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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Israel is guilty of war crimes against the oppressed

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Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and Dr Aayesha Soni

After my recent publication in Independent Media highlighting the political situation in Israel, my head of department received an anonymous letter. The person claimed that my views are “not only extremely disrespectful, but very polarising and not conducive to good workplace interactions”.

My boss was implored to “address this appropriately”. Bar the fact that anonymous complaints are cowardly, I had only shared the truth and facts. This inspired us to focus on the history, context, and human rights aspects of the current conflict because, once educated, it’s difficult to justify support for anybody other than the oppressed.

Zionism, the current political ideology that governs Israel, lays its claim to the land of Palestine on the basis of ancient biblical history. Theodore Herzl, often regarded as the father of Zionism, was not a religious person and began his movement with a nationalist doctrine. For Israel to exist, Palestinians originally had 54% of their land seized and given to Jewish Zionists, who made up less than 7% of the then-population—an absurd occupation of land by any standards. Confirming this, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 in 1975, which “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism.”

Over the years, Zionist Israel has broken more than 80 UN resolutions—more than any other country in UN history. They have also been found guilty of “crimes against humanity” perpetrated against the Palestinian people, according to the United Nations Charter.

The concept of a crime against humanity goes back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals. It will always be ironic that a nation that has suffered so much themselves is able to forget so easily and perpetuate similar crimes and atrocities against others – those who do not learn from history are undoubtedly destined to be doomed by it.

A particular incident this week aroused a very uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu about one of these war crimes. In the Dahmash Mosque on July 11, 1948, Palestinian civilians were told by Israeli soldiers that they should proceed to the mosque, as they would be safe there. Instead, 80,100 Palestinians were murdered while inside, where their bodies lay decomposing for 10 days in the mid-summer heat. This week too, we have received video evidence and eyewitness reports that Palestinians were advised by Israel to move southerly in Gaza, being promised that it would be safer. On the very same day of the instruction, a convoy of civilians following this command was targeted, and 70 people, mostly women and children, were instantly murdered.

The Gaza Strip is a piece of land 41 km long and 6–12 km wide. It has a population of 2.3 million people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. This piece of land is also the world’s largest open-air prison, having been under complete siege by land, air, and sea since 2007. This was when Hamas were democratically elected into power, displeasing Israeli authorities. Gift of the Givers, as part of its humanitarian goals and efforts, has a team on the ground and has actively supported Gaza since 2009.

The Israelis have systematically and directly targeted hospitals, schools, civilian apartments, water plants, ambulances, and aid convoys, even using white phosphorous earlier this week and in the previous 2014 war, banned under international law. They have cut off water, electricity, internet, food, fuel, and medical supplies to the civilian population—all confirmed by team members of the Gift of the Givers.

The team members are describing the situation on the ground as a massacre, and it has been confirmed that no less than 10 hospitals have been targeted, with four left inoperable. The displacement of hundreds of thousands has reached unprecedented levels, and funding has been actively raised to provide warm meals, offer temporary accommodation, buy consumables, fund fuel for ambulances, and provide general humanitarian needs to the civilian population.

Israel has routinely carried out full-scale bombings of the Gaza strip, most notably in 2008/09 and 2014, where the world watched silently in horror as Israel broke every ceasefire and used the full force of their military on an imprisoned, large civilian population. While the current numbers of people murdered in Gaza have reached over 4,000, the majority of whom are women and children, the most alarming aspect is how common family massacres have become, and it is not unheard of for entire family names to have been annihilated in single attacks.

Such a blatant display of collective punishment is in direct contravention of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. While these human rights contraventions have always been verified by independent news sources and human rights groups, the same cannot be said about Israeli propaganda lies. The most recent heinous claim that Hamas is guilty of beheading 40 Israeli babies has been unsubstantiated with any evidence, yet it remains the most flagrantly flaunted headline in mainstream media for the past week.

Over the past seven decades, Palestinians have continuously tried to deploy non-violent forms of opposition. This has only been met with violent crackdowns by Israel and harsher restrictions on their everyday lives. Hamas, under international rule, has the right to armed resistance as an occupied people, and yet they have been vilified in the mainstream media by the Israeli propaganda machine and Zionist lobby for doing so. The al-Qassam brigades have released a multitude of videos illustrating their restraint in dealing with Israeli civilians, yet misleading stories continue to occupy most of the media space.

The situation in the Middle East has always been emotive, with strong views held on both extremes of the spectrum. However, the truth of the large-scale humanitarian catastrophe that has been meted out against the Palestinian population in all areas of life can no longer be ignored. People will not accept being grossly violated every day without a reaction of self-determination in response—that is what Hamas is leading today. With the same cowardice that the person who wrote an anonymous letter to my boss used as an attempt at silencing an opinion, we witness the same degree of cowardice employed by the Israeli Defence Force, its allies, and Zionist settlers in trying to squash the legitimate Palestinian resistance of 75 years.

*Dr Sooliman is a medical doctor and founder of the Gift of the Givers association. Dr Soni is a specialist neurologist in the public healthcare sector and a member of the Media Review Network.

**The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or

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