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Israel Must Be Held Accountable For Its International Law Violations

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Israel Must Be Held Accountable For Its International Law Violations

On June 25, the Palestinians responded to continued, unrelenting and unjustifiable Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attacks against them by striking at an Israeli military post near Kerem Shalom crossing, southeast of Rafah, killing two IDF soldiers, injuring several others, and capturing (not "kidnapping) a third. It set off a swift and deadly IDF response of daily killings and mass destruction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)against defenseless Palestinians helpless in the face of the relentless IDF onslaught.

Events since escalated into a mass conflagration when Hezbollah resistance fighters captured (again, not "kidnapped") two IDF soldiers who apparently illegally crossed the UN-monitored "blue line" into Lebanon as they've routinely done almost daily after withdrawing from the country in May, 2000. Again the IDF responded with overwhelming force by air and with a ground invasion in the south causing vast destruction over a wide area throughout the country including in Beirut, Tyre and Sidon (Lebanon's three largest cities) and now extending to the north in Christian areas and up to the Syria-Lebanon border.

This scorched-earth blitzkrieg, primarily and willfully aimed at civilian targets of all types devastated Lebanon's major ports, the Beirut International Airport, much of the country's essential infrastructure including over 70 bridges, dozens of key roads, all the nation's radars, electrical power plants, 20 or more gas and fuel stations and the Jiyyeh power utility plant south of Beirut spilling about 14,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil (over one-third the size of the Exxon-Valdez spill) along over 90 miles of Lebanon's and Syria's Mediterranean Sea coast posing a serious threat to biodiversity as well as a heightened risk of cancer because this type fuel oil contains benzene which is categorized as a Class 1 carcinogen. Israel also imposed a land, sea and air siege on the country resulting in severe shortages of essential food, medical supplies, fuel and other necessities, and the IDF has bombed factories (including for food), warehouses, dams, civil defense centers, schools, radio and TV stations, mosques, churches, hospitals, ambulances, humanitarian aid conveys, the al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp at Sidon, an orphange and funeral on August 8, and thousands of civilian homes - in total causing damage exceeding $2 billion and rising daily. The outrageous stonewalling US-France proposed UN Security Council resolution on the conflict is nothing more than a mandate to "give war a chance" and let Israel finish the slaughter and mass destruction it's now inflicting in violation of international laws as will be explained below.

It remains to be seen what final UN Security Council action will actually occur as strong Lebanese government and Arab League opposition to the proposed resolution now has made France decide to back down and support an alternate plan requiring a full IDF withdrawal from south Lebanon. In reversing itself, France has now split with the US which still supports the original and unacceptable joint proposal supporting Israel's right to continue its assault.

That month-long assault also deliberately targeted and killed many hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians (likely at least double the officially reported number that now exceeds 1,000), injured thousands more (many seriously), displaced as many as one million others (about one-fourth of the country's total four million population) including over 300,000 children fleeing north for their lives and being targeted and attacked in their cars as they do, and created a vast humanitarian crisis in the country as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) still under attack and occupation since June 25. Both assaults are so ferocious, it's clear they're intended to destroy Lebanon as a nation to prevent it from ever functioning again as it once did as well as forever ending the Palestinians' dream of ever having a viable sovereign state of their own. As will be discussed below, they also are intended to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government in the OPT and legitimate Hezbollah resistance that now has the overwhelming support of over 85% of the Lebanese people including most Maronite and other Christians, the majority Sunni and Shia Muslims that together comprise about two-thirds of the population, and Lebanon's once pro-Western Prime Minister Fuad Sinora. They all are now united against their common enemies - Israel and their complicit US ally.

The Assault on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) Now Under the Radar

While world attention focuses on Lebanon, the daily killings and destruction go on unabated and now under the radar in the OPT. Since the unwarranted assault began against the defenseless Palestinians on June 25, Israel, against two countries, has deliberately and flagrantly violated international law stipulated in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War including article 33 under it that prohibits reprisals against protected persons and property. Below is an account of what the IDF has done as of early August in the OPT in an undisguised act of illegal collective punishment:

--The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including about 44 children and at least 10 women have been killed through August 9. The Israeli human rights monitoring group B'Tselem reports the number killed in July in Gaza alone to be 163, and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reports 210 Gaza and West Bank killings from July 1 through August 7. At least 6 of those killed were executed extra-judicially.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the ground in the OPT also reports:

--The IDF wounded nearly 800 Palestinian civilians (many seriously), including 218 children and 24 women through August 9.

--It fires hundreds of artillery shells and many dozens of air-to-surface missiles into the OPT daily against civilian and so-called military targets that are usually just ordinary buildings Israel without evidence claims are occupied by "militants."

--It conducts mock air raids, and its aircraft (US made and supplied advanced F-16 fighter jets) routinely break the sound barrier (often late at night) at low altitudes deliberately inflicting eardrum shattering and terrifying sonic booms against helpless people.

--It forced many families to leave or evacuate their homes in Rafah, Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia and elsewhere, some of them being warned in Gaza by phone their homes would be attacked.

--It made dozens of incursions into OPT areas killing civilians, destroying agricultural land, buildings, homes and infrastructure and expropriating land Israel intends to keep.

-- It imposed a tightened seige throughout the OPT including curfews, greatly restricting movement and the Palestinians' access to food, fuel, medical attention and other essential goods and services and thus created a humanitarian disaster that's becoming worse.

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