Saturday, April 18, 2009

KBRM admits to Israel war crimes charges

KBRM admits to Israel war crimes charges. This is the only possible conclusion to be drawn from KBRM's introduction to its latest advertisement which states: the charges (of war crimes) were either completely false or greatly exaggerated.

A war crime exaggerated is surely still a war crime.

Let's examine the text of the advertisement to discover where KBRM confirms war crimes were committed and what KBRM considers extenuating circumstances.

Charge: The invasion. The invasion of Gaza was alleged to be a war crime in itself, because of the impossibility of distinguishing between military targets and surrounding civilians.

So KBRM admits it was impossible for Israel to distinguish between military and civilian targets.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk: The fact that six times more Palestinian civilians than combatants were reportedly killed strongly suggested a failure on the part of Israel to respect the fundamental legal obligation to conduct military operations permitting the distinction between military and civilian targets.

But KBRM acknowledges it is impossible for Israel to have launched such a massive attack on Gaza and NOT to have committed a war crime, so we must turn our attention to find why we should excuse Israel from culpability.

Answer.
Every country has the right and duty to protect and defend its citizens. When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it was ‘rewarded’ with an unremitting barrage of 7000 rockets. When a partial blockade (the UN's recommended action to stop aggression) didn't work, and when nobody, including the UN, stepped in to help, Israel had to do something. What other country would endure four years of rocket attacks without striking back?

Let's deal first with the allegation implying that the UN approves of Israel's blockade of Gaza. Article 41 of the UN Charter states:

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

The United Nations Security Council did not recommend a blockade of Gaza. Israel imposed the blockade unilaterally because, although it describes itself as a "beacon of democracy in the Mideast", it did not approve of Hamas' very democratic election win.

This is yet another example of the depths Israel and its supporters descend to to defend the indefensible.

In fact, the Security Council called for the blockade to be lifted here, and the UN states that it already considered Israel's blockade to be in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus a war crime here.

As to Israel's right to self defence justifying the massacre in Gaza, the international consensus is that Israel is occupying Gaza. This is the UN view:

Israel’s continuing occupation of Gaza (since 1967) had been confirmed repeatedly in several international fora, since its 2005 disengagement and the UN confirms ...the Palestinian right of resistance to occupation within the confines of international law and in accord with the Palestinian right of self-determination.

Also, occupying powers are subject to extensive legal obligations, none of which allow massacres. Essentially, under international law, Palestinians are Israeli citizens. A claim of self defense against oneself is a nonsensical concept, void in law.

Furthermore, the UN has repeatedly condemned Hamas' rocket attacks as a war crime. And unless one is guided by the Old Testament rule of "an eye for an eye" rather than international law, one war crime does not justify another.

As the UN states: Violations of international humanitarian law by one party to a conflict offer no justification for non-compliance by other parties.

And the claim of enduring four years of rocket fire compelling a response misses the truth that in the six months leading up to the massacre, a ceasefire was in place, adhered to by Hamas but deliberately broken by Israel to provoke more rocket fire. I question the wisdom of Hamas' response to Israeli provocation but make no judgment as I am not subject to brutal occupation.

Charge: Civilian casualties. An excessive number of civilian deaths has been alleged, with one cartoonist depicting a 10-to-1 ratio.

Well that cartoonist got it horribly wrong because KBRM then admits to a 100:1 ratio of civilian to military casualities. KBRM goes on to state: ...but 92% of the victims between 16 and 59 were listed as male and ...it is hard to believe that this predominantly male, fighting-age group was mostly innocent civilians.

Thus Israel arrives at a 25% civilian toll as opposed to the accepted figure of 65%: "If you are of fighting-age, male, and we killed you, you are a fighter."

In fact, this is exactly Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories. Never mind that males do what males do in times of war and put themselves in danger, between their families and the enemy.

It reminds me of the Stalinist policy of gendercide: kill the fighting age males between ages 15 and 55. Stalin managed to alter the population statistics in the USSR to as much as 70% female to 30% male over the decades from 1930 to 1960. Interestingly, large numbers of Israeli immigrants are ex-USSR.

