, " the toppling of the Hamas regime is inevitable. In the short term...there are a wide range of possibilities, from doing nothing to doing everything, meaning to conquer Gaza."

Peace in the Middle East is a dead slogan as long as Palestine continues to be occupied illegally, and Israel fails to acknowledge the human rights of the people in their concentration camp called Gaza. United Progressives believes in peace, but we aren't calling for peace, unless it is sustainable, and we don't believe that it is sustainable without justice and a fair balance of the interests involved. Peace does not occur because one side accepts starvation and misery while the other side gets to attend Bar Mitzvah without fear of stunning explosions nearby. That isn't peace. That's a gasoline tank sitting in an open fire.


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