The “specialness” of Israel


Israel claimed Hamas used the civilians of Gaza as human shields for their rocket attacks when it fact it turns out Israeli forces used Palestinians in that way.  Here is the story and eye witness accounts of what happened.

The article below describes how US officials have enabled the Israeli regime to commit and get away with war crimes and are as accountable as the very Israelis who are responsible for the Gaza massacre.  Unfortunately, American administrations are quick to hurl accusations of illegality towards members of the international community but are almost never willing to prosecute its own for illegal acts. In the case of Israel, even when there is compelling evidence that crimes were committed such an acknowledgment is never forthcoming from an American administration.  The ramifications of that are severe for America…..making it as much a pariah state as the one it enables.

 

I was surprised to see this in print


five major Israeli talking points debunked and especially on the mast of The Nation magazine whose alumni include the infamous Christopher Hitchens, Melissa Harris-Perry among others. I want to focus on number three through five because you hear them alot from the Israeli spin machine.

This Israeli operation, among others, was caused by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel claims that its current and past wars against the Palestinian population in Gaza have been in response to rocket fire. Empirical evidence from 2008, 2012 and 2014 refute that claim. First, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the greatest reduction of rocket fire came through diplomatic rather than military means. This chart demonstrates the correlation between Israel’s military attacks upon the Gaza Strip and Hamas militant activity. Hamas rocket fire increases in response to Israeli military attacks and decreases in direct correlation to them. Cease-fires have brought the greatest security to the region. 3 rockets

During the four months of the Egyptian-negotiated cease-fire in 2008, Palestinian militants reduced the number of rockets to zero or single digits from the Gaza Strip. Despite this relative security and calm, Israel broke the cease-fire to begin the notorious aerial and ground offensive that killed 1,400 Palestinians in twenty-two days. In November 2012, Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Ahmad Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, while he was reviewing terms for a diplomatic solution, again broke the cease-fire that precipitated the eight-day aerial offensive that killed 132 Palestinians.

Immediately preceding Israel’s most recent operation, Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel. Israel deliberately provoked this war with Hamas. Without producing a shred of evidence, it accused the political faction of kidnapping and murdering three settlers near Hebron. Four weeks and almost 700 lives later, Israel has yet to produce any evidence demonstrating Hamas’s involvement. During ten days of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank, Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. It’s these Israeli provocations that precipitated the Hamas rocket fire to which Israel claims left it with no choice but a gruesome military operation.

Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.

With the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians as part of its military operations.

gaza kidsThe Dahiya Doctrine is central to these operations and refers to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Lebanon in 2006. Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said that this would be applied elsewhere:

What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.

Israel has kept true to this promise. The 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission to the Gaza Conflict, better known as the Goldstone Mission, concluded “from a review of the facts on the ground that it witnessed for itself that what was prescribed as the best strategy [Dahiya Doctrine] appears to have been precisely what was put into practice.”

According to the National Lawyers Guild, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Israel directly targeted civilians or recklessly caused civilian deaths during Operation Cast Lead. Far from avoiding the deaths of civilians, Israel effectively considers them legitimate targets. (emphasis mine)

Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses human shields.

This is arguably one of Israel’s most insidious claims, because it blames Palestinians for their own death and deprives them of even their victimhood. Israel made the same argument in its war against Lebanon in 2006 and in its war against Palestinians in 2008. Notwithstanding its military cartoon sketches, Israel has yet to prove that Hamas has used civilian infrastructure to store military weapons. The two cases where Hamas indeed stored weapons in UNRWA schools, the schools were empty. UNRWA discovered the rockets and publicly condemned the violation of its sanctity.

International human rights organizations that have investigated these claims have determined that they are not true. It attributed the high death toll in Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks. Human Rights Watch notes: hidden rocket

The evidence Human Rights Watch uncovered in its on-the-ground investigations refutes [Israel’s] argument…we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages.

In fact, only Israeli soldiers have systematically used Palestinians as human shields. Since Israel’s incursion into the West Bank in 2002, it has used Palestinians as human shields by tying young Palestinians onto the hoods of their cars or forcing them to go into a home where a potential militant may be hiding. human shield

In the over thee weeks of its military operation, Israel has demolished 3,175 homes, at least a dozen with families inside; destroyed five hospitals and six clinics; partially damaged sixty-four mosques and two churches; partially to completely destroyed eight government ministries; injured 4,620; and killed over 700 Palestinians. At plain sight, these numbers indicate Israel’s egregious violations of humanitarian law, ones that amount to war crimes.

 

 

Memory Hole Material


I’m posting this because of the source, Israeli, of an accusation that hasn’t been admitted by them before, i.e. the issue of using human shields during the Gaza invasion.  Check out the spin that has already begun.

