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Israeli Unaccountability

by Stephen Lendman

November 20, 2013

Previous articles provided extensive evidence. Occupation harshness gives no quarter. Israel gets away with murder and then some.

World leaders able to act do nothing. Israeli crimes go unpunished. Palestinian suffering persists. Besieged Gazans feel it most. Official Israeli policy is making Gaza scream. A humanitarian crisis persists.

Gisha's name means "access" and "approach." It's a Palestinian human rights organization. 

It uses legal aid and public advocacy on behalf of Palestinian rights. It supports the right of free movement. International law guarantees it. Israel prevents it.

On November 14, Gisha headlined "No cake in Gaza." Lack of power forced bakeries to cut operations. Sewage treatment deteriorated badly. "The price of a ton of cement (rose) from 380 NIS (new Israeli shekel) to 1,300 NIS.

On November 1, lack of fuel forced Gaza's power plant to cease operating. Outages persist up to 16 hours a day.

No agreement was reached with PA officials. Talks continue to supply sorely needed industrial diesel fuel.

Gaza gets all its electricity from Israel and Egypt. The strip operates 14 government hospitals and 54 medical clinics.

All wards use large generators. Departments like intensive care use smaller ones. They require constant electricity supply. Patients lives are at stake.

To save dwindling diesel supplies, wards not requiring constant electricity supply cut off power during outages. Generators operate for about eight hours. According to Gisha:

"Running them for longer periods of time may reduce their capacity, causing a drop in electricity supply." 

"This affects medical equipment such as dialysis machines, CT scanners, neonatal unit equipment and refrigerators used for storing drugs." 

"Continuous use of generators also affects their operation, causing more malfunctions and increased maintenance costs."

Gaza's tunnel economy supplied much of its needs under siege. Egypt's coup d'etat regime conspires with Israel.

Since mid-year, most tunnels were destroyed. Current "activity remains almost completely paralyzed," said Gisha.

Minimal amounts of diesel, construction materials, and other vital supplies get through.

Most available fuel goes to "government institutions, universities, hospitals and residential buildings."

Gazan bakeries get enough to bake bread. Prices so far are stable. Owners must adjust their operations to "the electricity supply schedule."

To make bread, they stopped baking cakes. Since August, Egyptian diesel costs rose 25%. It's much cheaper than Israeli supplies.

"Palestinian sources estimate that Gaza's diesel reserves have been exhausted, and that the shortage has led to an increase in the amount of fuel entering from Israel via Kerem Shalom Crossing."

Lack of power affects proper sewage treatment. Untreated amounts pollute offshore waters and beaches.

One-fourth of Gazans get fresh water only every fourth day. It's available for only six to eight hours at a time.

It's way short of what's needed. It's quality is dangerously poor. A coastal aquifer supplies about 90% of Gazan water.

It's threatened by toxic pollution. It's largely unsafe. Siege conditions makes life for 1.7 million Gazans intolerable.

On October 29, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) held a workshop on "Patients Struggling against Death in Gaza: The Case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Leukemia Patients."

They suffer from "severe complications." They risk death without vitally needed medications.

They're in short supply. Some aren't available. PA officials aren't helping. PCHR urged Abbas to instruct his health ministry to provide what's required "promptly and regularly."

Leukemia patients require Glivec medication. Shifa is Gaza's main hospital. Last December, its supply ran out.

Patients can't be treated properly. Doctors said lacking Glivec risks lives. It's up to Ramallah's health ministry to supply it. 

It largely hasn't done so for nearly a year. Failure to do so is unconscionable. Abbas doesn't care if Palestinians live or die.

In April, PCHR's Legal Aid Unit addressed Ramallah's health ministry. It demanded resumption of supplies.

The ministry's pharmacy department said they were available. It was preparing to send them.

Amounts received were woefully inadequate. Enough arrived to treat 27 patients for one month. Monthly Gaza needs are double the quantity supplied.

Gazan rheumatoid arthritis patients suffer for lack of medications. Enebrel is needed. It's not available.

According to doctors, lacking Enebril longterm risks serious liver and kidney problems.

Gaza's health ministry provides 480 types of medicines when available. Getting them is another matter entirely. 

Siege conditions are mainly to blame. Israel maintains them ruthlessly. Egypt's coup d'etat government is a willing co-conspirator. So are Abbas and other Palestinian Authority collaborators.

Yesh Din defends Palestinian human rights. It exposes Israeli abuses. It champions long denied accountability. It's new report is titled "Lacuna - war crimes in Israeli Law and Court-Martial Rulings."

Nuremberg chief prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson called aggression "the supreme international crime against peace."

International law considers them the most egregious. Israel's legal system includes no "legislation forbidding war crimes and setting corresponding punishments," said Yesh Din.

Israel signed and ratified all four Geneva Conventions. Fourth Geneva's Article 146 states the following:

"The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article."
"Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts." 

"It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a 'prima facie' case."

Universal jurisdiction (UJ) is a well-established principle. It holds that certain crimes are too serious to be ignored. They include crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.

Nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won't, can't, or hasn't for any reason. Israel used UJ to convict and execute Adolph Eichmann.

It's never been held accountable for its own egregious crimes. "A defective (Israeli) legal culture and the absence of legislation prevent the prosecution of soldiers for offenses considered war crimes," said Yesh Din.

Its new report addresses the issue. Israeli laws fall short. Its government claims otherwise. Yesh Din's report addressed international legislation criminalizing war crimes.

It discusses inadequate Israeli laws. Without them, war crimes go unpunished. Rarely are charges brought. At most, they're minor ones. Slap-on-the-wrist punishments follow.

They fail to address the gravity of serious crimes committed. Noncombatant civilians suffer most. Israel considers them legitimate targets.

Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. Fourth Geneva's Article 33 forbids it, stating:

"No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

Israel uses disproportionate force against defenseless civilians. It believes doing so strikes at the heart of an enemy's weakness.

Former Israeli Northern Command General Gabi Eisenkot once called residential areas "military bases."

Retired General Giora Eiland's combat strategy included destroying "the national infrastructure and inflicting intense suffering among the population."

Israel's Turkel Commission was appointed to whitewash the May 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre. Its members included former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel and retired General Amos Horev.

Two non-voting observers served with them - Northern Ireland unionist David Trimble and retired Canadian General Ken Warkin.

Turkel's report recommended enacting legislation pertaining to war crimes. It urged a new category to address them. 

Knesset members failed to act. It doesn't surprise. Extremists dominate the current body. It enacted numerous anti-democratic laws. It's considering others. 

Civil and human rights are compromised. Racist legislation targets non-Jews. Israeli Arab rights are gravely compromised. Occupied Palestinians have none at all.

Slow-motion genocide continues. Crimes of war and against humanity go unaddressed. They persist with disturbing regularity. Israel remains unaccountable. Long delayed justice is denied.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


:: Article nr. 102752 sent on 22-nov-2013 23:10 ECT


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