By Robert Barsocchini
26 June, 2015
The UN has now released its investigation into Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza. While the report covers crimes committed by both Israel and the comparatively defenceless resistance bands in the Gaza refugee ghetto, international law experts remind that this does not mean there is any equivalence between the “sides” or the gravity of their violations:
“George Bisharat, a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law who has an expertise in law and politics in the Middle East, said that it is ‘sheer nonsense‘to equate the crimes allegedly committed on both sides.”
It is important to keep in mind, Bisharat continues, that “the gravity of Israel’s violations of international law are far greater than those of the Palestinians.”
“Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights agreed, saying, ‘certainly the commission sought to present a holistic picture but just because it’s holistic doesn’t mean it’s an equal picture.’
‘The number of civilians killed in Gaza was simply unprecedented — this is a traumatized society facing its third military assault in five years and living under blockade,‘ Gallagher said.”
The UN finds that the Israeli massacre killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including over 500 children, and 2,100 Palestinians total, while 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, including 1 child, were killed. Thus the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli children killed in what Western media, to disguise the reality of the situation, calls a “war”, was about 530 to 1.
The report offers firsthand accounts (see link for more) of people affected by the massacre:
“I was sitting with my family at the table, ready to break the fast. Suddenly we were sucked into the ground. Later that evening, I woke up in the hospital and was told my wife and children had died,” Tawfik Abu Jama told the inquiry.
On 20 July the father of eight lost 26 family members, including all of his children and his wife, in a single bomb attack.
“I saw my family all ripped to pieces…”
“I am 52 years old and I have lost everything I cared for. In only a few minutes, they killed everyone and everything that was dear to me. They killed my dream, and my daughter’s dream who wanted to be a doctor.”
The UN reports that the explosive devices Israel illegally plants and detonates in Gaza can “tear off limbs hundreds of meters from the blast site.”
“The shock waves create thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch”, while “the injury threshold is 15 pounds per square inch.”
The US is the world’s biggest arms trafficker and provides most of those weapons. Israel is the biggest recipient of US aid, and the amount has been increased by Obama after each of Israel’s massacres against Gaza since Obama has taken office, which include Cast Lead, Pillar of Cloud, and 2014’s Solid Cliff.
Georgetown University international law expert Dr. Noura Erakat reminds that the responsibility “to preserve protection for civilians rests upon the shoulders of citizens, organizations, and mass movements who can influence their governments enforce international law. There is no alternative to political mobilization to shape state behaviour.”
The US has a long and shameful history, extending to its origins and beyond and continuing today, of carrying out and supporting countless massacres. We cannot undo these crimes, but we can easily choose to stop allowing them today by, for one, following Erakat’s advice and mobilizing to cut off support for Israel until it decolonizes and stops occupying Palestine, ends its illegal blockade of Gaza, and stops carrying out aggression and massacres. Ceasing to enable these crimes is both legally required of us and would be helpful for the health of Israeli society.
Robert Barsocchini focuses on force dynamics, national and global.