Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Terror in Israel, Death in Gaza, Israeli Occupation and Palestinian Resistance

Israel/Palestine will be a continuing topic covered here......

I am torn watching the news.  I support Israel, but just like with our government here in America, I cannot sit idly by and accept what any government says when there is evidence that shows otherwise.  Yes there is propaganda on both sides of the conflict, but there is also truth that needs to be told.

While I cannot justify Hamas launching rockets into civilian Israeli cities, I also cannot condone Israel bombing homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, etc and defending every bomb dropped by Israel saying simply that "Hamas is to blame because they are firing rockets at Israel and using human shields."

International law does not say that this is legal either.

The statements used to defend Israel should also apply to Palestinians, and are even wrong when applied to Israel using historical examples.

  • "Israel has a right to defend itself" (but apparently Gaza does not)
  • "No country would tolerate rockets raining down on its civilians" (even though when Iraq was bombing Israel in the Gulf War with (believed to be Gas or Chemical weapons) George HW Bush told Israel not to respond, and they didn't respond, but took actions to defend it's civilian population.
For Gulf War, see for example CFR "Friendly Restraint"
The U.S. decision to side-line and restrain Israel was successful due to a balanced strategy of positive and negative inducements. It was carefully crafted and executed by President George Bush and his most senior advisors.
Once the war started and Scud missiles began to fall, the Israeli leadership came under increasing pressure from top government and military officials to retaliate. Some members of the Israeli cabinet, as well as the Air Force chief of staff, lobbied Prime Minister Shamir to take military action.(34) Shamir was also under the pressure of precedent -- Israel had never before stood idle while under attack.

BBC News 1991: Iraqi Scud missiles hit Israel
Iraq has attacked two Israeli cities with Scud missiles, prompting fears that Israel may be drawn into the Gulf War.
The American President, George Bush, issued an appeal to Israel to hold back from retaliation for the attack.
Foreign Minister, David Levy, told journalists no decision had yet been taken on whether to retaliate.
"Israel reserves the right to retaliate in the manner and with the scale and method of its own choosing," he said.

Amnesty International responds to questions about the Israel/Gaza Conflict
Amnesty International 25 July 2014

This applies to Israel
The principle of proportionality requires that an attack must not be launched if it would cause excessive civilian casualties or damage to civilian objects in relation to the concrete military advantage anticipated. 
This is why Iron Dome plays such an important role in the conflict, not just in defending Israeli lives but also in determining proportionality.  If Israel is bombing a weapons cache in a home, hospital, or mosque, claiming that these dozens of rockets would cause harm to Israelis, Iron Dome proves them wrong because it is effective in preventing damage and death in Israel, even if it is not as effective as claimed.

For Iron Dome analysis, see for some examples

Billion Dollar Boondoggle: Israel’s Iron Dome Misfires
Less than two weeks after the US announced yet another $429 million in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (which had already gotten over $900 million from the US), the system malfunctioned badly on Tuesday, resulting in the firing of two interceptor missiles by the system. The mishap frightened citizens in Eilat, where the incident took place around 7:30 am. Iran was quick to note the event and picked up on an important point: initial reports inside Israel claimed another “success” from the Iron Dome system, saying three rockets were incoming to Eilat and two of them were destroyed. The report later was withdrawn and the firing was blamed on an accident.
As Debunking Continues, Congress Pushes for US Contractors to Profit Off Iron Dome
With more rockets now being fired fired from Gaza and Israel responding by massacring Palestinians who have no escape, the Iron Dome system is getting renewed attention. And as with much in the Israel-Palestine situation, there is the propaganda we see in much of the main press and then there is the stark reality behind it that is vastly different.
Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows noted a week and a half ago how the Washington Post had swallowed the propaganda completely, putting up the headline ‘Israel’s “Dome’ changes the fight”
No one wants Israelis to die (other than Hamas) but the fact that Israelis are not being hit by rockets does affect what the world sees.  If Israelis were dying in larger numbers (besides IDF soldiers who are in Gaza) then the proportionality and justification would be easier to say that the bombing in Gaza was worth it, even with higher deaths in Gaza than in Israel.

This applies to Hamas
Firing munitions which cannot be precisely aimed at military targets, such as artillery and mortars, into densely populated residential areas does not comply with the obligation to take all feasible precautions, even if they are aimed at  military targets located in these areas, and would constitute indiscriminate attacks. 
This applies to Hamas AND Israel 
co-locating military objectives in the vicinity of densely populated civilian neighborhoods. This means the parties should avoid endangering civilians by storing ammunition in, and launching attacks from, populated civilian areas.
This applies to both Hamas and Israel, as Hamas places bombs in civilian buildings, and Israel has its army headquarters in downtown Tel Aviv, as well as the argument that "every Israeli is obligated to serve in the military, and is therefore a military not civilian target."

This is from a Democracy Now! interview with Israeli Army Reservists who refused to fight

continued from Amnesty International
In addition to the points listed above, Israel continues to have obligations as the occupying power and as a party to the conflict during the hostilities, including ensuring the welfare of the population of the Gaza Strip and adhering to the prohibition on collective punishment.

