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HRW and AI Blast Israeli War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman Wednesday, Nov. 05, 2014 at 3:26 PM


HRW and AI Blast Israeli War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman

State-sponsored terrorism is official Israeli policy. High crimes against peace repeat with disturbing regularity.

Operation Protective Edge is the latest example. Cold, calculated, premeditated naked aggression against largely defenseless Gazan civilians.

One of the world's most powerful militaries against lightly armed self-defense forces. A ruthless killing machine. A mismatch writ large and then some.

Mass murdering civilians in cold blood is the highest of high crimes. Israeli wars without mercy consider them legitimate targets. Waged at its discretion. Based on Big Lies.

Committing slow-motion genocide against millions of Palestinians. Daily for decades. Denying free movement, free expression and public assembly.

Force-feeding economic strangulation, collective punishment, state terror, racist oppression, land theft, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, torture, lawless imprisonments, traumatizing neighborhood incursions, roadblocks, checkpoints, electric fences, separation walls, curfews, and numerous other human and civil rights abuses and indigities.

Denying Palestinians fundamental civil and human rights. Basic services. Stealing their resources. Marginalizing and exploiting them.

Calling legitimate self-defense terrorism. Calling naked aggression self-defense. Operating unaccountably because Western leaders back its genocidal crimes.

Washington provides generous funding and support. Billions of dollars annually in largely military aid. Partnering with Israeli high crimes against peace. Doing it unapologetically.

In mid-September, Human Rights Watch (HRW) addressed three Israeli Operation Protective Edge Gaza school attacks. On July 24, 30 and August 3.

Killing 45. Including 17 children. According to HRW's Fred Abrahams:

"The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians."

"Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage."

HRW called two of the three attacks unrelated to military objectives. The third "was unlawfully disproportionate if not otherwise indiscriminate," it said.

"Unlawful attacks carried out willfully - that is, deliberately or recklessly - are war crimes."

"The laws of war" demand investigations. Punishing culpable parties.

Israeli fact-finding assessments substitute Big Lies for hard truths. Reflecting systematic whitewash and denial. Blaming victims for its crimes. According to HRW:

"Israel has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes."

Willful lies substitute for truth and full disclosure. Media scoundrels repeat them. Cold hard facts are suppressed.

On July 24, Israel shelled a Beit Hanoun coeducational elementary school. UN-run. Killing 13. Including six children. Wounding dozens of others.

"Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that days of fighting in the area had caused most of the people staying at the school to leave, but several hundred remained," its report said.

"Most were awaiting transport to a safer area when" Israeli munitions struck the school compound.

Shredding bodies. Boys, men, girls and women. Israeli military officials lied. Claiming Hamas fighters "operated adjacent to" the school.

Saying a "single errant mortar" hit a "completely empty" school courtyard. Seven witnesses exposed Israel's Big Lie.

It had precise coordinates. The school was clearly identified. Including its purpose. To provide safety for Gazan civilians.

It didn't matter. It willfully shelled a civilian target. A war crime by any standard.

On July 30, Israeli munitions struck a Jabalya UN-run girls' elementary school. Three Suleiman Hassan Abd el-Dayam family members died.

Five others were wounded. "I saw that my wife had a head injury, so I carried her outside," he said.

"Then I looked for my aunt. I found her, and she was saying, 'I can't see!' So I took her outside too. And my other cousin, Ibrahim, had his legs cut off."

Israel lied claiming Palestinian fighters fired mortars "from the vicinity" of the school. No corroborating evidence proved it.

Firing "high-explosive, heavy-artillery shells so near (and at) a shelter with civilians constitutes an indiscriminate attack," said HRW.

On August 3, an Israeli missile struck a Rafah boys' school. Killing 12. Including eight children. Wounding at least 25 others.

About 3,000 Palestinian civilians were sheltering there at the time. Believing they were out of harm's way. According to HRW:

"Witnesses (said) many civilians, including children, were near the school's front gate buying sweets when the missile struck directly across the street, about 10 meters away."

"The Israeli military said it had targeted three Islamic Jihad members on a motorcycle 'near' the school, but provided no further information, including why it attacked the men in front of a school sheltering thousands of displaced people rather than before they arrived or after they drove away."