Moving on through the advertisement:

Charge: ‘Lop-sided’ ratio. The 100-to-1 ratio of Palestinian deaths to Israeli deaths has also been claimed to be evidence of a war crime.

Answer. If casualty ratios were an indicator of morality, then the Allies in World War 2 would have been guilty of war crimes. In fact, ‘body count’ has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong.

Quoting again the UN Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk: The overall ratio of deaths (1,434:13) also provided a basis for challenging the legality of initiating a military assault with modern weaponry against an essentially defenseless society.

Coercively confining the Gazan population to the combat zone during the military operations had effectively denied the Palestinians in Gaza a refugee option.

Such a war policy should be treated as a distinct and new crime against humanity and explicitly prohibited.


So the kill ratio does indeed permit a war crimes charge to be laid. The outcome, of course, is up to the hearing, if Israel ever allows itself to be judged by international law. Don't hold your breath.

In fact, Mr Falk finds the massacre so appalling that he suggests a new war crime, that of penning your target into a confined area and proceeding with a turkey shoot.

And what strange reasoning by the writers at KBRM, confusing the issue of whether war crimes have been committed with "who is right and who is wrong". There can be no moral justification for committing a war crime.

There is no doubt the Allies committed war crimes in WWII. Unfortunately for Israel, the difference is that the Allies totally vanquished their opponents. Israel's opponents are still fighting, still lashing back regardless of rewrites of history, neither annihilated, swamped, vanquished nor defeated. Indeed, war crimes may yet prove to be the undoing of the discriminatory Jewish State.

More from the advertisement:

Charge: UN school ‘massacre’. Israeli troops were alleged to have killed dozens at a UN school used to house civilian refugees.

Answer. Later investigation found that an adjacent street, not the building, was hit and that 12 people outside were killed, of which nine were armed terrorists. (Google ‘hamas claims proven false’.)

Firstly, the Google search result actually originates from the Israel National News website. In a political environment where the usual left/right paradigms, especially regarding the value of (non Jewish) human life, are so skewed that Genghis Khan would sit comfortably in the centre, INN is so far off the scale you would risk your neck circling clockwise forever. A cruise through their Blogs section will soon enlighten you as to their politics.

Secondly, take note of this press release from the United Nations (UNRWA), which informs us how certain media organisations distorted UN announcements and affirms it stands by all its statements regarding the Gaza massacre (my term). And these are some of the statements the UN stands by:


Direct Hit on UNRWA School Kills Three in Gaza

third United Nations school hit by Israeli forces

DEADLY ISRAELI STRIKES ON SANCTUARIES ‘TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE’,

Next we will consider:

Charge: Phosphorus bombs. Israeli troops allegedly used illegal phosphorus bombs.

And KBRM's defense of the use of white phosphorous bombs:

Answer. The use of phosphorus in flares and smoke-screen bombs is not unusual and is legal, but Israel is investigating further. In the meantime, Palestinians sent an axe-wielding murderer into a play area to kill children (Google ‘axe-wielding Palestinian’).

One might ask again about the moral compass of the principals of KBRM, DR Rodney Brooks, Wanaka, New Zealand and Simon Kuttner, Israel, when they place the actions of a lone Palestinian, undoubtedly avenging an Israeli act that affected him personally, side by side with the actions of one of the modern era's mightiest armies, the IDF.

One man, belonging to a dispossessed and oppressed people compared to an army largely funded by billions of US dollars for totally self-interested and venal purposes. The compass needle is oscillating! Where is north, exactly? Rodney and Simon?

Anyway, the respected Human Rights Watch has issued a report titled Rain of Fire.

Please take the time to read this report.

On a personal note, my wife and I watched, live on Iranian Press TV, after the so-called unilateral ceasefire declared by Israel, Apache gunships lazily circling above Gaza randomly firing off white phosphorous bombs into a defenseless population. And we have seen videos and photos of adults and children killed, dying or maimed by these incendiary bombs.

These are not propaganda productions. They are presented by ordinary people attempting to live in extraordinary circumstances, who now can use modern technology to share their experiences and their grief with the world. Just Google "youtube gaza" or go here.

