On September 24, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1435 making clear its demand for “the expeditious withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian cities towards the return to the positions held prior to September 2000” as well as its “demand for the complete cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction.”
Yet even as the resolution, which passed 14-0 with the United States abstaining, was still being debated, Israeli occupation forces attacked Gaza City killing nine people, at least six of them civilians — one a child— injuring dozens and destroying houses and shops.
Despite this Israeli aggression, the UN Security Council did absolutely nothing to enforce its will, and since the resolution was passed on September 24, Palestinians, including children, have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces almost every day, their property continues to destroyed and they continue to gasp under a suffocating siege. Despite a constant Israeli onslaught that has killed nearly one hundred Palestinians in the past six weeks, Palestinian groups have largely continued to refrain from attacks inside Israel. It is increasingly clear that the Sharon-Peres government needs such attacks in order to survive and will stop at nothing to provoke them.
In this atmosphere of total impunity, the Israeli government has now carried out an enormous new war crime in Khan Yunis, in the occupied Gaza Strip. Horrifying details are emerging of the attack, which killed 13 people, at least four of them children, and injured dozens when Israeli tanks and helicopters raided a residential neighborhood. Not only did Israeli helicopters fire missiles into crowds of civilians, causing many of the deaths, but Israeli occupation troops fired at a hospital injuring many more people.
Where is the Security Council? Where is the will to enforce its resolutions? Where are the Permanent Members who daily threaten Armageddon because Iraq tried to move a comma in this or that resolution?
The Palestinian people are being left to the mercy of a merciless occupation, and the world sits by and lectures them on the niceties of parliamentary procedure and proper accounting practices. Can there be a more obscenely inadequate response to a war being waged by the most powerful army in the Middle East against a completely defenseless civilian population whose leadership and institutions have been systematically destroyed, and literally defecated on by the Israeli army?
So to fill this shocking void, Hamas is already threatening bloody horror on the streets of Tel Aviv. Why, they ask, should Israeli civilians be safe in their homes and streets if Palestinians cannot pick olives, go to school, work, breathe, without the ever-hanging threat of violent death at the hands of the occupation over them? It is a sickening logic, which for many people, even those who have consistently opposed such attacks, becomes harder to reason with as the “international community” allows Israel to do what it pleases, when it pleases, with barely or only a few words of protest as the consequence.
We can be sure that when Hamas’ answer comes, as Israelis expect it will, the condemnation will rain down on Palestinians from all those who are now silent and sitting on their hands. Meanwhile, those who call for Palestinians to disarm and “reform,” will continue to supply Israel with its weapons of death and to profit from the enterprise.
We cannot expect from the US government, which supports, arms and finances Israel’s brutal campaign against the Palestinian people, more than we see, although all ordinary Americans should raise their voices against their government’s continued support for this evil occupation. It is so obvious that Israel’s use of American weapons violates the Arms Export Control Act that the State Department refuses make a report on the matter because they know what they would find if they did. A report to Congress finding that Israel is violating the law, which stipulates that weapons be used only in self-defense, would require the suspension of US weapons transfers to Israel.
European states that continue to trade and maintain friendly relations with Israel while demanding from the Palestinians all sorts of “reforms” must also take responsibility. The endless Middle Eastern vacations of the EU’s envoy Javier Solana and the Danish Government’s pathetic attempt to repackage George Bush’s alarming June 24 speech as a new EU initiative should make Europe ashamed to say that it cares about peace for Israelis and Palestinians.
The EU allows Israel to lecture its members — like Austria — about “democracy” while Israel is committing war crimes a short distance away and including in its “democratically-elected government” those who call openly for 1940s-style ethnic cleansing. Many European politicians are now so intimidated by campaigns against “anti-Semitism” — that target them if they dare to criticize Israel — that many of them choose silence. It was European states that did so much to create the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the British and French with their wicked colonial schemes, and Germany by persecuting and ultimately attempting to exterminate Europe’s Jews, driving the survivors out of their homelands. And can there be anything more disgusting than the sight and sound of Britain’s Tony Blair trying to march his country off to war to bring “democracy” and “freedom” to the people of Iraq while Palestine is still bleeding and dying as the result of Britain’s last major attempt at “nation-building” in that region? And if that wasn’t enough, all you need to do is look at Northern Ireland and Cyprus, not to mention India and Pakistan to see the fantastic results of Britain’s meddling. You would think that with a record this catastrophic a British leader — any British leader — would have a bit more humility and work unswervingly to solve festering, decades-old problems before launching new wars.
Europe must take a leading role, demanding justice for the victims of the victims, ending the US monopoly on “peace-making,” and first and foremost by imposing effective sanctions against the Israeli government, starting with an immediate, total arms embargo. Europe must support international protection for the Palestinian people.
Not surprisingly, the UN Security Council has already shown yet again that when it comes to enforcing international law and the Geneva Conventions on Israel, it is irrelevant. If the international community does not want to provide protection to the Palestinians, does not want to take measures to enforce international law for Israel, and does not want Palestinians to use illegitimate means like attacks on Israeli civilians, then let them make it clear that the Palestinian people should be able to exercise their right to defend themselves by fighting against the occupation forces and getting assistance to do so.
Whatever they do, let them please not sit by pretending that a day will come when this Israeli government or any other led by generals and settlement-builders will ever be satisfied with Palestinian performance and will then negotiate an orderly and voluntary end to the occupation. Israel’s goal is to maintain the occupation forever on its terms, to expand the settler colonies, and to destroy what is left of Palestinian society, finishing the job that was started in 1947-48. The destruction is happening bit by bit every day as the bulldozers grind ancient cities like Nablus and little villages every where to dust. Whether the Palestinians remain in their land or go is less important to most Israelis than that they present no challenge whatsoever to the colonial project and exercise no collective power, or sovereignty equal to Israel’s.
Today’s “battle” in Khan Yunis was another victory in the struggle of Israel’s heroic armed forces to prove that there is nowhere, not even the most squalid refugee camps of Gaza, that their 65-ton Merkava tanks and Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers can’t kill and destroy in complete safety. Congratulations on a job well-done boys!