"Schools are presumptively civilian objects that may not be attacked unless they are being used for military purposes..."

"Israel should go beyond sweeping justifications and provide detailed explanations for its attacks in and around these three schools housing hundreds of displaced people," Abrahams said.

"And it should end its practice of impunity by punishing those who violate the laws of war."

On November 5, Amnesty International headlined "Israeli forces displayed 'callous indifference' in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza."

It detailed them in its report titled "Families under Rubble: Israeli Attacks on Inhabited Homes." A scathing indictment of its war crimes.

Killing dozens of entire families. Noncombatant civilians. Willfully attacked. Slaughtered in cold blood. According to AI's Middle East and North Africa Programme director Philip Luther:

"Israeli forces have brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused."

"The report exposes a pattern of attacks on civilian homes by Israeli forces which have shown a shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, who were given no warning and had no chance to flee.”

Witness accounts were discussed. "(D)escribing the horror of frantically digging through the rubble and dust of their destroyed homes in search of the bodies of children and (other) loved ones."

"Even if a fighter had been present in one of these residential homes, it would not absolve Israel of its obligation to take every feasible precaution to protect the lives of civilians caught up in the fighting," said Luther.

"The repeated, disproportionate attacks on homes indicate that Israel's current military tactics are deeply flawed and fundamentally at odds with the principles of international humanitarian law."

Israel's single deadliest attack killed 36 members of four families. In a three-story al-Dali residential building. A clear non-military target.

The second deadliest attack killed 25 civilians. Leveling Abu Jame's family home. Both attacks were lawless.

Gross disproportionality. Clear war crimes by any standard. Israeli officials gave no justifiable reasons for its actions. Big Lies substituted. According to AI:

"(D)irectly and deliberately target(ing) civilians or civilian objects…constitutes war crimes."

"In all of the cases researched by Amnesty International, no prior warning was given to residents of the homes which were attacked."

Doing so could have avoided numerous civilian deaths. Israel went way out of its way to assure them. Including women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.

"It is tragic to think that these civilian deaths could have been prevented," said Luther.

"The onus is on Israeli officials to explain why they chose to deliberately flatten entire homes full of civilians, when they had a clear legal obligation to minimize harm to civilians and the means of doing so."

AI's "report highlights the catastrophic consequences of Israel's attacks on homes, which have shattered the lives of entire families."

"Some of the homes attacked were overflowing with relatives who had fled other areas of Gaza in search of safety."

Survivors described horrifying scenes of shredded body parts. Lost arms and legs. Other horrific injuries. Leaving victims maimed for life.

Palestinian physician Abel Hassan Ammar said "(i)t was terrifying we couldn't save anyone."

"All of the kids were burnt. I couldn't tell which were mine and which were the neighbours'.

"We carried whoever we were able to the ambulance…I only recognized Ibrahim my eldest child, when I saw the shoes he was wearing…I had bought them for him two days before."

One resident explained his trauma," saying:

"All I can remember are the bits and pieces I saw of bodies, teeth, head, arms, insides, everything scattered and spread."

"One survivor of the same attack described hugging a bag full of the shreds' of her son's body."

According to AI, "Israel has so far failed to even acknowledge any of the attacks detailed in the report and has not responded to Amnesty International's requests for explanations of why each of these attacks took place."

"What is crucial now is that there is accountability for any violations of international humanitarian law that have been committed," said Luther.

"The Israeli authorities must provide answers. The international community must take urgent steps to end the perpetual cycle of serious violations and complete impunity," he stressed.

Israel willfully and maliciously denies human rights organizations access to Gaza. To research Operation Protective Edge war crimes.

It refuses to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry.

"Failing to allow independent human rights monitors into Gaza smacks of a deliberately orchestrated attempt to cover up violations or hide from international scrutiny," said Luther.

America and Israel give rogue state lawlessness new meaning. State terror is official policy. Genocidal mass murder repeats with disturbing regularity.

Both countries support wealth, power and privilege alone. Israel for Jews only. Police state justice prevails. Freedom exists in name only.

High crimes against peace go unpunished. It's just a matter of time before more egregious ones are committed.

Imperial priorities alone matter. So does making the world safe for monied interests.

Benefitting from wars without end. No matter the human cost.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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