Under international law, Israel is an occupying power that is required to protect those under its occupation. The claim that Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip is disingenuous and deceitful. Israel controls all land, sea and air access to that impoverished area, turning it into the world’s largest open-air prison camp.
For many months, Israel has denied humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilian population, a blockade that by itself can be regarded as an act of war under international law. Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million people is a violation of the Geneva Convention. By purposefully harming Palestinian civilians, the Israel military is committing the serious war crime of collective punishment. Israel has kept innocent Palestinians under a perpetual state of war for more than six decades.
The claim that the Palestinian side broke the cease-fire is also false. As reported by CNN’s Rick Sanchez, Israel broke the truce in early November. Sanchez stated: “I’ve checked with some of the folks here at our international desk, and I went to them and asked, what was he (Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian legislator) talking about, and do we have any information on that? Which they confirmed, two months ago –” this is back in November –” there was an attack. It was an Israeli raid that took out six people.”
As CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “We call for a resumption of the cease-fire that, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was ‘unilaterally violated when (Israel) blew up a tunnel.'” The timing of Israeli strikes calls into question Israel’s political motivation, coming as they do in the final days of the Bush administration and one month before the hotly-contested Israeli election in which the challenger is attacking the incumbent for being soft on security.
The European Union, the Arab League, the Organizations of the Islamic Conference and many other international bodies are urging Israel to end its brutal attacks. Middle East envoy Tony Blair deplored the tragic loss of lives while French President Nicholas Sarkozy condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force.
Our government’s blind support for Israeli attacks on Palestinians harms the prospects for peace with justice in the region and damages America’s image and interests throughout the Muslim world. Israel, one of the world’s strongest military powers, has subjected essentially defenseless Palestinians to a brutal assault in which more than 400 people have lost their lives and thousands more have been wounded. Even after the world and the U.N. pressure to stop the slaughter, Israel continues to carry on its violence.
Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, told the BBC: “Israel is committing a shocking series of atrocities by using modern weaponry against a defenseless population –” attacking a population that has been enduring a severe blockade for many months.”
From 1967 to 1989, the U.N. General Assembly passed numerous resolutions against Israel. The United States has used its veto power to prevent resolutions concerning Israel from passing through the Security Council on 42 occasions since 1970. U.N. Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from land forcibly and preemptively occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.
The only just course of action is for the United States to adopt a balanced approach to the Middle East conflict and to end decades of support for the most extreme wing of the Israeli political spectrum. Our foreign policy must be based on what is best for America, not on the demands of extremists in Israel.
As journalist Charley Reese wrote: “Palestinian independence will only be realized when America gets its independence from Israel.” Only then will Israel’s immoral and illegal collective punishment of the Palestinian people come to an end.