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Palestine and Israel

Palestine and Israel (10)

With all the domestic political activity going on in the UK, we must not forget the situation of Palestine. It has been a while since the humanitarian flotillas went over there with basic provisions for the Palestinians during an inordinately severe Israeli attack (we must remember they are attacked every day).  The aid workers were attacked, and some were killed by Israeli armed forces, and not too long ago, the case came up in front of the International Criminal Court. As usual, they got away with their horrific crimes. Here is my commentary on the subject- Yamin Zakaria


The International Criminal Court (ICC) was founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute. Its purpose is to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide". If the national courts are unable to deal with such matters then the role of the ICC becomes imperative, even more so if the incident is an international one involving multiple nations.

It may appear that the ICC confines itself to examining events retrospectively, bringing culprits to justice for past crimes, but its judgments also serve to deter others from transgressing in the future. In fact the collective aim of all international organisations, including the ICC, is to prevent the escalation of conflicts between nations, thus preventing war or any other incident that causes large-scale bloodshed and loss of life, which may include war crimes.    

This is why the ICC also has a duty to look at smaller events with a lower casualty rate that may not be classed as war crimes, but that have the potential to escalate into full scale wars and atrocities. Yet, the ICC acted contrary to this spirit with its decision, made in November 2014, not take any further action over the Israeli raid of the Mavi Marmara aid convoy on 31 May, 2010, which resulted in the deaths of nine unarmed civilians. The reason given for this decision by Ms Fatou Bensouda of the ICC is that the incident did not rise to the level of severity of a war crime, which would have involved a much larger number of deaths. Yet she also stated that there was "reasonable basis" to believe that war crimes had been committed.

In short, she was suggesting that although a war crime may have happened, it was not quite severe enough to be investigated by the ICC. Her statement implies that in order for the ICC to mete out justice, a particular level of severity has to be reached.  The nine deaths are not enough, and therefore, a minimum, albeit unspecified, number of killings would need to take place. Surely, any war crime is to be condemned and punished by the ICC regardless of the number of deaths that have occurred?

The fact is that Israel attacked an aid convoy, and not a military ship posing a threat over international waters. In doing so,  it violated International Law and murdered nine civilians. If the incident did not warrant a full ICC investigation because it was seen as a lesser crime, then some alternative measure should have been taken, to provide justice to the victims’ families and help minimise the possibility of the conflict escalating.

Failure to nip international violence and injustice in the bud may trigger a future war. Many commentators argue that some of the decisions made by the League of Nations after the First World War contributed to the Second World War. indeed, seemingly small incidents can lead to bigger events, igniting full-scale conflicts. Human history records many of these incidents. It was the killing of one man in Sarajevo, Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the First World War 100 years ago, resulting in the deaths of millions. When the Caliph in Baghdad killed the ambassador of Genghis Khan, it led to a swift reprisal on a massive scale. When the Israeli ambassador was shot in the head, it triggered the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that killed thousands of innocent civilians. The point being made is that international incidents of this nature involving killing, must be investigated thoroughly, especially when they occurs in a volatile area where the possibility of conflict is always looming.

The ICC’s decision not to investigate the Mavi Marmara raid sends the wrong signal to this unstable region, especially because Israeli aggression already goes unchecked there. Israel is the only nation in this part of the world that constantly flouts International Law and ignores countless UN resolutions. It needs restraining. Its disproportionate response over Gaza is one of many clear examples of heinous crimes that it has committed against a largely civilian population. Far from having a preventative effect, the ICC’s decision to let Israel off the hook, and will only embolden the nation to commit further aggression in the future.

We see Western powers intervening militarily on a regular basis to assist humanitarian causes.  The Mavi Marmara aid convoy was also supporting a humanitarian cause, but was doing so peacefully without the backing of armed forces. The  convoy, containing people from all parts of the world, was  delivering much needed aid to desperate people who are in what a British minister described as ”the largest open air concentration camp”.  If a similar incident had occurred involving the Iranian armed forces raiding an aid convoy, then there would most certainly have been an outcry, with calls for a full investigation. But, because Israel is an ally, the media interest isn’t there to highlight and scrutinise its actions.

