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Posts tagged ‘IDF’

Rumours of war, rumours of peace: Assessing Gaza’s uneasy status quo

Almost a year on from the beginning of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ and the ceasefire that ended hostilities has largely held, albeit with dozens of Israeli attacks on Gaza civilians, the continued blockade, and some half a dozen rocket launches. While the Israeli army and Palestinian factions prepare themselves in the event of a new confrontation, recent developments suggest that Gaza stands between the deterioration of a tense stand-off and a more substantial truce. Read more

When law is the target: Israel’s campaign will whitewash war crimes everywhere

In 2011, and in response to accusations of war crimes during the final months of conflict with the Tamil Tigers two years previously, the Sri Lankan government convened a conference where then-Minister of External Affairs G. L. Peiris declared that “the entire body of international law must be revisited.” Human Rights Watch called the event “a public relations exercise to whitewash abuses.”

This week, a new conference will take place in Israel on a familiar-sounding theme: “Towards a New Law of War.” According to conference organisers Shurat HaDin, the goal of the event “is to influence the direction of legal discourse concerning issues critical to Israel and her ability to defend herself.” Read more

Israel’s culture of impunity, the West’s culture of complicity

In March, I debated the motion ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State’ at the Cambridge Union. Opening proceedings, I suggested that the opposition might well “concede” that “Israel is not perfect”, intentionally missing the point about Israel’s rights violations being systematic.

Revealingly, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Vivian Wineman almost immediately did just that, telling the debating chamber: “We’re not arguing that Israel is perfect.”

Central to how Israel presents itself is the idea that while Israeli political leaders and military officials can and do make mistakes, there is a robust system of legal accountability that means such offenders are brought to book.

Last week has demonstrated how the reality is very different; that Israelis who commit atrocities against Palestinians benefit from a culture of impunity for civilian and soldier alike. Read more

NGOs slam ‘disarmament for development’ as Gaza lies in ruins

Leading NGOs have heavily criticised attempts to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarisation, ahead of a debate about the issue in Westminster today.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) will this afternoon urge “disarmament for development”, as the Israel lobby group launches a new campaign focusing on the Gaza Strip and Hamas.

In their supporters’ briefing, LFI claims: “Reconstruction, lifting the ‘blockade’ of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and demilitarisation are intimately linked: the first two are dependent on the last.” Read more

Internal inquiry must not whitewash Israeli war crimes in Rafah

Over the last couple of weeks in Israel, in what has been called an “exceptionally widespread attack”, politicians, op-ed writers, and reservists have urged the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) Danny Efroni to end investigations into a number of incidents that occurred during the recent assault on the Gaza Strip (so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’)

Out of dozens of alleged incidents of wrongdoing, Efroni has in fact so far ordered the opening ofjust 13 criminal investigations (a number of which are for cases of looting). Yet even this is too much for those who, like Naftali Bennett, believe Israel’s “brave warriors” are being unfairly attacked. Read more

Israel’s strategy: between mowing the grass or uprooting it

“Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good…so far so good…so far so good…” La Haine (1995)

Writing in the Journal of Strategic Studies at the beginning of this year, Bar-Ilan University-based academics Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir discussed the Israeli military’s concept of ‘mowing the grass’, a “new term” that “reflects the assumption that Israel finds itself in protracted intractable conflict with extremely hostile non-state entities.” Read more

One arrest will not alter Israel’s culture of impunity for violence

On the morning of March 19 this year, there were no television crews around to capture the moment when an Israeli soldier pulled the trigger and fatally wounded 14-year-old Yusef Al Shawamreh. There were no photographers on hand nor CCTV cameras rolling as Israeli forces, lying in ambush along the path of the apartheid wall, opened fire on children out to pick plants.

Killed while trying to reach his own family’s farmland, Yusef was shot without warning from a few dozen metres away. There was no “threat”, not even a demonstration: just three friends out to find gundelia, cut down by the soldiers of an occupying army. Read more

Israel’s atrocities in Gaza prompt unprecedented political fallout

“Carnage” in Gaza – “the killing of children and the slaughter of civilians”. Not the words of a Palestinian spokesperson but rather French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Australia’s FM Julie Bishop condemned what she called “shocking” and “indefensible” incidents, with “hundreds of innocent people” killed.

Just two examples of how Israel’s strongest allies have criticised the conduct of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in unprecedentedly harsh terms. In the UK specifically, there has been an undeniable sea-change in the way that self-declared ‘friends’ of Israel have drawn a red line – adding their voices of criticism to more vociferous condemnation heard at numerous, large-scale demonstrations. Read more

Premeditated murder: the Shuja’iyya massacre and Israeli criminality

65-year-old Ahmed Suleiman Akram al-‘Atawai and his 10-year-old grandchild Tala were running from Israel’s onslaught on Shuja’iyya. As they fled, they were hit by Israeli artillery shells, and died.

They were among the dozens of victims Sunday, when Israeli forces pulverised the Gaza City district. Some, like Ahmed and Tala, were cut down in the streets; others were killed when shells hit their homes. A paramedic, killed as he attempted to rescue the wounded. The ‘Ayad family, hit by a missile from an Israeli warplane, killing ten, including three children. Read more

Homes in the crosshairs: Israeli war crimes, deterrence and impunity

On the eighth day of Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip, a senior officer in the Israeli military commented on the overnight bombing of the house of senior Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades figure Marwan Issa. “You call it a home”, the anonymous official said, “we call it a command centre and a military post for all intents and purposes”. For all intents and purposes.

NGO B’Tselem has documented ten examples of family homes bombed by Israel with a combined death toll of 52 persons, including 19 children. B’Tselem described the IDF’s justification for such attacks (which, it noted, changed over time), as “unfounded and illegal”, calling the tactic “punitive home demolition from the air”. Read more