Despite the well-documented mass murder that was perpetrated by Israel in its most recent war on Gaza, further details continue to emerge of some of the many crimes committed by zionism during the course of this latest massacre.
The US-based Human Rights Watch, for example, has conducted an investigation into the shocking attacks by Israeli forces on three UN-run schools in late July and early August. The bombings left 45 people who had been sheltering in the schools dead, 17 of them children, and hundreds more wounded (read the testimonies online for full details).
Given its role alongside Amnesty, Avaaz and other modern-day missionaries as a ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ champion of imperialist domination and war, we are not generally in the habit of paying too much attention to the claims of HRW. Occasionally, however, it is forced as a kind of PR exercise to make some comment on the more obviously outrageous actions of the imperialists and their proxies.
Such is the case with the zionist occupation and genocide in Palestine. To ignore it altogether would rather blow HRW’s cover, so it has picked on the most obviously sickening aspect of the latest massacre – the targeting of unprotected civilians and children by the Israeli army – and focused its attentions on that. Still, the evidence it has compiled is useful in exposing the utter moral depravity of the zionist forces.
“The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools, where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians …
“Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools, where people had gone for protection, and the resulting carnage.
“Two of the three attacks Human Rights Watch investigated – in Beit Hanoun and Jabalya – did not appear to target a military objective or were otherwise unlawfully indiscriminate. The third attack in Rafah was unlawfully disproportionate if not otherwise indiscriminate. Unlawful attacks carried out wilfully – that is, deliberately or recklessly – are war crimes.
“In a briefing to media, the Israeli military showed photographs of what it said were rockets hidden in and fired from school compounds. None of the photographs were from the three UN-run schools that Human Rights Watch investigated where many civilians died.
“In the first attack, at about 3.00pm on 24 July, apparent Israeli mortar shells struck a co-educational elementary school in Beit Hanoun run by the United Nations, killing 13 people, including six children, and wounding dozens of others.
At Beit Hanoun “Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that days of fighting in the area had caused most of the people staying at the school to leave, but several hundred remained. Most were awaiting transport to a safer area when two munitions, probably 81mm or 120mm mortar shells, hit inside the school compound.
“Jamal Abu Owda, 58, said he was sitting outside a classroom when one of the munitions struck. ‘Most people got killed in the middle of the courtyard,’ he said. There were ‘shredded bodies, a mix of everything, boys, men, girls, women, a mix of different faces and bodies’. Witnesses said a second shell hit the courtyard shortly after the first, followed in quick succession by two more just outside the school compound …
“On 30 July, at least 10 Israeli munitions hit in and around the UN-run girls’ elementary school in Jabalya, then sheltering more than 3,200 people. The shelling killed 20 people, including three children. An inspection of the damage and photographs of munition remnants found at the site suggest that Israel fired 155mm artillery rounds, including smoke, illumination, and standard high-explosive shells, the last of which produces extensive blast and fragmentation damage.
“Suleiman Hassan Abd el-Dayam, 24, who was staying at the school with his extended family, said three of his family members died and five were wounded in the attack. When he heard the first strike at about 2.00am, he ran to the classroom where women and children were sleeping, and a second munition hit. ‘I saw that my wife had a head injury, so I carried her outside,’ he said. ‘Then I looked for my aunt. I found her, and she was saying, ‘I can’t see!’ So I took her outside too. And my other cousin, Ibrahim, had his legs cut off.’ …
“At about 10.45am on 3 August, an apparent Israeli Spike guided missile hit directly outside a UN-run boys’ school in Rafah, killing 12 people, including eight children, and wounding at least 25. About 3,000 people were taking shelter in the school at the time.
“Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that many civilians, including children, were near the school’s front gate buying sweets when the missile struck directly across the street, about 10 meters away. The Israeli military said it had targeted three Islamic Jihad members on a motorcycle ‘near’ the school, but provided no further information, including why it attacked the men in front of a school sheltering thousands of displaced people rather than before they arrived or after they drove away.
“In addition to these three unlawful attacks, Israeli ground forces reportedly occupied at least one school in Gaza, the Beit Hanoun secondary school for boys, leaving behind bullet casings and rations.” (‘Israel: In-depth look at Gaza school attacks’, hrw.org, 11 September 2014)
Commenting upon the Israeli army’s claims to have launched investigations into the murder of these school children, as well as into the slaughter of the three children who were blown up on the beach in Gaza during one of the most sickening examples of fascist aggression, Human Rights Watch noted:
“Israel has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes …”
Quite why our friends at Human Rights Watch imagine that Israel might undertake credible investigations into its own war crimes is beyond our reasoning, but such is the twisted world we live in, where fascists are presented as ‘democrats’ and the victims of genocide are treated as aggressors.
Assassination of Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha
After months of hunting for the kidnappers of the three settler youths who were abducted and killed in the West Bank in June, the Israelis announced that the two Palestinians (Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha) who are alleged to have carried out the killing had been found and assassinated.
The bodies of the three Israelis were officially declared ‘found’ several weeks after their disappearance. However, evidence later emerged that the Israelis had been aware of their whereabouts and fate almost immediately, but had suppressed the information whilst they used the abductions as a pretext for launching Operation ‘Brother’s Keeper’, which saw the rounding up and imprisonment of hundreds of members of the Palestinian resistance in advance of a full-scale assault on Gaza.