This was also an opportunity to demonstrate that international organisations do not exist primarily to serve the wishes of powerful nations.  Had the ICC taken reasonable measures over the Mavi Marmara, it would have helped to dispel that view. Instead, the ICC gave its tacit approval for Israel to continue operating like pirates on international waters with impunity, and as demonstrated throughout history, this oversight of an apparently lesser crime, may have the unfortunate consequence of triggering a far more serious situation, leading to the unnecessary loss of countless innocent lives.

Yamin Zakaria

London, UK

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, immediate economic sanctions were applied followed by military action; when Russia invaded Ukraine, economic sanctions followed; Israel invades Gaza, breaks humanitarian laws, ignores human rights and the Geneva convention, and continues to defy international law by building settlements in the West Bank, of which 60% is under military occupation, and no action is taken against sacred Israel. In fact, it’s still poor Israel, the victim, ‘defending’ the borders by attacking: hospitals, schools, water plants, sewage works and even small children playing on the beaches are not spared.

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing. You can't defend yourself when you're militarily occupying someone else's land. That's not defence. Call it what you like, it's not defence.”

Professor Noam Chomsky

President Obama wants to broker a ceasefire, but what is the credential of the US to play the role of an impartial broker? This is the country that has armed Israel to the teeth, it continues to finance their existence and turn a blind eye to the creeping colonisation of the remaining territories of Palestine; with unrestrained access to the US media, the Zionist narrative is fed to the American masses, who above all, stand by Israel, no matter how many Palestinian civilians are killed and maimed, whilst the Israeli casualty figures barely reach double figures.

Let us put aside the point of US neutrality to act as a peace maker. The issue is - brokering a ceasefire could only take place, if both sides had something to negotiate. This conflict is not a fight between two armies; it’s a one-sided massacre of civilians and the destruction of their livelihood and properties, accomplished efficiently with US made weapons. Therefore, the brokering process is essentially about getting the Israelis to halt their war machine, even if Hamas were to continue to fire the rockets, the Israeli casualties will remain close to zero.

As usual, the Zionist apologists will point out the home-made Hamas ‘rockets’ as the cause. If you want to identify the cause, then examine the sequence of events, and the long-term Israeli strategy to suffocate the Palestinians, in the concentration camp of Gaza. Not to mention the Zionisation of the West Bank, where the illegal settlements (theft of land) continues to grow, in flagrant breach of International Law. This process is to facilitate the right of return for the Jews, whose ancestors may have lived there, and concurrently the dispossessed Palestinians within the last 100 years are still seeking their right of return. Many still have the keys to their houses, now occupied by thieves, known as ‘settlers’. In addition, the impact of these so-called rockets have been magnified beyond all proportions, and then recycled continuously through the Zionist dominated media, to justify the carnage.

As we entered the 5th day of the conflict in the month of Ramadan, the UN managed to issue the most ridiculous statement with no provisions for any action; the statements suggests the conflict is a two-way battle, both parties should share the responsibility equally, but the facts on the grounds show otherwise.

“The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.”

Well so far only the Palestinians have suffered 140 casualties and no deaths of Israelis reported, therefore, the statement should have reflected that, placing much greater burden on Israel to ensure protection and welfare of civilians in Gaza. It then goes on to say the following.

“The Security Council members further called for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.”

This can only apply to Israel, whose army and the civilians are beyond the reach of the Palestinians in Gaza; the IDF has been busy destroying houses, killing civilians, cutting off power supplies to essential services like hospitals. During the previous incursion into Gaza in 2006, Israel prevented medical aid getting through and firing at ambulances, by the end of the operation, 1500 Palestinians had been killed, whilst Israel suffered only 17 casualties.

