Since 1975
  • facebook
  • twitter

Will anyone have the courage to sanction Israel?

An Israeli soldier writes on a mortar in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Dec. 20, 2023. (AP Photo)
An Israeli soldier writes on a mortar in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Dec. 20, 2023. (AP Photo)
Short Url:
21 Dec 2023 01:12:04 GMT9
21 Dec 2023 01:12:04 GMT9

Anyone observing the results of the war on Gaza can see that Israel has adopted brutal and indiscriminate policies that reflect exactly what the Israeli commanders wanted.

In fact, those in the Israeli political sector set the tone for the unimaginable brutality whenever they spoke. The dehumanizing rhetoric began with an Israeli army spokesperson publicly admitting that its airstrikes were “focused on maximum damage.” That was followed by the most harrowing statement of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said that Israel was “fighting human animals.” Then, so-called moderate President Isaac Herzog said all 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza were combatants, not civilians, because they did not revolt against Hamas.

All levels of the Israeli political map made similar statements, including a Cabinet minister suggesting dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza — the first time that Israel has admitted what the world has known for decades: that it has a military nuclear program.

But despite the rhetoric and horrific results on the ground, Israel’s defenders, first among them the Americans, were still saying that Israel does not intentionally kill civilians.

Then the killing of three Israeli soldiers who had escaped from their captors occurred last week. Since the victims in this case were Israelis, the Israeli army admitted that they were fatally shot even though they had their hands in the air and were holding a white flag. The Israeli army has not investigated — and it is unlikely to in the future — the 20,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza and it last year refused US pressure to investigate the killing of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Nevertheless, the Israeli army, under pressure from its public, held an initial investigation into this incident and came out with an important conclusion: The soldiers who shot at surrendering individuals violated the Israeli army’s standing orders.

No one believed that this was the case for 70 days, while Israel was shelling innocent civilians without even expressing remorse or admitting that maybe some were killed by accident. This leads all of us to believe that the killing of civilians and the destruction of hospitals, churches, mosques, schools and bakeries was done on purpose and on the orders of the very top military and political leaders. Proof. No one has yet been held responsible for the massacre.

But if the incident with the surrendering Israeli soldiers being killed because they were thought to be Palestinians was a turning point, the very next day the killing continued.

This time, two women who had taken refuge in a Catholic church in Gaza were shot dead by a sniper. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem called the killings an assassination and Pope Francis mentioned the two Palestinian Christian women in his weekly Sunday homily. Media reports state that the Vatican has been in constant touch with the White House, whose resident, President Joe Biden, is a devout Catholic. Reports from Gaza now hint at a slight easing of the danger, as the people in the area surrounding the church have been told they can move around until 4 p.m. each day.

Regardless of what happened to the Israeli soldiers and the women at the church, there is now publicly documented proof that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza. The continuation of the war and Washington’s refusal to allow the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire are contributing directly to this human catastrophe. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has explicitly stated that the gap between Israeli leaders’ promises of avoiding harm to civilians and their actions on the ground is huge. This is diplomatic talk for saying that the Israelis have lied to their American patrons.

International law has become a laughing stock and America has been exposed for its double standards.

Daoud Kuttab

Yet, despite the killing of civilians and the lying, the Americans are reportedly giving Israel until the end of the year to wind down their intensive attacks. This is unacceptable. The so-called leaders of the free world, who have clearly discarded any adherence to basic human rights and humanity, are giving the lying Israelis two more weeks to continue violating international law and their own standing orders when it comes to how they deal with Palestinians.

International law has become a laughing stock and America, which proclaims that it adheres to its human rights responsibilities, has been exposed for its double standards. Israel is not only committing war crimes and crimes against Palestinian humanity, it is also violating its own standing orders.

What started out as dehumanizing rhetoric is ending as a clear case of genocide. Will anyone have the courage to sanction such a state and force it to adhere to the basic principles set out in the Genocide Convention, which Israel and its neighboring countries have signed?

  • Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian journalist, is a director of Community Media Network. X: @daoudkuttab
Most Popular

return to top