Friday, December 12, 2008

UN: Israeli War Crimes Against People of Gaza?

The following remarks by Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, are not pleasant to read and are even less pleasant to think about. This Al Jazeera video reviews Israel's news blackout on Gaza (from YouTube). But read them carefully nonetheless, and then think about the striking difference between the undisguised honesty of Falk's remarks and the way most public officials talk.

Protective action must be taken immediately to offset the persisting and wide-ranging violations of the fundamental human right to life, and in view of the emergency situation that is producing a humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding day by day. However difficult politically, it is time to act. At the very least, an urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a 'responsibility to protect' a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity. In a similar vein, it would seem mandatory for the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation, and determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law. As AbuZayd has declared, "This is a humanitarian crisis deliberately imposed by political actors."It should be noted that the situation worsened in recent days due to the breakdown of a truce between Hamas and Israel that had been observed for several months by both sides. The truce was maintained by Hamas despite the failure of Israel to fulfill its obligation under the agreement to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza.

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