Lt Col Peter Lerner, a robotic, charmless hod-carrier for Israeli fascism, stated quite clearly in September that the Israeli army had turned up at a location they believed to be housing the two Palestinians, and had simply opened fire. There was no attempt at arrest or questioning, and certainly nothing like a fair trial in the courtrooms of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’.
“We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange,” said Lerner. “We have visual confirmation for one. The second one, we have no visual confirmation, but the assumption is he was killed.” A fair assumption given that the house the two men were staying in was left destroyed and burning. (‘Israel shoots dead two Palestinians suspected of killing abducted teenagers’, guardian.co.uk, 23 September 2014)
Rachel Frenkel, the mother of killed Israeli teen Neftali Frenkel, reportedly said on radio: “I’m not all that sorry that I won’t encounter their laughing faces in a courtroom.” (Israel kills two Palestinians suspected of teens’ murders” by Samih Shaheen, news.yahoo.com, 23 September 2014)
Needless to say, the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy burned alive by settler youths, will not face a similar trial by gunfire. Perhaps Mohammed’s parents will have to see the grinning faces of his killers in an Israeli courtroom, and bear the injustice of the disproportionately lenient sentences that will no doubt be handed down. Indeed, the stage has been set for the killers to walk free, since they have entered pleas of insanity.
Fatah and Hamas meet for talks
The timing of the assassination of Kawasme and Abu Aysha could not have been more clearly aimed at scuppering the ongoing negotiations between Hamas and Fatah. Following these negotiations, both sides were due to meet with the Israelis to build upon agreements for a new Palestinian unity government. The Palestinians have several key demands – in particular, the release of prisoners, the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, and the opening of a sea port there.
It’s clear that Israel intends to do all that it can to frustrate the realisation of any of these aims, and that the imperialist media will do their best to present any breakdown in talks as the fault of squabbling Palestinian factions. Sharmine Narwani, commenting for RT on the Israeli attitude to ceasefires and negotiations, has observed that,
“Israel loves ceasefires. It is part of the occupation game. Every so often, Israel flexes its muscles and beats up Gaza. The trigger doesn’t even have to come from Gaza – the place is simply a convenient punching bag and is easily justified by the ‘Hamas-Terror’ language beamed through western media.
“The goal is always the same, regardless of what the Israelis publicly claim: To take down Hamas & Company a notch or two; to inflict pain on the population of Gaza in hope that they will turn on their leaders; to cripple Gaza enough to keep Palestinians busy rebuilding lives, but not fighting occupation.
“The ideal Gaza attack is short and brutal. The longer it continues, the harder it becomes for Israel to control all the ‘variables’ of conflict, and the more likely it is to ‘incur loss’. Israeli casualties, surprise Palestinian weapons/tactics, negative publicity … these kinds of things can make a routine exercise of ‘punishing Gaza’ into a public relations disaster for a sitting Israeli prime minister.”[sup] [/sup](‘Another ceasefire in Gaza? No thank you’, rt.com, 3 September 2014)
Meanwhile, US imperialism and Israeli zionism seem to be having some considerable success in using the Palestinian Authority (PA) as another front in the war on Gaza. Unfortunately for the Palestinian resistance, the leadership of Fatah continues to dance to the tune of the United States and to fail to take up a principled stand alongside the resistance in Gaza.
For example, Fatah’s leaders are now insisting that the unity-government negotiations with Hamas hinge on the recognition of Abbas’s and the PA’s authority, and the taking over by them of the civilian government in Gaza from Hamas. Hamas had quite justifiably expected that the formation of a unity government would result in the large number of Hamas administrators in Gaza getting paid for the first time in many months, and in vital services getting the cash injection they desperately require.
It now appears, however, that any money that might be forthcoming from the West-backed PA will be dependent upon drastic cuts, and on the removal of Hamas-aligned workers and structures. Essentially, the deal on offer seems to be a little bit of aid in return for the abolition of Gaza’s structures of resistance.
“Fatah and Hamas, whose popularity soared in Gaza after the fighting, appeared to have healed a bitter seven-year-old rift in April when they announced plans to form a unity government …
“But tensions have grown in recent weeks.
“The ceasefire struck last month included stipulations that Abbas’s Palestinian Authority should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.
“Hamas thought that would mean its 40,000 employees in Gaza, who have not been paid for months, would be taken care of via the Palestinian Authority payroll.
“But Fatah is loath to give any support to Hamas until it stops running what Abbas has described as a ‘shadow government’ in Gaza …
“In addition, international donors including the European Union who support the Palestinian Authority’s budget first want a thorough audit of workers, and cutbacks to the bloated payroll.”[sup] [/sup](‘Egypt to host Gaza talks between Palestinian factions’, guardian.co.uk, 20 September 2014)
The stakes are high. Israel and the US are hoping in the first instance to wreck any chance of a Palestinian unity government, and, failing that, to use the introduction of such a government as a means of undermining the strength of the resistance in Gaza.
For our part, we believe this strategy will fail. The Palestinian people have shown time and time again that resistance is the only answer they are prepared to give to occupation and genocide. Whether the much hoped-for unity government transpires in the near future or not, there is bound sooner or later to be a resurgence by the forces of resistance.