George Bush doesn’t really want a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Because if did, he wouldn’t be condoning Israel’s callous use of collective punishment in Gaza right now.
In the first 72 hours after Bush left the MidEast, Israel killed 37 Palestinians and injured more than 90, many of them civilians. Israel said these attacks were in response to crude rocket assaults from militants in Gaza, which injured two Israelis.
The rocketing of Siderot and other Israeli towns is immoral, indefensible, and against international law.
But with its disproportionate response, Israel is now engaging in collective punishment against all Palestinians in Gaza.
It closed the borders on January 18, so not even the UN humanitarian supplies could get in.
As a result, hospitals in Gaza are running out of medicine.
And now Israel has cut off electricity to Gaza, leaving an entire population literally in the dark.
Palestinians have no way of getting clean water or staying warm during cool nights or getting enough food or cooking oil for their children, or any fuel to get to and from work.
Collective punishment has long been against international law, and it violates the Geneva Conventions.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories called Israel’s actions “serious war crimes.”
Not Bush or Condoleezza Rice.
They didn’t utter an audible peep.
There was no silence among Israeli human rights groups, however. Six of them issued a joint call to “deplore the decision by the Israeli government to cut off vital supplies of electricity and fuel (and therefore water, since the pumps cannot work), as well as essential foodstuffs, medicines, and other humanitarian supplies to the civilian population of Gaza,” the statement said. “Such an action constitutes a clear and unequivocal crime against humanity.”
To get a sense of the crime scene, read the account of a Palestinian journalist who e-mailed a friend in the United States this weekend.
Here is what he said, in part:
“Where to start…, what to talk about…? The crippling electricity shortages, affecting hospitals as well as civilians? The air strikes & on-going, daily bombings by the Israeli army, their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and police stations…? Israel ’s non-accidental, enforced starvation of 1.5 million people by closing off ALL borders and not allowing in even UN aid, let alone basic medicinal, food, and construction needs…?
“… Or should I begin with the bomb which just hit a wedding close to the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City, with 15 apartment buildings within the bomb’s target range? One woman was killed and 47 others were injured –mostly children and women who had been inside their homes or playing on the street!! Scenes of children injured, bleeding and crying just moments after they had been enjoying a wedding celebration in a Gaza wedding hall…a horrific sight likely to go without mention of that in most news sources. . . . 19 Palestinians were killed in one day last Wednesday during another Israeli attack, this one targeting the eastern part of Gaza City. . . Their bodies, like so many others, were rendered into small pieces of flesh, scattered everywhere!
“The Israeli Ministry spokesman, Shlomo Dror says that: ‘It's unacceptable that people in Sderot are living in fear every day and people in the Gaza Strip are living life as usual.’
“And I wonder, what exactly does he consider ‘life as usual’? For if he means it is normal that over 35 civilians should be killed in 4 days, an entire population should be on the verge of starvation and should be forced to shiver through winter nights without electricity or sufficient blankets, that hospitals and medical centers should be forced to shut down or operate at sub-par capability and without needed medicine, food, blankets, and even space,…the list goes on…well then yes, we are living life as usual.”
This isn’t life as usual. It’s occupation as usual. And it’s impunity as usual.
Condoleezza Rice and George Bush may pay lip service to a peace accord but their silence, their acquiescence, their complicity proves that what they will leave in the Mideast is only more discord.
Photo by José M. Ruibérriz