I refer to the letter by Andaiye et al (SN 25.1.09) captioned ‘Israel’s intrusion into Gaza is a war crime.’ The letter is, regrettably, even more deficient than its predecessor in the inattention to detail, fact and truth.
Firstly, Andaiye and friends should go outside the narrow corridors of Arab/Hamas propaganda and learn the real truth about the historical and contemporary relationship of the Israeli state to the people of Palestine. It is summed up in testimony to the US House of Representatives in 2002:
“Mr Speaker, in closing, while the background of this conflict is somewhat complicated, the moral dimensions are very, very clear-cut. We have one side that sends soldiers to wipe out suicide bombers; the other side that sends suicide bombers to wipe out guests at bar mitzvahs.
We have one side that publishes maps showing how an Israel and Palestinian state can co-exist; the other side publishes a map which says Israel does not even exist now. One side apologizes when its explosives kill wives and children of killers it targeted; the other side targets wives and children. One side was grief-stricken on September 11 and declared a national day of mourning; and the other side danced in the streets and distributed candies in celebration. One side has never deployed a suicide bomber in its 54 years of existence; the other side has deployed more than 40 in the past 12 months alone…” (Testimony in the House of Representatives 2002; HR1408: “Supporting Israel’s Right to Defend Itself”).
Secondly, it is hypocritical for Andaiye et al to remind us that cadets graduating from a Gazan police academy were not legitimate targets. Al Qaeda has targeted hundreds of such cadets in Iraq, and no one has raised an eyebrow! Hamas, the PLO and Fatah have been the initiators of numerous violations of both the Hague and Geneva Conventions. They deliberately attack Israeli civilians. Phillips has so far made the undisputed point that, “… no fewer than 6,000 rockets and other missiles rained down from Gaza upon its southern towns. No other country in the world would have sat on its hands while its traumatised children were raised in bomb shelters.” (Andaiye et al are silent on this issue!)
Thirdly, and additionally, Levinson has been careful to point out that under international law, and with UN complicity, Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists are guilty of two other major war crimes: (1) They hide among Lebanese civilians while shooting at Israeli civilians; (2) They conceal their weapons and disguise themselves as non-combatants. Levinson concludes: “When the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) returns terrorists’ fire and hits nearby civilians, the terrorists are responsible for those casualties.
The IDF has a duty to try to deliver its fire selectively. This is difficult, however, when the terrorists dress as civilians and hide among civilians.” Andaiye et al subsequently fail to acknowledge that, for a country in open and unrestrained aggression against another state (remember 6,000 rockets being fired, unprovoked, by Hamas) the uniformed members of the Gazan Police Force became legitimate targets for the IDF.
Fourthly, Andaiye et al forgot to elaborate on their “BBC-report” ‘Israel defends use of phosphorus’). Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Ygal Palmor says that the probe had so far found no evidence to support the claims: “Parts of the Gaza Strip are open battlefield… I will content myself with quoting the words of the ICRC, the International Red Cross… that they have no evidence of illegal use of white phosphorus in Gaza and they will refrain from making any comments pending further investigation.” Battlefield phosphorous is not dangerous to civilians who are indoors.
Fifthly, Andaiye et al lament the neglect of a “human rights” dimension in the letter ‘Israel’s action in Gaza is not a war crime.’ It was in fact addressed in the second paragraph.
However, if Andaiye et al hoped to invoke the horror of widespread phosphorus burns in the Gazan civilian population without supplying the evidence, then we should revert to the shrapnel and maiming in another human-rights tragedy – the suicide bombing of crowded Israeli civilian populations under Hamas, Fatah and the PLO in just one 12-month period in 2001 when 33 were killed and 343 injured.
The above is a sample, but explains why Gaza and the West Bank had to be blockaded. Does Andaiye’s reference to “…nothing, but nothing, justifies the massacre of innocent people…” apply here?
Sixthly, Andaiye et al cite Sir Gerald Kaufman and holo- caust imagery,forgetting that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s Hamas are now part of a revisionist crowd that would deny the holocaust ever took place, but more significantly forgetting that the millions of people actually living in Israel under the threat of rockets and bombings overwhelmingly supported the “intrusion.”
Many towns in northern and southern Israel are tonight enjoying peaceful sleep for the first time in years because of Israel’s recent strikes at the heart of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Palestinians foolishly elected Hamas on a promise of continued aggression against Israel, and have reaped the fruit of that error time and again. They should/must learn from their numerous mistakes of the past, reject Hamas and Hezbollah, and negotiate with Israel on non-violent terms. They will find Israel not only willing, but forgiving!