On Tuesday, July 29, Ibrahim Barzou and Yousur Alhlou of the Associated Press reported on that deadly day in Gaza:
Israel unleashed its heaviest air and artillery assault of the Gaza war on Tuesday, destroying key symbols of Hamas control, shutting down the territory’s only power plant and leaving at least 128 Palestinians dead on the bloodiest day of the 22-day conflict.
On Tuesday, multiple members of at least five families were pulled from the rubble after airstrikes and tank shells struck their homes, including the mayor of the Bureij refugee camp, his 70-year-old father and three relatives, according to Palestinian health officials.
In all, at least 1,229 Palestinians have been killed, including 128 on Tuesday, making it the single deadliest day since the start of fighting on July 8, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra. More than 7,000 have been wounded, he said.
That sounds suspiciously like, as Rashid Khaliki writes in the New Yorker “Collective Punishment in Gaza.”
It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives.
… What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance.
Back to Barzou and Alhlou:
The Israeli military has said it is targeting Hamas command centers, along with rocket launchers and weapons arsenals, but has not provided explanations when asked about specific strikes in which many members of a single family were killed.
Perhaps because they know that no justification exists. Yesterday at Foreign Policy in Focus, Phyllis Bennis mirrored Khaliki.
There’s no question that Hamas’ primitive rockets violate international law. They can’t be accurately aimed at military targets. But that doesn’t justify Israel’s violation of its own obligations under international law as the occupying power in Gaza.
Israel has the region’s strongest military, the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East, and the unconditional backing of the United States. Its assault on Gaza violates the Geneva Conventions. Israel is imposing collective punishment against all Gazans, attacking hospitals, and using disproportionate force.
Operation and operation, Israel and the IDF (Israel Defense Force) act with absolute impunity. For instance, after Israeli tanks shelled the school in Jabaliya on Tuesday, BBC reported:
[Chris] Gunness from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told the BBC that Israel had been told 17 times that the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was housing the displaced. … [He] said “the world stands disgraced” by the attack, in which 15 died and dozens were hurt.
Ms. Bennis again:
Meet Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament. She belongs to Israel Home, a far-right party in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. She issued on Facebook what amounts to a call to commit genocide, by deliberately killing Palestinians, including women, children, and old people.
“The entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” Shaked posted. “In wars, the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
Ms. Shaked ventures into rabble-rousing that greases the skids to genocide, such as in Rwanda where the Tutsis were called cockroaches:
The Knesset member went on to say that the mothers of Palestinians killed should follow their dead sons to Hell: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
A quick Google search reveals that Israel has only been taken to task for war crimes in an official capacity by the Goldstone Report and one occasion when they were charged with war crimes in August 2013:
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) will be hearing war crimes and genocide charges against Amos Yaron, a retired Israeli army general and the State of Israel from 21 to 24 August in Kuala Lumpur.
This is the first time that war crimes charges will be heard against the retired general and the State of Israel in compliance with due legal process. The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC), having received complaints from victims from Palestine (Gaza and West Bank) and the Sabra – Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, in 2012, investigated these complaints resulting in the institution of formal charges on war crimes against the accused.
But, Haaretz reported (behind a paywall) on June 14,
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday launched a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in its current Gaza offensive, backing Palestinian efforts to have Israel held up to international scrutiny.
Meeting in Geneva, the 46-member council backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes, with supports from Arab and Muslim countries, China, Russia, Latin American and African nations.
The United States was the only member to vote against the resolution, while European countries abstained.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office fiercely condemned the UN council’s decision as a “travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere.”
We’ll give the last word to Khaliki, just because it’s a trenchant quote:
… the United States puts its thumb on the scales in favor of the stronger party. In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.