Justifying Israeli War Crimes

By Reem Salahi

Having left Gaza now, I am trying to come to terms with what I saw, what I heard and honestly, what I don’t think I will ever understand – the justification. While Israel’s recent offensive has been the most egregious of any historical attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza, it is just that, one of many. Gaza has been under Israeli bombardment and sanctions for many years. Prior to the Israeli pullout in 2005, Gaza was under the complete control and occupation of Israel. Nearly 8000 Israeli settlers occupied 40% of Gaza while the 1.5 million Palestinians occupied the remaining 60%. Settlements were located on the most fertile lands and along Gaza’s beautiful coastal regions and checkpoints prevented Palestinian mobility. Despite being one-fifth the size of Rhode Island, 25 miles long by 4-7.5 miles wide, Gaza was divided into three sections and Palestinians had to pass through multiple checkpoints to get from one section to the next. Often Israeli forces would close these checkpoints and not allow the Palestinians access to the other regions in Gaza as a form of collective punishment.

Yet with Israel’s pullout in 2005, the Palestinian experience has not improved. Rather, it has become even more unpredictable and isolated. Palestinians who celebrated the exodus of the Israeli settlers and the return of their land could not have imagined what would follow and how Israel would subsequently unleash its brutal force against them. As the saying goes, nothing in life is free and the Palestinians have paid, and continue to pay, a dear and unforgivable price for Israel’s withdrawal from their legally rightful land.

Having been to both the West Bank and Gaza, I cannot begin to describe how different the two regions are despite their proximity. Unlike the West Bank, once inside Gaza, there is no fear of bumping into an Israeli soldier or waiting for hours at a checkpoint or having an Israeli soldier point an M-16 at your head while you show your identification card. Yet once inside Gaza, one is in constant fear and apprehension of what missile may fall from the skies or from the sea. The sound of apache helicopters and drones are a constant reminder that Gaza remains at the mercy of the Israeli military. After sunset, Gaza becomes a ghost town as Palestinians lock their doors and often sit without electricity, fearing to roam the streets. If a Palestinian is to be killed by an Israeli missile, he would rather be killed together with his family and not alone on the streets. Yet, as seen by the recent offensive, when Israel wishes to attack, it is not prevented from doing so by the time of day or by the location.

From the first moments of Israel’s military campaign on December 27, Israel’s indifference to civilian casualties was clear. Its first attacks started at around 11:30 AM, at a time when children leave the morning session of school and the afternoon students arrive. The streets were packed with civilians – children no less. Within moments, hundreds of Palestinians were killed and even more Palestinians were injured (at least 280 Palestinians were killed on the first day, and 700 wounded including more than a dozen policemen attending a graduation ceremony at the Gaza City police station). One of the little girls in Jabalia told me that she was in school when the attacks started. She fainted from the overwhelming fear and was not able to go home and see her family for days. When she did go home, she remembers seeing dead and injured bodies stranded all over street and hearing the thundering sound of missiles falling.

In its offensive, Israel attacked UNRWA warehouses, schools, mosques, civilian neighborhoods, businesses, factories, hospitals, universities and the media center. Its attacks took place during the day, night, during temporary ceasefires, and often without any notice or warning. I would ask the Palestinians I met who had lost loved ones in the recent incursion whether they were warned about an oncoming attack by some flyer or radio announcement. The majority would laugh at my question. “Why would I stay in my home if I knew that it was going to be attacked? Do you think I want to die? Do you think I would want to put my family and children in danger?” Most of the Palestinians had no notice that they were going to be attacked and bombarded until it was too late, and at that point, all they could do was stay in their homes, far from any window or door, and pray that their house would not be next.

