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After Gaza, some accounting

The Israeli bombGazaardment of Gaza may have left the headlines, but only now is the full story of destruction and abuse coming to light. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine has been meeting in emergency session in Brussels, taking evidence on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

It has found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The tribunal’s Jury reported:

The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.”

The jury comprises respected human rights lawyers, such as Britain’s Michael Mansfield and Radhia Nasraoui from Tunisia, as well as Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva, former UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk and screenwriter Paul Laverty, amongst others.

Among the war crimes documented by the tribunal were wilful killing, extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects, disproportionate use of force, attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education and the use of Palestinians as human shields.

One witness, Ivan Karakashian, the Advocacy Unit Coordinator at Defense for Children International, testified how a 16 year old boy was stripped naked and used as human shield by Israel for five days. He was denied food, water and sleep – and mentally and physically abused, including being lashed with a wire across his back.

American journalist Max Blumenthal reported testimony he took from 19 year old Mohammed Abu Said:

of how Israeli soldiers stripped him naked and sniped at neighbours, then set the dogs on him in between shooting rounds.”

German journalist Martin Lejeune reported how more than 90% of Gaza’s agricultural output was destroyed by Israel over the summer, with almost all farms destroyed:

Israel destroyed 220 factories in Gaza; this constitutes around 70% of Gaza’s industrial output gone. There was no military justification for the destruction of these factories whatsoever.”

A Gazan doctor reported how emergency service workers were routinely targeted by snipers and missiles from the Israeli military:

One ambulance worker was shot in the head and bled to death while fellow workers were told if they tried to assist him, they would be killed too.”

According to evidence from Mohammed Omer, an award-winning Palestinian Journalist based in Gaza, the Israeli army:

routinely defecate in Palestinian homes and buildings they occupy, leaving behind racist and violent graffiti. The Imam in Gaza was held for days by Israeli troops, who ordered him at gunpoint to use the mosque’s tannoy to call on the community to come to the mosque. As young people gathered, they were surrounded by Israeli troops, stripped naked at gunpoint and tortured or killed for sport.”

The Brussels Tribunal is calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate and reminds all states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip.

For the full findings of the Tribunal, download this at Russell Tribunal on Palestine (PDF) and for other online reportage, visit Scriptonite Daily.

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