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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/21/21

Israel Isn't Entitled to "Self-Defense" Against the People Under Its Occupation

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As Israel continues to pummel the Palestinian people with bombs and artillery shot into Gaza from troops amassed along its borders in preparation for a ground invasion the Biden administration has reaffirmed its unwavering support for Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians.

Israel could not commit its crimes without the overwhelming support of the U.S. government. U.S. officials are aiding and abetting Israel's crimes with massive military aid and scotching any criticism of Israel in the UN Security Council.

President Joe Biden said he didn't think Israel's attack on Gaza has been a "significant overreaction." He expressed his "unwavering support" for Israel's"right to defend itself" from rocket attacks from Gaza, but he did not condemn Israel's airstrikes that are killing Palestinian civilians and destroying residential buildings, or the Israeli attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

"Blanket statements like these with little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle of violence namely, the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa dehumanize Palestinians & imply the U.S. will look the other way at human rights violations," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) tweeted, and said Biden was giving Israel a "green light" to continue its onslaught.

"By only stepping in to name Hamas' actions which are condemnable and refusing to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians, Biden reinforces the false idea that Palestinians instigated this cycle of violence," Ocasio-Cortez said. "This is not neutral language. It takes a side the side of occupation."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that there is a "fundamental difference between a terrorist organization in Hamas that is indiscriminately targeting civilians and Israel, which is defending itself." But as Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, wrote in an email to this writer, claims like Blinken's obscure the fact that nearly all of Israel's targets have been civilians. And the vast majority of those killed have been Palestinians. Moreover, as an occupying power, Israel cannot use military force against the occupied Palestinian people because under international law, the occupier has a duty to protect the territory it occupies.

On May 13, Israeli troops bombed the Gaza Strip with artillery, tanks and war planes, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prepared at least three brigades of troops for action.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who served as chief of general staff for the IDF during Israel's 2014 massacre of 2,251 Palestinians in Gaza, threatened to commit additional war crimes. Gantz warned that "Gaza will burn" if Israelis have to sleep in shelters.

Hamas has fired rockets into Israel in response to the Israeli attack on worshipers at the holy Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. Seven Israelis have been killed. But 120 Palestinians have been killed and 900 people wounded, according to Palestinian health officials.

"This is the worst I witnessed in my life," Sourani wrote in his email. "No safe haven in Gaza, so bloody and brutal; all the targets, almost are civilians, the most intention to exert pressure on resistance." Sourani added:

They are terrorizing the two million in Gaza day and night, the peak this morning. We did not believe we will see the sunshine again. Everything is shaking in the house including our bodies. They destroyed the civilian police stations and headquarters, internal security, infrastructure, big building towers, etc. None of these, to the best of our knowledge, has any security significance.

The International Criminal Court Is Investigating Israeli War Crimes in 2014

On March 3, 2021, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced that her office was launching a formal investigation into war crimes committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since Israel's 2014 "Operation Protective Edge," in which Israeli forces killed 2,251 Palestinians.

Bensouda found a reasonable basis to believe that Israeli forces committed the war crimes of willful killing, willfully causing serious injury, disproportionate use of force, and the transfer of Israelis into Palestinian territory. She also found a reasonable basis to investigate possible war crimes by Palestinians, including intentional attacks against civilians, using civilians as human shields, and torture and willful killing.

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Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a member of the National Advisory Board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. See  (more...)
 

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