Understanding the Gaza catastrophe
Understanding the Gaza catastrophe by Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton University and the UN's special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories.
For 18 months, the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normality of daily life.
Israel refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I myself was expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as in Gaza.
As always in relation to the underlying conflict, some facts bearing on this latest crisis are murky and contested, although the American public in particular gets 99 percent of its information filtered through an exceedingly pro-Israeli media lens. Hamas is blamed for the breakdown of the truce by its supposed unwillingness to renew it, and by the alleged increased incidence of rocket attacks.
Respected and conservative Israeli commentators go further. For instance, the prominent historian Benny Morris, writing in The New York Times a few days ago, relates the campaign in Gaza to a deeper set of forebodings in Israel that he compares to the dark mood of the public that preceded the 1967 War when Israelis felt deeply threatened by Arab mobilizations on their borders. Morris insists that despite Israeli prosperity in recent years and the relative security, several factors have led Israel to act boldly in Gaza: the perceived continuing refusal of the Arab world to accept the existence of Israel as an established reality; the inflammatory threats voiced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, together with Iran's supposed push to acquire nuclear weapons; the fading memory of the Holocaust, combined with growing sympathy in the West with the Palestinian plight; and the radicalization of political movements on Israel's borders in the form of Hezbullah and Hamas.
The people of Gaza are victims of geopolitics at its inhumane worst, producing what Israel itself calls a "total war" against an essentially defenseless society that lacks any defensive military capability whatsoever and is completely vulnerable to Israeli attacks mounted by F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters. Such extreme military asymmetry is more suggestive of a "massacre" than a "war." What this also means is that the flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions, is cynically ignored, while the carnage continues and the bodies pile up.
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Note: What Israel is doing, collevtive punishment, is the same as what the Nazi's did in Europe. When they found one person who threatens the Nazi's, helped the Jews, etc. they punished the whole village.