Drones above Gaza as Israel breaks truce; death toll at 5

Article – Julie Webb-Pullman

With the Gaza death toll within 48 hours at 5, the latest victim a 12 year old boy, Israel’s chief of staff Benny Gantz gathered his top army, air force and naval commanders on Friday to “review the security situation.”


Drones spotted above Gaza as Israel breaks truce; death toll at 5

by Julie Webb-Pullman


Drone spotted on Friday afternoon

With the Gaza death toll within 48 hours at 5, the latest victim a 12 year old boy, Israel’s chief of staff Benny Gantz gathered his top army, air force and naval commanders on Friday to “review the security situation.”

A “security situation” created by Israel’s murderous breaking of a truce, with absolutely no cause.

A “security situation” created by Israel sending military forces backed by tanks and bulldozers into Gazan territory, Al Muntar on Tuesday 6th December – a provocation to which Gaza did not respond.

A “security situation” created by Israel on Wednesday 7th December, when Israeli military aircraft targeted a group of citizens near Anas Bin Malek Mosque in Al-shujaeyeh neighbourhood of east Gaza City, killing 22 year old Ismail Salameh and critically wounding two others, and another Israeli warplane fired a missile at another Gazan in al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, seriously wounding him – provocations to which Gaza did not respond.

A “security situation” created by Israel on Thursday 8th December blowing up a car in rush hour in the middle of the city, next to a crowded children’s playground, killing two members of the same family and hospitalising two bystanders. Several busloads of high school students on a school trip were nearby, and fled screaming.

Thousands of Gazans walk past that spot every day, as do I, on my way to the NGO I am working with, and no doubt many were thinking, as was I, “There but for the grace of God…”

Finally, in response to these blatant provocations, on the anniversary of the first intifada, some Gazans responded late Thursday afternoon, with rockets fired at Israel, in self-defence – causing no material damage, and no deaths or injury.

The “security situation” was then escalated by Israel on Friday 9th December, with more air strikes killing two civilians in their home at dawn, one of them a 12 year old boy, and injuring 13 more family members, all of whom happened to live next door to an Israeli ’target’ – provocations to which Gazans again responded, with rockets that neither damaged, killed nor injured any Israelis.

The current situation is a chilling echo of that immediately prior to Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, when Israel ended a four-month cease fire during which rocket attacks from Gaza had dropped to zero, by killing Palestinians, who then fired rockets into Israel.

Launching of rockets at Israel is a symbolic, rather than a murderous, retaliation. The disproportion in the Gazan response was not only in its relative lack of lethality, but also in its relative lack of civilian victims.

Before Benny Gantz and his henchmen trot out the usual justifications, they would do well to reflect on the January 2009 words of Victor Kattan, a jurist with the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London:

“On the very morning Israel launched its offensive in Gaza, the day it killed 225 Palestinians, Gabriela Shalev, its UN Ambassador, sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General announcing that ‘after a long period of utmost restraint, the Government of Israel has decided to exercise, as of this morning, its right to self-defence.’ ”

This statement flew in the face of the facts, which were that there had been no rocket attacks for four months, yet Israel began killing Gazans regardless.

Article 2 of the UN General Assembly’s 1974 Definition of Aggression stipulates that:

“The first use of armed force by a State in contravention of the Charter shall constitute prima facie evidence of an act of aggression.”

This week again, as in 2008, Israel has committed the first use of armed force.

Kattan also pointed out that:

“In 1970, the UN General Assembly in resolution 2649 (XXV) affirmed ‘the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination recognized as being entitled to the right of self-determination to restore to them that right by any means at their disposal.’

As Kattan went on to say:

“Most importantly, the law of armed conflict prohibits belligerent reprisals against civilians, civilian populations and certain civilian objects. This is confirmed in Articles 51, paragraph 6 and Article 54, paragraph 4 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It also goes beyond the proportionality requirement in the law of self-defence.”

For the above reasons, Kattan, and more than two dozen international law experts, all rejected Israel’s claim in the 2008 letter to the UN.

Kattan concluded in 2009:

“Israel’s Gaza offensive cannot be legally justified by any right of self-defense and instead constitutes aggression and a forcible deprivation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

The same holds true today. Israel is not protecting its security, it is deliberately provoking, in order to provide a flimsy justification for another Gaza offensive, a re-cast of 2008-9.

Events in Egypt have Israel worried. It wants Gaza back, but empty of Palestinians.

If the international community does not act now to reign in the rogue state of Israel, it will almost certainly continue with another massacre of innocents. How many thousand Gazans – and anyone else in the enclave, myself included – will die unnecessary deaths this time, at the robotic hands of USraeli drone-delivered missiles decimating civilian targets? (How can there be OTHER than civilian targets when 1.7 million people are herded into a 360 sq km open air prison?)

The international community has no excuses this time.

ENDS

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