Those, like Majid Fathi Abd al-Aziz al-Najjar, who were warned, tended to flee to “safer” areas. Majid and his wife and children resided in a border town in Khan Younis. Shortly after the start of its incursion, the Israeli military dropped flyers on his town, a copy of which he showed me. It said in Arabic that militants had entered your area and as a result we are forced to react and attack this area. Yet these flyers were only dropped in the center of town and Majid did not even realize that they were dropped until after the attacks on his way to see the rubble that used to be his home. Realizing that Israeli tanks were planning on entering Gaza and would destroy anything that would block their entry, Majid packed his family and fled to his relative’s home far from the border, in an area deemed safe. Yet at 10 PM on January 3, 2009, a white phosphorus missile strayed off course and rammed right into the home that Majid and his family had taken refuge in, along with 15-20 other Palestinians. The missile came through the roof and broke through the wall and hit Majid’s wife, Hanan Abd al-Ghani al-Najjar, dead center in her chest. She died immediately upon impact. Six or seven others, including Hanan’s elderly mother and Hanan and Majid’s daughter were severely injured by shrapnel and rushed to the hospital. Whereas Majid thought he had fled from certain death in his home on the border, death followed him to his place of refuge. Yet the sad reality is that no matter where Majid fled, no place in Gaza was safe. Hanan’s death was not the unpredictable result of a misguided missile, but rather the predictable consequence of a one-sided war waged by the fifth largest army against a population that is trapped within a prison and weakened by decades of occupation and years of blockade.

While Israel has perfected its many excuses in justifying innocent Palestinian death and destruction (“there were militants present…well we thought there were militants present” “we warned them but they did not to leave” “missiles were being fired from that [insert location here]” “we are investigating this attack” “it was an accident”), Israel has fallen short of providing actual evidence to substantiate killing people like Hanan Al-Najjar, Kassab Shurrab, Mahmoud Masharrawi, Sabha’s husband and the majority of others killed. After attacking the UN-operated al-Fakhura School in Jabalia on January 6, where many families had taken refuge and killing at least 40 innocent women and children and injuring dozens more, Israel made a rare attempt to actually justify its attacks. Not only did Israel use one of its staple excuses (“militants were firing from inside the school”), but it actually showed a video of militants firing mortars from the school. Within a matter of days, though, the video was dated to 2007 and till now, Israel has not provided us with another staple excuse of why, two years later, the al-Fakhura School was attacked and the hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed and injured.

But let us play devil’s advocate and agree that the majority of Israel’s attacks were completely reactionary and only consequent to Palestinian militant firing. Let us assume that Israel was justified in its attacks against al-Fakhura School, in its demolition of the American School, the best school in Gaza, in its destruction of the UNRWA warehouses which housed tons of humanitarian aid, in its shelling of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, in its obliteration of the Samouni home in Zeitoun where hundreds of family members had taken refuge after being directed to do so by the Israeli military, resulting in between 48 to 70 killed from the same family (I visited this area during the mass memorial for the Samouni family and it still reeks of rotting bodies and phosphorus), in its eradication of the Gaza City police station, in its shooting at UN cars clearly marked with the large blue UN letters and at ambulance drivers, in its destruction of the Islamic University in Gaza on December 28, in its bombing of the Gaza media building, in its…and the list goes on and on. Yet let us momentarily assume that Israel was the victim in all of this madness, as it claims it was, and that in fact the Palestinians are the ones to blame.

How then, does Israel explain the executions, the shooting of Palestinians point blank in cold blood? How does it justify Israeli soldiers shooting Kassab Shurrab with five bullets across the chest as he came out of his car with his hands to his side, especially as one of the Palestinian hostages sitting blindfolded by the soldiers heard the commander tell the soldier in Hebrew to shoot the civilians that were driving down the road. What about the two daughters of Khaled Abed Rabbo, Amal, age 2, and Suaad, age 7, murdered by an Israeli soldier using a semi automatic rifle before their father’s eyes as the other Israeli soldiers ate chips and chocolate? Let us not forget about Sameer Rashid Mohammad Mohammad, a 43 year old UNRWA worker, who was separated from his family by Israeli soldiers and taken to a separate room and shot in the chest? For four days after killing Sameer, Israeli soldiers held his family hostage and would make the family prepare the murdered Sameer food. Only when the Israeli soldiers left their home, did Sameer’s children see that their father was executed and by their father’s dead and bleeding body were piles of food. How about Farah al-Halo, 1.5 years of age, who was shot in the stomach when her family was forced to evacuate from their home at 6:30 PM by Israeli soldiers who assured them of their safety? Only 50 meters down the road they were shot at by other Israeli soldiers. Farah, with her intestines spilling from her stomach, died on the side of the road a few hours later as the same soldiers that had assured their safety watched.