Breaking the Silence activist group presents report of testimonies from Gaza offensive in which soldiers say destruction, civilian casualties were direct result of IDF policy. Army: Testimonies are general, anonymous, and unreliable

A number of IDF soldiers who took part in Israel’s recent Gaza offensive say they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing.

In print and video testimony published on Wednesday by the activist group Breaking the Silence, the 30 soldiers say the army’s imperative was to minimize its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the operation.

“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18.

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”

The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 soldiers “who served in all sectors of the operation”.

“The majority … are still serving in their regular military units and turned to us in deep distress at the moral deterioration of the IDF,” it says. Their narratives “are enough to bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions”.

Except for a sergeant named Amir, the soldiers are anonymous and their faces digitally blurred. The group said it had funding from Israeli human rights groups and the governments of Britain, the Netherlands and Spain, and from the European Union.

“We believe that the existence of a moral society clearly requires a profound, honest discussion, of which the voice of soldiers on the ground is an inseparable part,” the group says.

Soldiers describe a “Neighbor Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.

The report repeats charges denied by Israel that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.

“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” says one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”

The report also mentions armored bulldozers razing whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact … that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quotes a soldier as saying.

“There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”

IDF: Soldiers should come forth

The testimonies challenge assertions by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups in the United States that “Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties”, as Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League wrote last week to the New York Times.

The League denounced Amnesty International for labeling Israel’s actions as “wanton” destruction and said it was “outrageously accusing the Israeli military of war crimes”.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the most moral army in the world. These critics say Israelis should not be asked simply to accept that their army’s conduct was “faultless and public accountability uncalled for”.

The IDF, Breaking the Silence said in the preamble to its evidence, went to great lengths to prove that if there were any excesses they were by the “delinquent soldier”.

The testimony suggests that “the massive and unprecedented blow to the infrastructure and civilians of the Gaza Strip was a direct result of IDF policy”.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office stated in response that the army “regrets the fact that a human rights organization is presenting to Israel and the world, once again, a report containing general and anonymous testimonies without ascertaining their details or reliability and without allowing the IDF, with minimal fairness, a chance to probe the affairs and respond prior to their publication”.

The statement adds that the IDF “believes Breaking the Silence should encourage testifiers to break their silence and present specific claims in order for it to be possible to deal with the claims properly and investigate them, and not to hide behind anonymous testimonies”.

The army also stated that the Gaza offensive was a “no other choice operation” and that five different probes had already been authorized regarding the IDF’s conduct in Gaza. “The IDF is committed to investigating any complaint”, the statement says.

A Palestinian rights group has stated that 1,417 people were killed, 926 of them civilians, during Operation Cast Lead. But the army has put the death toll at 1,166 and estimated 295 dead were civilians. Ten IDF soldiers and three Israeli civilians were also killed.

Israel and human shields


shieldAs abominable as the idea is human shields are used to protect one group of combatants from another.  The accusation is usually hurled from defenders of western ideologies towards their enemies, i.e. Saddam, Hamas, et.al. so before this gets lost in the memory hole I thought I’d post this article.  It’s one of several that have been printed since the Gaza genocide.

The Israeli soldiers outside Majdi Abed Rabbo’s home were after the three Hamas fighters holed up next door, and they wanted Abed Rabbo to be their point man.

For the next 24 hours, Abed Rabbo said, the soldiers repeatedly forced him to walk through the battle zone to see whether the militants were dead or alive.

Abed Rabbo wasn’t alone. Eight other residents in this northern Gaza Strip neighborhood told McClatchy in separate interviews that Israeli soldiers had conscripted them to check homes for booby traps, to smash holes in the walls of houses so that soldiers could use them as escape routes or to try to pull dead Palestinian militants from the rubble.

The Israeli military told McClatchy that it’s investigating a variety of allegations about its Gaza operation but it categorically rejected suggestions that soldiers forced any Palestinians to work for them.

“Of course we don’t use human shields,” Israeli military spokesman Capt. Elie Isaacson said. “Just the opposite. We do everything in our power to avoid harm to civilians, bearing in mind that we know Hamas purposely puts them in harm’s way.”

U.S. and Israeli human-rights groups dispute that.

“There is powerful evidence that Israel used the tactic that they are accusing Hamas of using,” said Fred Abrahams, a Human Rights Watch senior researcher who’s investigating what happened in Gaza during the recent Israeli military offensive, which killed more than 1,200 Palestinians.

“The testimony seems pretty extensive and presents grave suspicions that Israeli soldiers forced Palestinians to perform dangerous tasks,” said B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli. “And the fact that we’re seeing these allegations on such a wide scale leads us to suspect that this was policy and not the decisions of one or two random soldiers.”

Not much will come of this revelation; Israel is rarely rebuked for its human rights abuses and this will be no different, however, the next time you hear the Israelis comment on human shields being used by their opponents you can reply they, the Israelis, probably taught them the technique.