Israeli charges. Rumours of possible ‘war crimes’ were passed by an officer to the Israeli Chief of Staff for investigation. They were leaked to the press, which reported them as fact, including a charge that a soldier deliberately shot a woman and her two children.

Answer. Investigation found the charges to be false (Google ‘case closed on gaza’). The fact that the Israeli army (and press) took these allegations seriously is an indication of Israel's high standards of morality.

The Google search suggested will take you here.

Of course, we all believe an army who investigates allegations of war crimes against itself and concludes there is no case to answer. Don't we?

And Israel took numerous allegations of war crimes by the IDF so seriously that it conducted its entire investigation in a mere 11 days before declaring "case closed."

Like the PLO and Hamas, the IDF is a deeply cynical, self-serving organisation.

The final charge, according to the KBRM advertisement:

Charge: Obscene T-shirts. Some Israeli soldiers had purchased hateful T-shirts.

Answer. The T-shirts are indefensible, and shocked and outraged Israelis. But what do they show? That Israel, like every country in the world, including New Zealand, has ‘undesirables’. Fortunately, their number is small and they do not reflect or influence official Israeli policy.

This article in Haaretz gives more details, including descriptions of the prints soldiers requested. More important is that the IDF did not initiate any disciplinary hearings over the "hateful T-shirts".

KBRM's parting shot (view the advertisement) encapsulates why the conflict has never been settled. Israel just moves the goalposts and carries on building illegal settlements in the West Bank, which Israel refers to as the mythical, Biblical Judea and Samaria. For a country that can't distinguish fantasy from fact, the self-delusion the Jewish nation exhibits with its denial of its attempted genocide of Palestinians is no surprise.

The fact is that this totally asymmetrical conflict is not about Hamas, or the PLO, or the PA, or the War on Terror (now officially over) but about the rights of the dispossessed and oppressed people of historic Palestine.

And yes, folks, KBRM know all about my blog.

I know, because I email them every new post, and they studiously ignore me, which is why I welcome your comments.

I would love to engage them in a debate, especially about the credibility of the sources we each refer to...ah well, dreams are free.

2 comments:

  1. "Essentially, under international law, Palestinians are Israeli citizens."

    Exactly.

    KBRM: "In fact, ‘body count’ has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong."

    In itself, this line is unremarkable - once we remember that it could not be used by a murderer, or where the casualties are predictably a very large number of civilians. This line is intended to persuade the reader that whether Israel was right or wrong depends not on its actions but on a permanent, pre-assigned role: as long as it is 'right' and says 'they forced us to do it', you have a blank cheque to commit war crimes. 'Right' is reduced to a synonym of 'our side'.

    http://hum.mbreen.com/gaza2009.html

    As for the UN school massacre,

    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/the-wretched-globe-and-mail/

    "Israel prevented the media from entering Gaza because even the most sympathetic reporting can inadvertently reveal damaging details. ...
    As a testament to its propaganda utility, the Globe and Mail’s wretched little story has been exploited by the Orwellian named ‘pro’-Israel groups UN Watch and Honest Reporting Canada, which both tried to imply Martin’s report proved Israel never attacked any UN schools. A simple lie."

    Let us also recall Israel's attempts to claim that they were responding to rockets being fired from within the Fakhura school - using a video later exposed to be from 2007.

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  2. On those T-shirts: Uri Blau's article in Haaretz makes it clear that they are a widespread phenomenon, part of the Israeli army's culture, even if they are not generally acceptable outside it.

    When morality breaks out of the army (in the form of groups like Breaking the Silence http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il), it is because it can't break in. Idealistic conscripts - the army's white sheep - are brutalized. Read, for example, about the peaceful Haggai in Deb Reich's article 'The Little Mermaid on Highway Six' (http://dissidentvoice.org/Apr06/Reich24.htm), or the well-meaning Bar in Susan Nathan's book 'The Other Side of Israel'.

    If the problem is that Israel has 'undesirables' then that tag applies to the Israeli army as a body: a rotten apple from the rotten tree of a colonial, racist ideology. For Zionists, the 'undesirables' are the natives; the Israeli army's behaviour towards them follows naturally from this.

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