Further, how can Israel explain its use of the Palestinians as human shields? Upon entering a village, Israeli soldiers would separate the men from the women. Sami Rashid Mohammad Mohammad, Sameer’s brother, was taken as a hostage and forced to accompany the Israeli soldiers for four days. He was handcuffed and blindfolded and made to walk in front of the Israeli tanks and soldiers as bullets would whiz by. At other times, he was made to sit on his knees in an open field for hours while Israeli soldiers would shoot from behind him and often at his feet. These Palestinians were nothing more than entertainment for the soldiers, a child’s play toy. When I asked Sami whether he saw any Palestinian militants during his time as a human shield, he laughed and said that he only saw Israeli soldiers with their blackened faces and camouflage outfits. “It was only Israeli soldiers shooting at each other,” he remarked. It is thus no wonder that between four to six Israeli soldiers were killed and 24 others injured in “friendly fire.”

Additionally, how can Israel explain the humiliation tactics it used against the Palestinians such as forcing Palestinian ambulance drivers to abandon their ambulance cars and drive donkey carts to pick up the dead and wounded as if to equate Palestinians with donkeys? The soldiers would grant the ambulance drivers half an hour to clear the area using donkey carts and threatened to shoot after half an hour. And what about the racist remarks painted on the walls of the Palestinian homes? One of my co-delegates took pictures of the Hebrew writings graffitied on the walls of some of the Palestinian homes we visited in Zeitoun and had a friend translate them. Among the things written were: “Death to Arabs” “War now between Arabs and Jews” “An Arab brave is an Arab in a grave” “Bad to the Arab=good for me” “He who dreams Givati [Israeli infantry brigade] does not expel Jews. He who dreams Givati kills Arabs!!!”

The reality is that Israel cannot explain or justify any of these things, nor does it even care to do so. When Israel’s staple excuses are not readily consumed or when it is examined under a critical lens, Israel applies another tactic– threat and demonization. Israel has created one of the strongest lobby organizations in the U.S., AIPAC, which actively demonizes any opponent or criticizer of the State of Israel. Due to John Ging’s, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), open opposition to Israel’s attacks in Gaza and his call for the investigation of Israeli attacks, he has been demonized and AIPAC recently introduced House Resolution 29 attacking UNRWA and alleging that it supports terrorists. Even I have received a few threatening emails upon the issuance of NLG’s Press Report which documented some of our legal findings. One of the emails indicated that I, along with the other attorneys, will have our careers followed. As the email stated, “Israel is smart not stupid, and will continue to do what they must as will America to survive even over the bodies of their leaders if necessary.”

Now that I have left Gaza, I wonder what it will take to depoliticize the situation in Gaza and for the Palestinians, and make it into a human rights and humanitarian issue. Before entering the Rafah Border, I spoke with one of the men from Amnesty International. He had waited at the crossing for three days and was still denied entry. In our conversation, I asked him what was the most difficult area he had visited. He told me that Palestine, and Gaza specifically, was the most politically difficult area to advocate on behalf of in his decades-long career as a human rights advocate.

Almost every Palestinian I met in Gaza believes that Israel’s recent attack will only be followed by another bloodier and more deadly attack on Gaza that will exterminate the Palestinians once and for all. Considering the history of attacks on Gaza, the level of atrocities recently committed in Gaza and the lack of international redress, I do not think that these statements are mere paranoia. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes in Gaza lest it commit larger and more egregious crimes in the future. As one who has been trained in the legal profession, I demand that Israel engage the legal arena and provide the international community with real evidence, and not just staple excuses and dated videos, that can justify every single civilian murder and the widespread destruction of Palestinian civil society. Until Israel is able to do so, the evidence in Gaza leads anyone willing to visit to the inevitable conclusion that Israel has committed war crimes. 

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3 Comments

Filed under A Witness to Gaza

3 responses to “Justifying Israeli War Crimes

  1. Hanan Amaira

    . This blog should be printed in every newspaper and magazine worldwide, so the world can know that a holocaust is taking place right now, the Palestinian holocaust. Yes a holocaust. What happened to the Jews decades ago is happening right now (and even worse) to the Palestinians. And the worse part about it, is that it’s being caused by the Israeli government. If Jews are saddened by their WWII holocaust, then they should not stand by and let the Israeli’s commit the same crime. The Palestinians DID NOT murder 6 million Jews, why do the Israeli’s have the right to murder them. If everything Reem wrote about and described in her journal was happening to the Israeli’s, there would be a world outcry. Close your eyes, and pretend that this is happening to you, or to your family and friends. What would you do? How would you react? I ask that you stand up for justice and for what’s right.

