How a war criminal can veto aid to Gaza

A toast for destruction: Yoav Mordechai (left) took part in the 2009 attack on Gaza. (Israeli military)

Has an Israeli war criminal been given a veto on what aid may enter Gaza?

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Yoav Mordechai, a major-general who took part in the 2009 attack against Gaza, had been invited to the European Parliament. Following complaints by Palestine solidarity activists and some of the parliament’s own members, Mordechai’s scheduled appearance was canceled at the last minute yesterday.

He did, however, meet representatives of the European Union’s 28 governments.

It is both grotesque and logical for these diplomats to host Mordechai.

It is grotesque because doing so conferred a degree of respectability on his crimes against humanity. It is logical because the EU is the largest provider of aid to the Palestinians and Mordechai oversees the delivery and distribution of that aid.

At an October 2014 conference in Cairo, the EU promised to cough up €450 million ($514 million) to help Gaza be rebuilt after Israel had bombed it for almost seven weeks in July and August.

That money is being funneled through a “reconstruction mechanism” set up by the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority and an Israeli military body called COGAT, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories. As the current head of COGAT, Mordechai has been directly involved in establishing this mechanism.

COGAT is being given personal data on every recipient of aid. It can refuse entry to aid, if it so wishes.

No remorse

If a known arsonist set your house on fire — and never expressed the slightest remorse for doing so — would you task him with repairing the damage?

Mordechai was a battalion commander with the Golani Brigade, an infantry unit in the Israeli military, during the January 2009 assault.

He can be compared to the putative arsonist. Evidence collected by human rights monitors indicate that troops under his command, or with whom he worked closely, used white phosphorous, a weapon that inflicts horrific burns on its victims.

Six years ago, Mordechai helped to destroy Gaza. Without ever demonstrating the slightest remorse for that war crime, he is now part of an international team determining how somewhere he tried to destroy should be rebuilt.

COGAT handles many aspects of the day-to-day administration of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

In enforcing the siege imposed since 2007, it has been dictating what may enter Gaza long before it was given a kind of UN imprimatur through the so-called Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. (The imprimatur, it should be stressed, does not alter the fact that the siege is illegal; subjecting a civilian population to collective punishment is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention.)

Groveling

Bizarrely, COGAT has been trying to spin its activities as humanitarian. A brochure available on its website boasts of how COGAT approved 235 projects in Gaza that “provide employment opportunities, as well as improve the quality of living for residents.”

Nowhere in its sixteen pages does the brochure acknowledge that many of these projects had been damaged severely by Israeli troops. That is despite the fact that the projects listed include al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, which was attacked by the Givati Brigade, another infantry division. Nor does it acknowledge that the catastrophic damage to the Gaza economy, including mass unemployment, is the direct consequence of Israel’s siege.

Soldiers under Yoav Mordechai’s command were in the surrounding area at the time the hospital was shelled and may have taken part in the assault.

I accept that getting aid to a besieged people can require grubby compromises. Yet in this case, international donors are not only making compromises with the Israeli occupation, they are groveling to it.

The donors have agreed to play entirely by the occupation’s rules. In November last year, the EU’s foreign ministers issued a statement calling on relevant parties to “fully implement” the procedures for checking aid deliveries to Gaza.

Not surprisingly, the statement avoided a crucial point. The man in charge of these procedures is a war criminal.

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Comments

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What amazes me is that no country in the world says, "Israel must pay reparations for the damage it inflicts every two or three years". Insult to injury a war criminal is put in charge of the 'reconstruction' (only to be bombed at a not too distant future).

What drives me wild is that any 'talk' of Israel withdrawing from Palestine Proper (referred to by the jailors as the 'territory' a word that distinctly implies that is their territory, just as Nunavut is Canada's territory) always includes 'dismantling' of the 'settlements'. No talk of leaving those settlements with their state of the art infrastructure as part-reparation.

It will be like the withdrawal from Gaza: the Israelis patted themselves on the back, tore down the 'settlements' (is there a more accurate word?) and then unabashedly stated that Gaza would be a place to deport people from Palestine Proper! What do our governments say? Nothing, as they allow the arsonist to be in charge of the rebuilding. Hubris--it will come. The world's people are waking up that this is THE issue in the world today.

David Cronin's picture

Mordechai met the EU’s political and security committee. All 28 of the Union’s governments - including Ireland - have representatives on that committee.

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The war-mongering Zionist regime must be held accountable for its illegal actions.

That is going to happen soon in the International Criminal Court, which Palestine has recently become a member of.

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There is yet another dimension of grotesqueness in the Gaza situation. At least 80 % of the people living in the Gaza Strip are Nakba exiles or descendants of Nakba exiles. That is to say, the territory that is called "Israel" is the NATIVE COUNTRY of 80% of the people that "Israel" starves, shoots and bombs as it pleases. Don't think that I mean to imply by stating this fact that "Israel" and its allies can put the grotesqueness right by allowing the Nakba exiles of Gaza back into "Israel". "Israel" was founded on the expulsion/exclusion of at least half of the total population of the territory that it conquered (because this half of the population was not Jewish). This fact renders it impossible - LOGICALLY impossible - for "Israel" to be a legitimate state, since its governments have been elected without the participation of a major part of the population entitled to live, be politically active and vote in the territory concerned. This is the very reason why the Zionist Jews excluded the non-Jews in the first place.

David Cronin

David Cronin's picture

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).