Posts Tagged ‘war crimes’
Just a quick one today folks. I would like to draw your attention to something that popped up in The National a few days ago. Arab-Israeli MP Haneen Zoubi is demanding that Haaretz be allowed to publish an investigative report that was suppressed days before Operation Cast Lead was launched on Gaza. Here are the choice bits:
The investigation by Uri Blau, who has been in hiding since December to avoid arrest, concerned Israeli preparations for the impending assault on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.
In a highly unusual move, according to reports in the Israeli media, the army ordered the Haaretz newspaper to destroy all copies of an edition that included Mr Blau’s investigation after it had already gone to press and been passed by the military censor. The article was never republished.
She [Zoubi] said publication of the article was important both because Israel had been widely criticised for killing many hundreds of civilians in its three-week assault on Gaza, and because subsequent reports suggested that Israeli commanders sought legal advice months before the operation to manipulate the accepted definitions of international law to make it easier to target civilians.
Shraga Elam, an award-winning Israeli reporter, said Mr Blau’s suppressed article might also have revealed the aims of a widely mentioned but unspecified “third phase” of the Gaza attack, following the initial air strikes and a limited ground invasion, that was not implemented.
Not only has this report been suppressed in Israel, a so-called bastion of free speech and democracy in the Middle East, but it has contributed to greater hostilities between the Haaretz newspaper, a widely respected alternative to more right-leaning newspapers such as the Jerusalem Post and the Yedioth Ahoronoth, and members of the Government and media.
On Monday, an MP with the centrist Kadima Party, Yulia Shamal-Berkovich, called for Haaretz to be closed down, backing a similar demand from fellow MP Michael Ben-Ari, of the right-wing National Union.
She accused Haaretz management of having “chosen to hide” over the case and blamed it for advising Mr Blau to remain abroad. She said the newspaper “must make sure the materials that are in his possession are returned. If Haaretz fails to do so, its newspaper licence should be revoked without delay.”
Another Kadima MP, Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet, this week urged Haaretz readers to boycott the newspaper until Mr Blau was fired. [The National]
So not only has the report been suppressed and its author driven into exile, his career as a journalist in Israel possibly ruined, but MPs are actually calling for the newspaper to be closed down. And these aren’t just crazy right-wing MPs either, but an MP from Kadima, the supposedly centrist party. The overwhelming lack of support for Haaretz, apart from a few journalists, is an indicator of how far away from democracy and free speech Israel as a country has gone. A free press is a cornerstone of a free and democratic nation and Israel is failing the test.
For months since Operation Cast Lead in Gaza people have been crying ‘war crimes’ at Israel and baying for blood, particularly focusing on the use of White Phosphorus in civilian areas. Well now, something of note has actually finally happened! For those of you not yet clued up on the news, I will let Haaretz sum it up for me:
The report, compiled by a commission headed by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accuses both Israel and the Palestinians of actions amounting to war crimes during the December 27 to January 18 battle in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
On the day after Yom Kippur, the UN Human Rights Council, which appointed Goldstone, will be convening in Geneva for a special session on the report. Foreign Ministry sources said Tuesday that they expect Arab states will begin to prepare a draft resolution which will call for the report to be transferred to the UN Security Council. In a worst-case scenario, the Security Council could decide to transfer the matter to the International Criminal Court. Under such circumstances, the ICC could issue international arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials who were involved in Cast Lead.
Note, “worst-case scenario” which, for those of you have been keenly watching this conflict for some time now, is an extremely unlikely scenario. As we know, the powers that be are usually very reluctant to actually *do* anything about the conflict or intervene in any particularly direct manner. “Arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials” is practically unheard of.
To prevent this relatively unlikely scenario, Israeli PR has gone into overdrive for the second time this year, the first time being directly after Operation Cast Lead which was believed to have damaged Israel’s international reputation (Heaven knows why, probably all those dead and bloodied Palestinian children on Al Jazeera English), it seems with support for Israel among the public abroad slipping, action must be taken!
So basically it’s telethon time in the Knesset. The big boys are going to get on the phone quicksmart, call around all their international Presidential chums (focusing on the Big 5 Security Council permanent members reportedly) and allay their fears of war crimes. Their focus is believed to be the suggestion that supporting this report would somehow set a precedent making it harder for world leaders to deal with terrorists. Good point, I know all the other world leaders need to leave their options open… like for example, killing 1200 civilians in 3 weeks and using lots of white phosphorus on them and whatnot, I mean why not hey?
Also I believe that The Regev has been deployed. All cower in fear.
”]”]Shimon Peres has gone on the offensive, claiming that the report “makes a mockery of history” as it “fails to distinguish between the aggressor and a state exercising its right for self defense.” Ehud Barak called it “a prize for terrorism” while Danny Ayalon said that the report “is a cynical attempt at role reversal in blaming Israel for war crimes instead of terrorist organizations.” [Thanks Haaretz]
Most people, myself included, think that little is going to come of this. Do not forget the realist political sphere that we circle around in, people. As mentioned above, the powers that be generally don’t like getting involved directly and are generally comfortable with Hamas being ‘the terrorists’ and Israel being the usually justified but sometimes slightly misguided defenders. Amir Oren for Haaretz says the following:
When the smoke of Goldstone’s report clears, the IDF and the government can emerge from the bunker to find that little damage has been done. Israel’s cooperation is needed in the diplomatic arena.
Mondoweiss is pretty angry. I myself expect little by way of progress on this issue any time soon.
PS. In case you were wondering, Hamas didn’t much like the accusations of war crimes, slamming the report, denying such allegations as using civilians and ambulances for cover. Oh and apparently, Hamas “has no intention of harming civilians”. Umm… lol.
UPDATE: Here is the full text of the report, all 574 pages of it.