  2. Hi, I was one of the people in your audience who were not anti-Israel at Loyola Law School when you spoke. When I tried to speak when you ended the meeting I was cut off.

    I would like to start off by saying I respect your viewpoint. However, there are numerous flaws with your presentation and article above.

    First, in this article you mention that Israel bombed a UN school on the 6th of January. Although the UN and the UNRWA director of operations originally stated that Israel attacked the school killing 40. Now they admit this was a complete and utter lie.

    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2484349.htm

    Whats even more fascinating is that news that the shell never actually hit the school was published on January 29, and yet your article above states it was added here on February 18. I can only assume that you either have no idea what you are talking about and do not do proper research before writing these one-sided articles or you choose to disregard the truth.

    Another troubling thing was what you said during the presentation. You stated that 15 Palestinian medics were killed during cast lead. In fact, 9 of the 15 you speak of were Hamas operatives. See for yourself below.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1233304792018

    And in case you believe the IDF is not telling the truth, here’s some pictures of one of the “medics”.

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Anas%20Naim&cts=1237478086045&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    Also during your presentation you likened Hamas as just another political party, just like the Republicans or the Democrats. This is also misleading as Hamas is recognized as a terror organization in practically all of the West and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, no peace talks, and advocates the murder of Jews wherever they may be. Please see below if you do not believe me.

    http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

    You also explained that Israel broke the ceasefire by killing 6 Hamas operative. However, you failed to mention that they were digging a tunnel into Israel, which Israel claims was to be used to kidnap more Israeli soldiers. Although there is no way to prove what the intent of the tunnel was, you at least have a responsibility to reveal Israels stated motive.

    Furthermore, you stated that the Palestinians stopped shooting rockets into Israel, this is also totally false. According to the NY Times, eight rockets or mortars were fired into Israel in the first month of the truce. Again you failed to mention this.

    Lastly, your lack of discussion of rockets into Israeli population centers are appalling. Your article makes it seem as if the Israelis attacked Gaza for fun. Israel warned Hamas numerous times to stop shooting or they will be forced to attack, only to have Hamas ramp up the rockets.

    There have been 8,000 rockets fired into Israel since 2001. This is a war crime, yet you do not call for Hamas to be prosecuted. You as a resident of America, which was stolen from the Native Americans, and California which was taken from Mexico have no right to claim it is justifiable for Hamas to fire rockets into Israeli population centers because they are occupied. Israel has more of a right to exist than America and yet you would expect your government to protect you if a Mexican drug cartel was voted into the Mexican government and started shooting rockets at your family for 8 years.

    Moreover, one of the most disturbing part of your presentation was its conclusion. One of the last slides was titled, “Myth: Israel’s war on Gaza was defensive”. Instead of giving an argument or discussion of any kind, you merely ran a picture slide show of Gazans suffering with no context at all. Your presentation is hardly suited for a law school audience and merely tried to appeal to emotion.

    Lastly, you failed to mention the fact that Hamas hides behind women and children and operates out of mosques, hospitals and schools, if you do not believe me see below.

    You did not give me a chance to speak at the
    presentation and I needed to bring my concerns to your attention. I would love to have a civilized discussion without being cut off. Also, please in the future try not to use defunct and falsified events in your presentations and reports.

    -Robin Saghian

    PS. To the comment above me, according to human rights organizations, 6000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the intifada almost ten years ago. That number includes suicide bombers and gunmen. To liken that to a Holocaust where 6 million people were systematically murdered for no other reason other than their religion is ignorant and outrageous. The real holocaust of today is the murder of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Africans in Sudan at the hands of the Islamic regime who support the Arab Militias.

