December 27th marks the first
anniversary of Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza that left over
1,440 Palestinians dead, of whom 313 were children and 116 women. In
the Israeli assault, called Operation Cast Lead, another 5,380
Palestinians were injured.
Shockingly, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of the West Bank settlement of
Yitzhar recently released "The King's Torah" which absolves the
Israeli army of killing innocent children as it says that Jews can
kill Palestinian children who threaten Israel.
…It is permissible to kill gentile [read "Palestinian"] babies
“because their presence assists murder, and there is reason to harm
children if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us … it is
permissible to harm the children of a leader in order to stop him
from acting evilly … we have seen in the Halakha that even babies of
gentiles who do not violate the seven Noahide laws, there is cause
to kill them because of the future threat that will be caused if
they are raised to be wicked people like their parents.”
This goes way beyond pre-emption. Shapira is advocating killing
Palestinian babies who don’t even pose a threat to a Jew and who he
can’t possibly know in the future will do so.
In its report, Goldstone-led UN investigatory team described the
assault as Israeli terror. South African Judge Richard Goldstone,
himself a Jew, led a transparent UN mission into the horror that
happened in Gaza during the 23-day massacre. The report documented
evidences of Israeli war crimes.
Not surprisingly, Israel withheld co-operation from the team right
at the onset, prevented their entry into Gaza through Israel and
leveled all sorts of accusations and verbal insults on Goldstone.
Tellingly, a day before the United Nations General Assembly voted to
endorse the report that has also been affirmed by the U.N. Human
Rights Council, the US House quickly passed a resolution calling on
President Barrack Obama to reject to the report.
The 575-page report, released in September, detailed gross human
rights violations and war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza during
the Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009 Israeli assault on unarmed
civilian population. The report also concluded that evidence exists
that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as
possibly crimes against humanity, in their repeated launching of
rockets and mortars into southern Israel.
It was particularly critical of Israel, calling the military assault
"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
The Israeli assault also led to the destruction of schools, mosques,
houses as well as UN compounds, inflicting $ 1.6 billion damage on
the Gaza economy.
The report also described Israel's longstanding economic blockade of
Gaza a form of "collective punishment" against the population and
cited a number of attacks on civilian targets during the operation
for which there was "no justifiable military objective".
The key recommendation of Goldstone which the US opposes is to get a
credible investigation into the Israeli war crimes that the
Goldstone commission found evidence of in Gaza Strip, and the UN
Security Council is the only body that can move forward and demand
an investigation. Sadly, the General Assembly simply does not have
Israeli political and military authorities now face the possibility
of international prosecution and arrest over war crimes in the Gaza
Strip. A British court has issued an arrest warrant for former
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who was forced to cancel his
visit to UK last month.
The Goldstone report favors universal jurisdiction as a tool for
enforcing international law, preventing impunity and promoting
international accountability. The report concluded that there was
strong enough evidence that Israel committed war crimes and crimes
against humanity in Gaza. Therefore, the 194 states that signed the
Geneva Conventions carry the responsibility to actively search for
suspected war criminals and bring them before its courts.
Siege of Gaza
More than one million hapless people of Gaza have been caged in what
has been described as the world’s largest open prison. Israel,
empowered by the military, financial and political backing of the
United States and the hypocrisy of the European Union chose to do
with these people whatever it wants, whenever it wants.
According to statistics compiled in 2008 by the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), there are
1,059,584 refugees in living in impoverished conditions in Gaza. The
blockade has created a situation where often even basic supplies of
medicine and food cannot pass through Israeli checkpoints.
The world has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their
words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli
blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery. Israel and
Egypt have allowed only vital humanitarian aid into the territory
since the Hamas seized power there in Jane 2007. Israel has allowed
only 41 truckloads of construction materials into Gaza since the
devastating 22-day war launched by the Israel nearly a year ago
ended with mutual ceasefires on January 18. Little of the extensive
damage the offensive caused to homes, civilian infrastructure,
public services, farms and businesses has been repaired because of
the shortages. Israel controls all but one of Gaza's border
crossings, the Rafah terminal with Egypt, which Cairo rarely opens.
The UK-based Viva Palestina movement sent its third convoy, Lifeline
3, to focus the world's attention to Israeli war criminals who
committed the horrendous crimes in Gaza as well as the courageous
Palestinian steadfastness. The third international convoy to Gaza
departed from London on December 5, 2009. The convoy is made up of
volunteers from Britain, Ireland, Belgium and Malaysia, who have
raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in their local communities
to pay for ambulances, minibuses, vans and lorries and to fill them
with medical and other aid that is desperately needed in Gaza.
Lifeline 3 was scheduled to arrive in Gaza on December 27 through
the Rafah border crossing to make a dent in the ongoing Israeli
blockade imposed on the impoverished enclave.
