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OCHA's Special Focus on Occupied Palestine

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OCHA's Special Focus on Occupied Palestine - by Stephen Lendman

On June 9, McClatchy and other publications revealed some of what's rarely, if ever, acknowledged in the press - that Israel's blockade of Gaza is "economic warfare," not for security as most commonly reported, based on an Israeli document the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement's lawsuit obtained.

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Gisha's director, Sari Bashi, said the document shows the siege is collective punishment, in violation of Fourth Geneva's Article 33 stating:

"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

For over 43 years of occupation, Israel has willfully and maliciously violated this and virtually all other Fourth Geneva and other humanitarian rights law provisions.

In the wake of the Flotilla massacre, a Gisha June 9 press release headlined, "The Pyrrhic Victory of Jam and Halva," saying:

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Israel agreed to let these items, razors, coriander, cardamon, and cookies enter Gaza, after banning them for three years. However, it "continues to prevent the transfer of purely civilian goods, such as fabrics, fishing rods, and food wrappers, as part of what it calls "economic warfare" aimed at crippling Gaza's economy, (and by doing so) denies 1.5 million human beings the right to engage in productive, dignified work," let alone rebuild and survive under unending harshness.

The day before on June 8, the London Daily Telegraph's Adrian Blomfield and Alex Spillius headlined, "Israel to accept British plan to ease Gaza blockade," saying:

Its government is willing to do it "in exchange for international acceptance of a watered-down investigation into last week's deadly raid," massacring humanitarian activists in international waters. In other words, a whitewash, along the lines of a June 10 Haaretz Barak Ravid and Amos Harel report saying Washington and Tel Aviv agreed to let former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Tirkel head an internal investigation into the matter, an idea the Obama administration proposed to include international law jurists (nationalities not named, but very likely will be Israelis) and two observers - one American, the other European.

The legality of the blockade will be examined and whether Israel's Flotilla massacre violated international law. On June 9, "A team of (Israeli-appointed) military experts headed by Major General (res.) Giora Eiland began its own examination of the flotilla incident."

On June 11, the neoconservative Weekly Standard's William Kristol headlined, "Sources: Obama Administration to Support Anti-Israeli Resolution at UN Next Week," saying:

Obama officials "have been telling foreign governments that the administration (will) support (a UN) independent commission....to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident" - what Kristol called "an extraordinary singling out of Israel, (a biased) investigation, (and one that will set) a terrible precedent, (perhaps leading to) outside investigations of incidents involving US troops or intelligence operatives (in) our war on terror."

On June 11, Haaretz writer Natasha Mozgovaya headlined, "US denies pushing for Gaza flotilla probe," quoting State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, saying:

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"We are not aware of any resolution that will be introduced at the UN next week....We support an Israeli led investigation and we are open to the potential ways in which the international community can participate in it;" that is, with individuals acceptable to Israel and Washington, ruling out independent judgments - in other words, assure whitewash, the usual practice by both countries to keep sensitive information suppressed.

These investigations won't reveal the purpose of the siege or attack, let alone their illegality. Israel needs Hamas, and would invent it if it didn't exist as a pretext to hype fear, impose harshness, and conduct repeated assaults against bogus security threats - without challenge the way Israel's done it for decades, the Flotilla attack the latest atrocity after thousands of others previously.

Why so this time was to maintain an oppressive siege, keep 1.5 million Gazans trapped, cause enough harm to deter other aid missions from coming, and assassinate designated activists on board, the commandos given names and photos in advance. The death toll - 9 confirmed dead, another 6 or 7 missing, likely dumped overboard to perish at sea.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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