    In fact the ICC just charged the leader of Sudan and yet Hamas and Iran made statements in support of him.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29527268/

  3. reemos

    Robin,

    I was originally not planning on responding to your claims below as they are lack legal veracity. And while I doubt anything I say will actually make you question the propaganda that you have so well consumed, digested and currently espouse, I respond merely so that you know that I am neither silencing nor censoring you. It is ironic that when even the Israeli soldiers who were present in Gaza can question the legality and morality of their actions, you thousands of miles away remain so adamantly and disappointingly misinformed.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/world/middleeast/21gaza.html?_r=3&ref=world&pagewanted=all
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072475.html
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7952603.stm

    And on a personal level, after hearing first-hand testimonies of the Palestinians in Gaza and subsequently reading the testimonies of Israeli soldiers in nearly all the major media sources who merely corroborated what we heard, I find your comment very reactionary. But for what its worth, here is my response to your comment.

    One of the first things you learn (or should have learned) in law school is to look at the forest and not the trees. In your comment, you merely stab at the trees but forget the forest. When I spoke at your school, my message (the forest) was that Israel committed war crimes during its 22 day military offensive. It breached innumerable articles of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols under the guise of self defense. Over 1400 Palestinians were killed, 900 of which were civilians and over a third of which were children. Even in war, there are rules of engagement and when the most fundamental of those rules are breached, those who breached them can and should be prosecuted for committing “war crimes.” If Israel wanted to respond to Gaza militarily, then it should have abided by the legal principles of distinction and proportionality which it did not. Israel indiscriminately attacked towns and villages and soldiers shot at civilians, elderly women and children holding white flags (if you don’t believe me, read the soldiers’ testimonies). These, Robin, are war crimes.

    Yet in your comment you do not seem to discredit the basis of my talk that Israel committed war crimes. Rather you jab at the trees, the facts that I quote in my blog or a response I made to questions. Honestly even if you were correct in your assertions below (which you are not), Israel would still be guilty of committing war crimes.

    So let me respond point by point to your comments below. I have italicized what you wrote so that readers can differentiate my response to your allegations:

    Hi, I was one of the people in your audience who were not anti-Israel at Loyola Law School when you spoke. When I tried to speak when you ended the meeting I was cut off.
    I would like to start off by saying I respect your viewpoint. However, there are numerous flaws with your presentation and article above.

    Being critical of Israel and the Israeli military does not make one anti-Israel. I am very critical of US policies but proudly consider myself American. Just wanted to point that out in case you didn’t know.

    First, in this article you mention that Israel bombed a UN school on the 6th of January. Although the UN and the UNRWA director of operations originally stated that Israel attacked the school killing 40. Now they admit this was a complete and utter lie.
    http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2484349.htm
    Whats even more fascinating is that news that the shell never actually hit the school was published on January 29, and yet your article above states it was added here on February 18. I can only assume that you either have no idea what you are talking about and do not do proper research before writing these one-sided articles or you choose to disregard the truth.

    Well what is more fascinating is that even AFTER you did your research, you still got it wrong. No on has admitted it was a complete and utter lie. In fact if you had actually read the story that you yourself cite to, John Ging, states “There is no change in the reporting that we have done here about that tragic incident. The facts that we presented at the time are still the facts that we are presenting today, and there were many changes in the Israeli reactions and information put out by various spokespeople.” That does not sound like an admission of “a complete and utter lie.” I hope that you do a more careful job when reading and briefing cases for your classes.

    Forty-three Palestinians were killed in fact, the majority of which were women and children who had taken refuge in the Fakhura School in Jabaliya. The mortars landed right outside the school where approximately 400 Palestinians were taking refuge. Even though Israel had the coordinates of the school, they still bombed right next to the school, and those who were killed were the Palestinians who were immediately outside the school. Even if there were militants in the area, the doctrine of proportionality would prevent Israel from engaging in such an attack considering the high likelihood of civilian death and injury. Yet Israel has not provided any evidence for its attacks—only an outdated video. So I do not see the inconsistencies that you point to.

    Yet lets pretend that the Fakhura School was an accident. What about Israel’s bombing of the courtyard of the Asma School, another UNRWA school, and killing at least three members of one Palestinian family only 15 hours before shelling the Fakhura School? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1053455.html

    Another troubling thing was what you said during the presentation. You stated that 15 Palestinian medics were killed during cast lead. In fact, 9 of the 15 you speak of were Hamas operatives. See for yourself below.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1233304792018
    And in case you believe the IDF is not telling the truth, here’s some pictures of one of the “medics”.
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Anas%20Naim&cts=1237478086045&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    Hmmm…I don’t know Robin. J Post and google pics are definitely not sources that I personally turn to when trying to get “unbiased” news. And what exactly am I supposed to derive from the google images. This actually made me laugh. Don’t know if you noticed, but those pics were of different people.

