More than 1,400 Palestinians, 83 percent of whom were civilians, were killed during that offensive. Because Cast Lead was an unprovoked act of aggression against a people who had already been subject to a medieval siege, all those responsible for its planning and execution can be considered criminals.
Yet there are also reasons to suspect that Mordechai authorized particularly heinous crimes.
Reports in the Israeli press indicate that soldiers under his command took part in an assault on the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on 15 January 2009.
Attack on hospital
Al-Quds Hospital was among the buildings hit by the Israeli military in that neighborhood, resulting in the death of an eight-year-old girl. A report by a United Nations fact-finding mission concluded that no warning of the attack was issued beforehand. Failure to issue a warning violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, according to that report.
Amnesty International has gathered evidence that white phosphorous, a weapon that causes deep burns, was fired on the hospital, part of which was set ablaze. The use of white phosphorous against medical facilities is illegal under international law.
Mordechai took charge of the Golani Brigade’s Thirteenth Battalion after it had invaded Gaza in 2009. He replaced Oren Cohen who had been accidentally wounded by his fellow Israeli troops.
Following Operation Cast Lead, the European Parliament passed a resolution stating that Israel should be held accountable for its war crimes. Welcoming a participant in those crimes to the assembly’s headquarters makes a mockery of that stance.
Holding the title of major-general, Mordechai plays a key role in overseeing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Since January 2014, he has headed the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). Part of the Israeli defense ministry, COGAT is responsible for the upkeep of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The construction of Israeli settlements is a war crime. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power is forbidden from transferring its civilian population into the territory that it occupies.
Previously head of the misleadingly titled “civil administration” — a military body enforcing the occupation — Mordechai was responsible for the checkpoints, which severely restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement in their own homeland. In 2010, the mass circulation newspaper Israel Hayom reported that he proposed to the Israeli defense ministry that Palestinian land in the West Bank be confiscated in order to build a high-speed rail link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Mordechai has been invited to an address a meeting called by the European Parliament’s delegation to Israel.
A note sent to some members of the parliament by the delegation’s chairperson, Italian politician Fulvio Martusciello, says that Mordechai’s visit presents an “excellent opportunity to carry an open dialogue, as well as [to] raise issues of mutual interest.”
That choice of words is puzzling. The European Union regards the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as unlawful. How is it in the “interest” of the EU’s elected representatives — or more importantly, their voters — to enter into an “open dialogue” with someone who coordinates criminal activities?
As part of his long history in the Israeli military, Mordechai has also worked as its chief spokesperson. Like many other propagandists, he has not hesitated to tell lies.
In May 2011, Israel killed at least thirteen Palestinian refugees who had marched towards Israel’s boundaries with Syria and Lebanon. The refugees were commemorating the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Without producing a shred of evidence, Mordechai claimed that the protests were an “Iranian provocation.”
By welcoming a suspected war criminal, the European Parliament is helping to perpetuate the impunity that Israel enjoys.
Update: Yoav Mordechai failed to show up for his meeting in the European Parliament this morning (Tuesday, 3 February).
- European Parliament
- Yoav Mordechai
- Operation Cast Lead
- Tel al-Hawa
- Gaza City
- Fourth Geneva Convention
- white phosphorous
- Amnesty International
- Golani brigade
- Givati brigade
- Oren Cohen
- Israeli settlements
- West Bank
- Fulvio Martusciello
- European Union
- ethnic cleansing
- Al-Quds Hospital