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Friday, August 19, 2005


Gaza: Putting a Spin on War Crimes

Brothers Bassam Mousa Tawafsha, 25, and Usama Mousa Tawafsha, were killed by colonist Asher Weisgan on Wednesday, August 17. Al-Haq's investigation shows, "Muhammad Hasan Mausour, 53, from Kufr Qalil, near Nablus, was critically wounded and later died from his injuries. The fourth passenger, Rawhi Muhammad Kassab, 44, was unhurt. Kassab exited the vehicle and began to chase Weissgan who was running towards the workshop, weapon in hand. Weissgan again shot at Kassab when the latter called upon him to stop, forcing Kassab to escape in fear for his life. Weissgan then continued to the aluminium workshop where he shot and killed a fifth Palestinian worker, Khalil Walwil, 40, from Qalqiliya. He then ran back to the entrance of the settlement where he jumped into a waiting settler security jeep before it drove away. The circumstances strongly suggest that the attack was planned in advance and can accurately be described as premeditated murder." Although a Red Crescent Ambulance arrived immediately, it was not permitted to approach the wounded.

Although Mahmud Abbas is continually called upon to reign in militant Palestinian resistance groups, how many times has he called upon Sharon to abide by international law which stipulates in Article 43 of the Hague Regulations that an Ocupying Power is responsible for the safety of the occupied population?

Safety for the occupied population is not even on Israel's agenda. Diana Buttu, a PA advisor has released the following statistics: "Throughout the 38-year military occupation more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army.. An estimated 8,500 Palestinians are currently imprisoned in Israeli jails. Approximately 20 percent of the Palestinian population, has, at some point been imprisoned by Israel. In the past 4 years alone, Israel has destroyed the homes of more than 16,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

These times have produced a United Nations Secretary General who praises war criminal Ariel Sharon as "courageous," despite Israel's violations of scores of UN resolutions, one of which, 242, compels Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967. Instead of speaking plainly, instead of using his position to see to it that International Law, which Israel violated by moving its citizens to occupied territories, instead of using his position to see to it that Israel protects the people of the occupied territories as International Law also compels, Kofi Annan releases a statement that indicates that Sharon is to be lauded for putting a tiny fraction of his criminal activities on the backburner.

Rami Khouri wrote today in Lebanon's Daily Star that she was sad "that so few voices in Israel or among Jewish communities around the world would come out and say in clear terms that Israel is leaving because occupation is illegal, morally wrong, and politically counterproductive."

Sharon, of course, is motivated by racism. Rid of the 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, he is "maximizing land" for Jews and "minimizing" Palestinians in the West Bank. According to Khouri, "[Israel] represent[s] the last, lingering link to a form of 19th century European colonialism that is now universally seen to be based on the racist principle that white Europeans could steal the lands of any other people in the world, because the darker natives in southern lands had lesser rights as human beings."

Palestinians will continue to be victims of this anachronism unless leaders like Annan take a principled stand and journalists stop spinning war criminals as sympathetic victims and abusers as abused.

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