    If you have ever been to Israel, which I have, and gone into a mall in Tel Aviv, which I did, you will see dozens upon dozens of Israeli teens dressed in military fatigues carrying M-16s. Does that make them Hamas operatives? Or maybe Al Qaeda? Or Mossad? How about you try a little harder with your sources next time.

    I met many many of the medics in Gaza while there and almost every one was shot at and the majority were injured. Thus 15 medics killed does not surprise me one bit. But in case you are interested, I wanted to share a video made by a Spanish national who was in Gaza during Israel’s military incursion. It shows medics trying to pick up a dead or injured body and being shot at. The one in the video, who I personally met, sustained a bullet wound in his leg. I also personally know almost every person in that video including the blond woman and a number of the medics. It is not something I pulled off of youtube.
    http://www.wipeoffthemap.com/erased_english.html

    Also during your presentation you likened Hamas as just another political party, just like the Republicans or the Democrats. This is also misleading as Hamas is recognized as a terror organization in practically all of the West and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, no peace talks, and advocates the murder of Jews wherever they may be. Please see below if you do not believe me.
    http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

    Thank you for providing evidence that Hamas is considered a terrorist organization…as if I had no idea and as if its not the number one mantra when justifying what Israel did in Gaza. Honestly Hamas is as much of a terrorist organization as are parties like Yisrael Beytenu in Israel. Yet despite the extremism of such parties, Avigdor Lieberman was instated in power in the recent elections. Don’t know how much you know about him but he is notoriously racist and has often called for the forced transfer of Arabs living in Israel and even called for the execution of Arab members of the Knesset. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=712521

    So since Lieberman is in power, does that justify Iran nuking Israel?!?

    And as far as Hamas being a terrorist organization because it refuses to engage in peace talks, last time I checked Hamas and Israel did agree to a ceasefire http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/world/middleeast/18mideast.html?hp which I will discuss below. And what Israeli state is Hamas expected to recognize. Even Israel hasn’t defined its borders. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-makdisi11mar11,0,2601983.story?coll=la-opinion-center

    You also explained that Israel broke the ceasefire by killing 6 Hamas operative. However, you failed to mention that they were digging a tunnel into Israel, which Israel claims was to be used to kidnap more Israeli soldiers. Although there is no way to prove what the intent of the tunnel was, you at least have a responsibility to reveal Israels stated motive.

    That is correct. Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4. Yet even during the ceasefire, Israel restricted the level of humanitarian aid rather than increasing the aid. That was one of the essential requirements of the ceasefire. Thus the number of the Palestinians who relied on aid increased from 60% to 80% during the ceasefire. I think you have a responsibility to talk about that! You want me to mention that Hamas was digging a tunnel into Israel, whose intent was unknown (as you aptly mention), rather than explaining that Israel actually bombed and killed six Hamas members during the ceasefire and starved 300,000 additional Palestinians during a time that it was supposed to be increasing aid rather than further restricting it?!? Umm…yeah ok.

    Furthermore, you stated that the Palestinians stopped shooting rockets into Israel, this is also totally false. According to the NY Times, eight rockets or mortars were fired into Israel in the first month of the truce. Again you failed to mention this.

    I actually never stated that Palestinian rocket fire stopped but that it diminished significantly. Check out this website from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/One+month+of+calm+in+Gaza+28-Jul-2008.htm stating that “During its first month, the lull arrangement resulted in a significant drop in rocket and mortar fire at Israel. A relative calm has settled over Sderot and Israeli population centers near the Gaza Strip, occasionally broken by rockets and mortar bombs fired by terrorist organizations which oppose the lull (mostly local Fatah networks, with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad violating the lull only on one occasion).”

    And the number continued to decrease reaching a low of one rocket and one mortar in October. http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=hsJPK0PIJpH&b=3587015&content_id={990CAC69-4588-4C10-AFF9-B47938568CEB}&notoc=1.

