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  Print view: Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes
COMMENTARY:

Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Their action is inexcusable, absolving Israel, effectively letting its killing machine maraud freely - murdering, destroying, and plundering with impunity, Palestinians again denied justice.

Who do they serve anyway? It's clear from the sham peace talks and a new development. The Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) wants Israel absolved of accountability for Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity. No matter that conclusive evidence exposed them, the result of the IDF's 23-day day rampage, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many severely, and practically leveling wide areas of Gaza, affecting mostly civilian and non-military related targets.

Besides other investigations, two UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ones unequivocally condemned Israel's lawlessness, each demanding accountability.

On September 21, the HRC's independent fact finding Committee issued a stinging indictment, among other conclusions, saying:

"It was clear to the Committee that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets. Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm."

Israel clearly violated Fourth Geneva and other international laws. Responsible officials must be held accountable.

"Israel's actions could not be justified as self-defense." It was unequivocal aggression.

"The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians....It rejected Israel's determination of who is a civilian."

"The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians."

The Committee called the IDF "responsible for the wanton destruction of property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity."

The Committee called Cast Lead crimes so outrageous, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed."

The Committee thus concluded that Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead."

In 2009, the Goldstone Commission highlighted the gravity of Israel's crimes, saying:

Its "report concludes that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole....(It was) a deliberate policy of (collective punishment and) disproportionate force (to) willfully (kill) hundreds of civilians," and inflict extensive "disproportionate" destruction of hospitals, homes, mosques, schools, and other civilian structures.

"As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of (these) serious violations must be held to account."

Mahmoud Abbas said no. His permanent Geneva Human Rights Council envoy, Ibrahim Khraishi, presented a draft resolution not to pursue Israel's accountability, wanting coverup and whitewash instead.

It did it by requesting more time for further investigations, despite exhaustive evidence finding Israel culpable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Abbas, a disgraced collaborator, insulted Gaza's victims and those still suffocating under siege.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned him, saying he's:

"holding justice hostage to politics, and extending de facto impunity to the Israeli military and political leadership."

By so doing, he shares culpability, complicit with Israel's war machine, guilty of not struggling against it. He's a traitor, rewarded for betraying his own people. It's been his longstanding practice for decades, notably for his Oslo Accords role, an inexcusable sellout he may repeat in the current sham round.

PCHR condemned his leadership saying;

By passing this (disgraceful) resolution, (he sent) a dangerous message: "that what happened in Gaza in 2008-2009 is acceptable. With such impunity, there is no guarantee for Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated." In fact, it's virtually certain. In small ways, they continue daily throughout the Territories.

Israel Responds

On September 27, Haaretz published a Reuters report headlined, "Israel calls on UN to end 'obsessively biased' Gaza war probe," saying:

On Monday, Israel called "for an end to United Nations Human Rights Council (Cast Lead) investigations." However, Islamic countries and their allies on the Council urged otherwise. Nonetheless, Israel's ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar said the Council:

"has continually been one-sided and obsessively biased....It did not matter that steps were taken by Israel to protect its citizens while limiting damage whenever possible to Palestinian civilians."

Both Council investigations show he lied, the above conclusions explaining it unequivocally. Israel also whitewashed its own inquiries, absolving culpable government and military officials.

On September 27, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) demanded that the Council and UN General Assembly continue focusing on Cast Lead and its aftermath. Turkey's delegate said:

"Israel must put an end to its culture of violence....and show a new face to the world." Its Gaza siege and May Flotilla massacre show the futility of that likelihood.

On September 29, Ma'an News Agency headlined, "UN vote backs limited Goldstone follow-up," [title changed] saying:

"The UN Human Rights Council endorsed on Wednesday some of the recommendations in a UN-backed inquiry into Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, but the vote drew criticism from human rights groups" for not going far enough.

Despite clear evidence of Israeli lawlessness, the Arab and Islamic blocs tabled a decision, "demand(ing instead) that the UN secretary-general and general commissioner for human rights follow up with" Goldstone Commission recommendations.

A key one involves referring culpable parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) "if they fail to undertake credible investigations on their own." The HRC said they hadn't, so "the next logical step is to establish a tribunal."

However, the PA's resolution obstructs it, a decision human rights organizations condemned "as another violation of the rights of Palestinian victims."

The HRC also denounced Israel's intransigence for failing to cooperate, and refusing to "conduct investigations in conformity with international standards of independence, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness into the allegations."

According to one human rights official:

"They killed the Goldstone process. There will be nothing to follow up on." They plan the same thing for the HRC's Committee of experts. "The decision of the PA not to pursue international criminal justice perpetuates this practice and denies victims' rights."

Their action is inexcusable, absolving Israel, effectively letting its killing machine maraud freely - murdering, destroying, and plundering with impunity, Palestinians again denied justice.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on September 29, 2010.
 

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