Palestinian organ theft
As the Goldstein report focused on the Israeli war crimes in the
Gaza assault, a Swedish newspaper highlighted the snatching of
Palestinian youth to harvest their internal organs in Israeli
In August, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, Aftonbladet, published
an article containing shocking material: testimony and
circumstantial evidence indicating that Israelis have been
harvesting internal organs from Palestinians. The stolen body parts,
which included heart arteries, bones, and corneal tissue, were used
in organ transplants for Israeli soldiers.
The Swedish newspaper report came after FBI Agent Robert J. Cooke
filed a criminal complaint in US District Court, in July, against
Levy Rosenbaum, a human organ broker from Brooklyn, alleging that he
unlawfully conspired "to acquire, receive, and otherwise transfer
human organs." Rosenbaum is quoted as indicating he had been
procuring human organs for "ten years" and there are "people over
there [in Israel] hunting" for organs.
Aftonbladet, published "Our sons plundered for their organs," by
Donald Boström, veteran Middle East photojournalist. Boström
indicates the Rosenbaum story, which garnered international
attention, inspired him to revisit his experiences in Palestine in
the 1990s. He writes: "I then travelled around interviewing a great
number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza—meeting
parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs
before being killed. ... 'Our sons are used as involuntary organ
donors,' relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother
of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza,
who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at
night, dead and autopsied." Boström opines that these charges raise
"enough question marks to motivate the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation ..."
Not surpringly, attorney Guy Ophir has filed a $7.5 million libel
suit in New York against the Swedish tabloid. Ophir said the
article's allegations were anti-Semitic and amounted to a "racist
blood libel" against Jews. However, the editor-in-chief of
Aftonbladet denied accusations that he was anti-Semitic. "I'm not a
Nazi," Jan Helin wrote in a blog post. "I'm an editor-in-chief who
has allowed the publication of a culture article because it asked a
number of relevant questions."
Aftonbladet's article echoes a report by Mary Barrett; "Autopsies
and Executions," which was published in April 1990 in Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs. In it, Barrett concludes, "The
question of organ theft is of compelling concern to Palestinians."
In June 2001, Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the University of
California-Berkeley and Organs Watch testified to the House
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. She
described a "multi-million dollar business" that the Israeli
Ministry of Health refused "to intervene and crack down on.
It may also be recalled that the Haaretz newspaper reported in
January 2005 that Breaking the Silence organization has collected
new testimony from Israeli soldiers on harsh actions carried out
during the course of the fighting in the occupied territories. Two
of the testimonies pertain to a military doctor who gave medics
lessons in anatomy using the bodies of Palestinians killed by
An army conscript who served as a medic in the Ramallah district
told Haaretz that the "lesson" had taken place following a clash
between an armed Palestinian and Israeli army. The soldier said that
the Palestinian's body had been riddled with bullets and that some
of his internal organs had spilled out. The doctor pronounced the
man dead and then "took out a knife and began to cut off parts of
the body," the soldier said. "He explained the various parts to us -
the membrane that covers the lungs, the layers of the skin, the
liver, stuff like that," the soldier continued. "I didn't say
anything because I was still new in the army. Two of the medics
moved away, and one of them threw up. It was all done very brutally.
It was simply contempt for the body."
The second report came from a soldier who served in Hebron in
October 2000. The soldier told Breaking the Silence that a comrade
had fired live rounds at a Palestinian youth, Mansour Taha Ahmed,
21, who was standing some distance from a group of stone-throwers.
The soldier said he was firing rubber bullets at the stone-throwers
when he suddenly heard his comrade fire live rounds, killing the
The episode of the Palestinian organ theft refreshes the memories of
cruel massacres of Sabra and Shatila, Khan Yunis, Al-Aqsa Mosque or
Jenin. The legality of settlements and the right of return of
refugees are basic principles of international law and international
humanitarian law which is flouted by Israel. The impunity and
flagrant display of arrogance, demonstrated by Israel which
continues to use the US to pressure the international community as a
double standard to hold sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear
program, knows no bound.
The US has historically claimed to be an arbiter in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet it has committed itself to
unconditionally support Israel whatever its crimes are. And these
supports are not restricted to the numerous veto it wield in favor
of Israel at the UN, nor to the White Phosphorus it supplies to
Israel to target defenseless civilians, the Congressional Israel
lobby has achieved a commitment from the Obama administration to add
Israeli systems and munitions to a new U.S.-built F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter and deliver 25 to Israel by 2015 with another 50 delivered
President Obama’s role in the Palestinian conflict so far belies his
tall claims he made in Cairo in June last that he seeks peace in the
region, and that it is the just arbiter in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. In his Orwellian speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize
earlier this month, he mentioned countries that violated the
international law but did not refer to Israel which violated the
international law many times. While Obama referred to the
persecutions in places like Zimbabwe and Burma, the Israeli
atrocities against the Palestinians was not worthy crime for him to
cite in his speech.
Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American
Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org