    Yet the reality is that neither the rocket fire during the ceasefire nor the tunnel were the reasons why Israel attacked. The Israeli military had been planning the attack for many months and even prior to the ceasefire.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=1050426

    Lastly, your lack of discussion of rockets into Israeli population centers are appalling. Your article makes it seem as if the Israelis attacked Gaza for fun. Israel warned Hamas numerous times to stop shooting or they will be forced to attack, only to have Hamas ramp up the rockets.
    There have been 8,000 rockets fired into Israel since 2001. This is a war crime, yet you do not call for Hamas to be prosecuted. You as a resident of America, which was stolen from the Native Americans, and California which was taken from Mexico have no right to claim it is justifiable for Hamas to fire rockets into Israeli population centers because they are occupied. Israel has more of a right to exist than America and yet you would expect your government to protect you if a Mexican drug cartel was voted into the Mexican government and started shooting rockets at your family for 8 years.

    Here it is very clear that you have memorized the diatribe very well, so well in fact that you forget what has and has not been said. I don’t recall making any claim that the Hamas rockets are justifiable. You should be careful how you regurgitate your propaganda so as to make it appropriate for different audiences based on the arguments that they may or may not make.

    And from the soldiers testimonials referenced above, it seems like a lot of what the soldiers did was for fun and was unnecessary aggression on their part.

    As for the 8000 rockets being war crimes, once you study international humanitarian law and learn what a war crime is lets talk about this assertion again, unless you would like to reference me to another jpost article…there are a lot of things that the rockets are, but one thing they are not is a war crime. One thing you forgot to mention is that from 2005 till the start of Operation Cast Lead, December 27, 2008, Israel killed 1, 250 Palestinians living in Gaza. Just a small oversight on your part I’m sure. http://www.humanrights-geneva.info/Gaza-Not-a-war-of-self-defense,4031

    I don’t understand why you are talking about Mexico now…last time I checked we were talking about Gaza. When the US occupies Mexico for over forty years and the Mexican drug cartels respond by shooting rockets at Los Angeles, CA, we can revisit this conversation…

    Moreover, one of the most disturbing part of your presentation was its conclusion. One of the last slides was titled, “Myth: Israel’s war on Gaza was defensive”. Instead of giving an argument or discussion of any kind, you merely ran a picture slide show of Gazans suffering with no context at all. Your presentation is hardly suited for a law school audience and merely tried to appeal to emotion.

    And your propaganda-based analysis is hardly suitable for a law student. But I really do apologize if your emotions were sparked and you felt a little bit of sympathy or sadness for the people of Gaza. I should be more careful next time.

    Lastly, you failed to mention the fact that Hamas hides behind women and children and operates out of mosques, hospitals and schools, if you do not believe me see below.

    Ah youtube…the beacon of truth! Yes when I went to Gaza, Hamas was hiding everywhere and they had three heads and five arms. By the way did you know that the “pentagon” of Israel is located in the middle of Tel Aviv…probably not the safest place for the women and children of Israel considering that Israel is surrounded by “enemies” and Tel Aviv is one of the most populated cities in Israel.

    You did not give me a chance to speak at the
    presentation and I needed to bring my concerns to your attention. I would love to have a civilized discussion without being cut off. Also, please in the future try not to use defunct and falsified events in your presentations and reports.
    -Robin Saghian

    Again, Robin, I did not cut you off and I let you and your friend ask two or more questions. Members of the audience actually cut you off. In this comment, you keep saying things that are quite false. But I did stay around after the presentation for nearly two hours talking to others in the audience so I would have welcomed you to come speak with me. You would have saved me a lot of time in writing this response if you had had enough guts to speak to me in person rather than post your heavily misinformed statement on my blog. Maybe then you would have realized that your assertions are not only false, but also highly irrelevant to the main question at hand: Had Israel committed war crimes?

    Anyways hope that was helpful.

    -r

    p.s. I will not respond to anymore of your posts. Spring break is coming soon…maybe you should consider going to Gaza yourself and seeing the situation on the ground. If and when you do let me know and we can talk. Maybe then you’ll realize that the pre-packaged arguments you and many others like you espouse are nothing more than simplified propaganda to try to justify the unjustifiable.

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