Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Commentary on Uri Dromi's article in the Guardian

I thought I would take some time to post a commentary paragraph by paragraph of some of the lies that Israel's professional propagandists wheel out just after Israel has killed more people. Uri Dromi is writing an article for the Guardian and thoughtfully tells us why Israel had to kill all those people and that it regretted doing so, but it had no choice. Here is why I think he's talking absolute rubbish.

In the wake of the Israeli operation in Gaza, aimed at putting an end to years of Hamas harassment of the south of Israel, there are now media reports about the possible use by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) of white phosphorus and flechette shells. Now Amnesty International issues a report reiterating these claims.

This is not true, Hamas had been observing a ceasefire with the Zionist state, which was continuing its policy of assassination and destruction throughout. In addition, the Israeli state had maintained a two year seige on Gaza and continues to do so along with its Egyptian allies.

Some words about these weapons.

White phosphorous is a chemical substance dispersed in artillery shells, used primarily to conceal the movement of troops. It burns on contact with oxygen and creates a smokescreen to mask the military manoeuvre. Unfortunately, it may have a negative side effect: when it comes into contact with people, it causes severe burns.

Flechettes are an anti-personnel weapon designed to strike a large number of enemy men. Basically, they are tiny metal darts packed into120mm shells. These shells explode in mid-air and scatter many flechettes in a conical pattern over an area around 300 metres wide and 100 metres long.

As frightening as they sound, these weapons are not banned by international law. Therefore, when the Israeli army used them in Gaza, it did nothing unprecedented. Peter Herby, the head of the Red Cross's mines-arms unit, told the Associated Press: "In some of the strikes in Gaza, it's pretty clear that phosphorus was used." However, he added: "It's not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it's being used in any other way."

As for flechettes, whether we like it or not, they are standard weapons for most armies. Again, international law doesn't prohibit their use. Even so, the IDF established a commission of inquiry to investigate whether there were cases in which flechettes and white phosphorous were misused.

This is all true.

Amnesty International, however, didn't wait for any such investigation. Quick as ever to blame Israel, the organisation paid lip service to the launching of thousands of rockets by Hamas on Israel during the last years, aiming intentionally to kill innocent civilians. It hardly denounced them and then went on to conclude that it was Israel that had committed "war crimes".

Your army did kill over 1300 civilians, many of them children, over a period of over 30 days of sustained bombing in the most heavily populated area on the planet. A little perspective please.

Alas, war is a messy business. In urban areas, where the enemy is elusive and is using women and children as human shields, war is even messier. Remember Fallujah in Iraq, in 2004, when during Operation Phantom Fury US forces destroyed one out of every four dwellings of this 40,000-home city, killing 1,350 fighters and an undisclosed number of civilians. No one blamed the US for war crimes, and no one dared threaten to drag American generals to tribunals at The Hague. When it comes to Israel, however, double standards reign.

War is indeed a messy business, but you only say this when you kill Palestinian civilians, it doesn't seem to occur to you that since you are at war with the entire Palestinian people, some of your own civilians will get killed too. The same argument can and has been used that almost the entire Israeli civilian population is involved with the Zionist military establishment or industry which supports it, and since your country is on stolen Palestinian land, there are no cities or areas which are not embroiled in this war.

Does this man really think that anybody has forgotten what happened in Fallujah? He might as well have been an Italian fascist claiming precedence with the Luftwaffe and Guernica. Both of these countries will be held to account for what they have done, sooner or later. As for double standards in dealing with the United States and Israel, the phrase a pot calling a kettle black comes to mind.

Go explain to Amnesty, or to the world media, that Israel, in trying to hit Hamas operatives only, took extraordinary steps not to harm civilians. Millions of leaflets were scattered over Gaza, warning the locals to evacuate certain areas before they were attacked. Phone calls were made to specific residents to leave their homes, because Hamas terrorists operated from there and thus turned them into military targets (yes, read again: you call your enemy and you implore him to leave the area so he is not hurt). Last but not least, after exhausting all those warning measures, the IDF fired close to such homes and gave the residents enough time to leave them safely, before the houses were hit.

This is rubbish, Hamas has been warning the Israelis and the settlers not to occupy Palestinian land for years. It has also warned that any attempt at expansion of settlements, or invasion of Gaza, will be met with retaliation. Needless to say, the Israeli settlements have continued growing, Israelis have continued living on Palestinian land and the Israeli army launched a massive invasion attempt into the Gaza strip. No resistance group in the world would even bother giving an invading army an ultimatum before striking it and yet the Israelis time and again think that they can reside in Palestine with impunity and then have the temerity to complain that they are coming under rocket attack from the people whose land they stole. This is double standards to the extreme if ever there was any.

No other army in the world goes to such lengths to try not to hurt civilians. Yet once a military operation is launched, and especially in a heavily populated area such as Gaza, things happen. Was there a disproportionate use of force? The IDF is checking it. Was there misuse of white phosphorous or flechettes? Again, Israel, as a vibrant democracy, is investigating the matter thoroughly. In the meantime, foreign journalists who entered Gaza when the operation was over reported that the initial stories about the damage were grossly exaggerated.

The same holds true for Hamas attempts to dislodge both the Israeli army and Israeli settlers from their land. It is admirable how serious the self titled Israeli "Defense" Forces take any allegations of disproportionate force or the use of phosphorous and flechettes. I am assured that Hamas has also heard of the allegations made against it and will leave no stone unturned in their investigation of what happened, since they too are part of a vibrant democracy and were elected by the Palestinian people in free and transparent elections. Other foreign journalists who entered Gaza when the operation said that initial stories about the damage were grossly minimised but what is your point exactly?

Last but not least, the Israeli use of force must be put in context. Only after exhausting its patience vis-a-vis an onslaught of Qassam rockets did Israel decide to use its military power, in the most justifiable act of self-defence. If there is one commodity in short supply among the Hamas leaders, it is accountability. Hamas brought on the people of Gaza the wrath of the IDF – white phosphorous and flechettes included. Now its supporters are pointing fingers at Israel.

The Israeli use of force took place after it forced a seige on the people of Gaza for two years, during which time it continued to fire missiles into the territory in spite of Hamas adhering to a ceasefire. In terms of accountability, one thing these people are not in short supply of is that. They are of the people of Gaza themselves and are not some foreign body within the civilian population. It is the leadership, their colleagues, neighbours and very own families who are at the front line. Entire families have been wiped out in missile strikes, the very own families of these Hamas men he speaks of. Let us stop fooling ourselves that Hamas have brought this on the people of Gaza, they are the people of Gaza and they were elected by the people of Gaza.

1 comment:

Lirun said...

boring analysis