The Daily Show explains Iron Dome and retaliation in Israel from 2012
November 26, 2012

"The conflict started last week when Hamas fired rockets into Israel, although it was retaliation for the killing by Israel of a Hamas leader, which was retaliation for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, which was retaliation for expanding settlement building, etc etc"

See Also 
In Gaza, Who is a Civilian? 2009

A Glance at Israel's Blood Soaked History in Gaza 2014

The Long History of Gaza's Tunnels 2014

In the long history of conflict in Israel, it is never as easy as "take the government at its word."  The media is full of defenders of Israel no matter what they do.  But as Rula Jabreal said regarding the larger context of the current conflict
"What do you think is happening?" they will tell you, "Well, Israel was minding its own business. The Palestinians started shooting missiles out of the blue." This is not the reality. This is not what’s going on. And the context of this is what’s leading the public opinion to support unconditionally Israel. And politicians will do what’s popular, not what’s right. We need to do what’s right. We, in the media, have a mission. Whether it’s MSNBC, Democracy Now!, CNN, we have a mission. We are truth tellers, and we can shape public opinion to protect public interest.
Explaining the larger context Rula said that
this policy with Gaza has been failing for the last eight years. We had six bombardments in the last eight years, and this did not topple Hamas and did not limit, weaken Hamas. Actually, it empowered more and more Hamas. And moderates like myself—and, for me, Hamas is the ultimate liability for the Palestinian people—but this did not empower moderates. Moderates have been telling Israel over and over, "We want a peace deal. We will agree on most conditions that you want." And as Gideon Levy said in this venue, in this same venue, the problem with our policy, that we want to keep the status quo. That means military occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Gaza under siege.

War in Gaza, It's Not [Only] About the 3 Kidnapped Teens

Although the Arab-Israeli conflict is a constant news story waiting to blow up into a full blown crisis at any moment, like the current Operation Protective Edge, which many link to the kidnapping and death of the 3 Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'er and Naftali Frenkel, it is important to remember that in reality the conflict never ends, it just disappears from the front pages.

Recent articles show the history of Operation Protective Edge stemming from the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teens.

The Month That Brought Gaza Back To The Breaking Point

June 12
Three Israeli teens — Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gilad Shaer — attempt hitchhike back to their homes. All three go missing. The youth are studying in Jewish settlements in the territory, the oldest age 19, the other two only 16.

Timeline Of Events In Gaza and Israel Shows Sudden, Rapid Escalation
Although Israel’s offensive started July 8, this set of clashes started bubbling last month when a set of kidnappings and murders in the West Bank and Jerusalem set fire to the Israel and Gaza tension tinderbox. 
June 12, 2014
The tipping point of the latest clashes between Israel and Gaza, by most accounts, was the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. The West Bank is sprinkled with Israeli settlements, which is why the teens, Eyal Yifrach, 19; Naftali Fraenkel, 16 and Gilad Shaar, 16, were in disputed Palestinian territory.
In the hours following the news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority, the newly sworn in unity government comprising of both Hamas and Fatah members in the West Bank, was responsible for the attacks.

But a look at other headlines show that the conflict was as always burning in the background until it exploded with the kidnapping of the teens, which many critics of Israel view as only an excuse to break up the unity Hamas/Fatah government which Israel opposed from the beginning.

Rockets Fired From Gaza Draw Airstrikes From Israel

APRIL 21, 2014
JERUSALEM — Seven rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Monday morning, prompting Israeli airstrikes that hit at least one training site of Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that rules Gaza.
The exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces, as Jews celebrated the last day of Passover, was the most significant clash in more than a month. Combined with recent violence in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the West Bank, the exchange increased tensions as Washington was struggling to salvage peace talks before a deadline next Tuesday.
Two Hamas security officers were slightly injured by one of the three airstrikes in the early afternoon, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. No injuries were reported in Israel. One rocket damaged a road in the Israeli border town of Sderot, one of several communities where residents were warned to be on alert as they went about their holiday barbecues, hikes and prayers.

Israel launches fresh air strikes on Gaza

24 Dec 2013 17:19
A three-year-old Palestinian girl was killed and at least six other people wounded in a series of Israeli air and tank strikes on the Gaza Strip, medical sources said.
Medics named the girl as Hala Abu Sabikha from the central Gaza Strip, noting "three other members of her family were wounded" on Tuesday.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said six people had been wounded in a series of strikes, which came in response to the shooting to death earlier of an Israeli repairing the security fence separating Gaza from Israel.
The Israeli army said aircraft, tanks and infantry "targeted terror sites in the Gaza Strip" in retaliation for the shooting of the Israeli.
"The sites targeted were a weapon-manufacturing facility and a terror infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, a terror site and another terror infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip and a concealed rocket launcher in the northern Gaza Strip," an army statement said.

Two Are Wounded After Israel Orders Airstrike in Gaza

JAN. 19, 2014
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike in Gaza on Sunday aimed at eliminating an Islamic Jihad operative responsible for recent rocket fire against southern Israel, part of a growing cycle of border clashes in recent weeks that reflect the fragility of the 14-month cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian coastal enclave.
A Palestinian man who was riding a motorcycle was seriously wounded in the missile strike, and a bystander, a boy of 12, was also hurt, according to a Health Ministry official in Gaza. There was no immediate confirmation from Gaza that the motorcycle rider was Israel’s intended target, though a website close to Islamic Jihad said the wounded man was a member of the group’s armed wing.
In 2013, nearly 50 rockets were fired out of Gaza into southern Israel, and the Israeli Air Force carried out 10 attacks, striking 24 sites, according to the military. So far this year, 12 rockets have been launched, and Israel has carried out six airstrikes, hitting a dozen targets.

The conflict never ends, it's just that sometimes it gets big enough for the media to decide to pay attention.  If only they got the story right when they decided to pay attention, we would all be better informed.