Time for a little Maturity

The United Nations has recently released their hefty 574 page report on their investigation on Israel's military campaign in Gaza this past December/January. The full report which includes 188 interviews, more than 10,000 pages of documentation and 1,200 photographs will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council at the end of this month. While the report cites that war crimes were committed on both sides - Palestinian rockets fired into southern Israel purposely targeted Israel civilians and civilian structures - the bulk of the report however, is on the war crimes and possible crimes against humanity committed by Israel. This is not surprising given the military might of Israel and the death toll of the Gaza population. It is estimated that over 1,400 Gazans were killed, in comparison to the 3 Israeli civilians who were killed.

The report cites thirty-six incidents where war crimes and possible crimes against humanity were committed by the Israeli army. It is important to note that these incidents do not address decisions that were made in the heat of battle but are on the non-urgent broader policies that were adopted during the war by the Israeli military that were purposefully reckless. The report states that the Israeli operations "were carefully planned in all their phases as a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population."

The UN Human Rights team that researched and wrote the report consisted of four people and was led by highly respected South African Judge Richard Gladstone. Rich with professional accolades, Gladstone is the former chief prosecutor with the international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Fully aware that such charges have been brought against Israel in the past and have amounted to nothing, politically astute Gladstone has recommended that the UN Security council require Israel and the Gaza authorities to report in six months about their own investigations into these alleged crimes. If this request is ignored or completed superficially, then he suggests that the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague should become involved.

As it usually goes, it is not a big surprise that Israel has condemned this report, claiming it to be flawed and biased. At the Israeli Foreign Ministry, a diplomatic offensive is already being planned to block the referral of any Israeli commanders or officials to the ICC. Israel's blanket rejection of the report and their complete lack of cooperation in the initial research stages blatantly ignores that fact that human rights organizations around the world have condemned Israel of the same. Human Rights Watch claims that "Israel's repeated firing of white phosphorous shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes." Israeli human rights groups have also criticized their own military. Israeli troops themselves have admitted to abhorrent behavior. The testimony of soldiers, graduates of the Yitzhak pre-military preparatory course at Oranim College on February 13, 2009 is completely contrary to the Israeli Defense Forces'official statements. These soldiers admit that they were entitled to use unrestricted force against the Palestinians - killing, destroying, vandalizing. Shoot first they were told and worry about the consequences later.

Nevertheless, the Israeli government and its military will in perpetuity deny any wrong doing. And the infinitely strong Jewish lobby within the United States will ensure that the American government will come to Israel's defence at America's own detriment. And if there is a repeat of any global condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza and call for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to be held accountable, I have no doubt Israel will claim a global bias against the Jewish state, and cling to their belief of their perpetual state of victimhood. No, Israel apparently never seems to have any responsibility to examine their own actions and behaviors in arousing such frustrated reactions or global condemnations.

Israel in fact reminds me a few people I know. I am sure most people know someone like this. These are the people who constantly deplore their state in life, but blame everyone and everything for their plight. Nothing is ever their fault. They are merely a victim to the cruel ways of the world. These people may have alienated friends, family, collegues but they never look at their own actions to find the source of the problem. The problem is always with the other. The sad thing is, a little honest self introspection would go a long way in improving this person's plight in the world.... Just a thought.

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