The Zionist dominated media narrative, along with the voices of western leaders, tells us the following about the Israeli incursion:

It’s not a war crime despite the deliberate killing of defenceless civilians, and the wanton destruction of their properties; it is not terrorism despite the killing of non-combatants; it is not a collective punishment of a population, even though it is acting in retaliation for the actions of a few, and it is not a one-sided massacre, even though over 99% of the victims are the Palestinian - Israel the victim, is simply defending itself.

Acting in self-defence means, it is a preventative measure and not a full scale offensive like that taken in a war situation. Given the failure of these Hamas rockets to inflict any casualties or real damage, and many of the missiles are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system, the ‘defensive’ measures taken by Israel by bombing Gaza, are well beyond what is required, because Israel’s intention is to wage a war, and subdue the Palestinian will for existence. As the Palestinians are suffocating in the Gaza concentration camp under siege, they will naturally retaliate with crude weapons, and this in turn has become a basis for the Israeli slaughter, in the name of self-defence. Since when did the Israeli Defence Force ever carry out a defensive operation after the end of the 1973 war? Lebanon to Gaza has been a one-sided carnage of cities and the civilian population.

So why has Israel attacked Gaza? Professor Noam Chomsky answered this question during the previous incursion into Gaza, and I think the answer is still applicable now.

“The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel, it is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenceless civilian population, is the final phase in a decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians.”

Finally, the Arab clowns sitting as heads of state, collectively the impotent Arab league, which has never managed to erect anything. The Arab ‘leaders’ are paralysed and speechless; they could not even muster a protest. It’s uncomfortable to confront the Israelis through the US and over the last 30 years, the Arabs have become accustomed to fighting each other, so much so, it kind of evokes the pre-Islamic stories of tribes fighting for 40-years, just over a camel.

So what does the future hold? The Arab Spring has come and gone, the new Caliphate (ISIS) has mysteriously emerged from nowhere, and I suspect that too will vanish or prove to be just as hollow with the passage of time.

Yamin Zakaria (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Published 13/07/2014
London, UK

Please remind us again - is Israel the only democracy in the Middle East, where the rule of law prevails! It is nauseating to put up with jibes that are not only false, but carry an obvious racist undertone, implying that the Arabs are not civilised enough to be democratic. Israel could have proven its democratic credentials by capturing the culprits that killed the three Israeli teenagers, and then trying them through the courts. Instead, it embarked on the usual route of issuing collective punishment on the entire Palestinian people by bombing Gaza, carrying out arbitrary arrests of ‘suspects’, and invading Palestinian houses at will, as if they have no basic human right of privacy; such behaviour is reminiscent of the Nazis in Germany hounding the Jews, and not a modern democracy.

It is not enough that Israel continues to use the victimhood of Nazi Germany, known as the holocaust industry, to make political mileage, but they go further and use that perversely to justify the persecution of the Palestinians in a way that is replicating the Nazi behaviour. To some extent this makes sense, as the defenceless Palestinians are far easier to blame and target, than confronting the mighty Germans.

All of the major pro-Israel Lobbyists, including Barack Obama just a few days ago, have used the word "delegitimisation" to condemn critics of the State of Israel and its policies. Earlier this month, the British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband affirmed his status as a Zionist in a speech to the Board of Deputies of British Jews in which he equated odious anti-Semitism with "delegitimisation of Israel" as if the two are one and the same thing; they're not.

Almost everyone who has ever condemned Israel's illegal activities and abuses of international human rights legislation and conventions has been accused of trying to "delegitimise" the state. The pro-Israel Lobby cannot, and will not, accept that criticism of Israel's actions does not necessarily mean that you want to destroy the state; hate the deeds, not the people who do them is a motto I teach at school to young people confused when people like Obama and, in Britain, David Cameron and Miliband, claim to be advocates of peace and justice and yet routinely proclaim their support for a country which displays the characteristics of a rogue state in almost every sense.

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