Israel has been committing war crimes in Palestine for 60 years. Ethnic cleansing, massacres, evictions, illegal occupation and colonisation of land, denial of human rights and basic facilities to occupied people, illegal seizure and destruction of houses, crops and property, collective punishment of the entire population ... the list goes on and on, and has been well documented ever since 1948.
In recent months, Israel has clamped down still further on supplies of medicine, food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there. These crimes against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli state are not new, but mounting awareness has led to the increasing inability of Israel’s imperialist protectors in the US, Britain and the EU to shield the country from international criticism and to come up with a rhetoric that satisfies their populations.
Despite Israel banning journalists from Gaza during its most recent bloody assault there, film footage has emerged documenting war crimes, including the use of armed drones against unarmed civilians, the use of young boys as human shields by the Israeli army, and the deliberate targeting of medical personnel, ambulances, clinics and hospitals, as well as water and food supplies, schools and UN buildings. UN Human Rights Council member Richard Falk described the assault on Gaza as a “war crime of the greatest magnitude”.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz has printed admissions by Israeli soldiers that they had knowingly killed unarmed civilians, including women and children. Israeli pressure group Breaking the Silence says there has been systemic perpetration of war crimes by the IDF: “We are not talking about some units being more aggressive than others, but underlying policy.”
One military reservist told the New York Times that his unit was told to “Shoot and don’t worry about the consequences ... We will cry about it later.” Returning soldiers even bought t-shirts celebrating the killing of women and children; one shirt showed a pregnant woman with a bull’s-eye on her belly, and the slogan, “1 shot, 2 kills”.
Israeli lies and isolation
In the face of this mounting evidence, the majority of Israelis have simply gone into collective denial. Official spokespeople continue to assert that their army is the ‘most moral in the world’, and that those criticising it are ‘supporters of terrorism’ and ‘anti-semitic’, while the jewish electorate has recently elected a government of even more openly fascistic politicians than it had before, having acquiesced in the forcible suppression of all Arab political parties during the proceedings.
Israel claimed to have gone to war to stop ‘Hamas’ from firing Qassam rockets into ‘southern Israel’ (in reality, illegally occupied and ethnically cleansed Palestinian territory). Actually, it went to war to try to oust the democratically-elected government and undermine support for the latter in Gaza (having already effected a similar regime change in the West Bank).
Israel and its imperialist backers (including Britain) want to see a Palestinian administration that is willing to squash the struggle for an independent Palestine and that will accept a Palestinian ‘state’ composed of disconnected Bantustans whose borders are controlled by Israel.
Yet despite killing more than 1,400 people, more than half of whom were civilians, and 430 of whom were children, Israel achieved nothing during its latest attack except the strengthening of the Palestinian resistance, the further legitimising of Palestine’s elected government, and the almost complete isolation of itself.
Dirty tricks will not save Israel’s reputation
In a bid to try to save some shred of credibility for Israel, the zionists’ imperialist backers have made concerted attacks upon solidarity movements in the West.
In January, the BBC raised a storm of outrage when it refused to air the Disaster Emergency Committee’s video appeal for the bombed out civilians of Gaza.
And when the Viva Palestina aid convoy set off from Britain, the state’s response was to seize trucks and people trying to join the convoy in a much-publicised ‘anti-terror’ raid. Following this high-profile operation, donations to the convoy dropped by 80 percent. Smear job done, those arrested were later released without charge.
And, after delivering aid and messages of solidarity to Gaza, the leaders of the convoy continue to be attacked by those most complicit with Israel’s crimes. Secretary of state Hazel Blears wrote to the Muslim Council of Britain demanding the resignation of Dr Daud Abdullah, while George Galloway was barred from entering Canada to address meetings there.
These dirty tricks, however, will not succeed in providing a fig leaf for the criminal Israeli state. All they will do is to further expose the complicity of the US, Canadian and British ruling classes in the ongoing slaughter of the Palestinian people.
No cooperation with war crimes
Let British workers take inspiration from the Viva Palestina convoy, from the decommissioners who sabotaged the war effort at Raytheon in Derry and EDO MBM in Brighton, and from the students whose occupations have succeeded in breaking links between their universities and Israeli corporations.
Collectively, we do have the power to stop the Israeli war machine, which is funded and armed by Washington and Westminster. If we refuse to make or move the munitions, to cooperate with the zionist state in any way, or to put out the propaganda that excuses, endorses or in any way justifies its war crimes, Israel will soon be isolated and defeated.
Not only do we have the power to stop Israeli war crimes, we have the responsibility to do so if we are not to become complicit in these crimes.
As Marx once wrote, “The nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains. ” The British working class must do everything within its power to support the cause of Palestinian liberation.