Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crimes against humanity

Oct.30, 2007

A case of crimes against humanity

THE ISRAELI move to tighten its siege on life in the Gaza Strip is as much politically motivated as it is security oriented as Israeli ministers claim. It is aimed at strengthening the isolation of the Hamas movement, which is in internal control of the Mediterranean coastal strip since mid-June, and pressuring the residents of Gaza to reject the Islamist movement as their political leaders.
More importantly, however, the decision to reduce fuel supplies and the intention to cut back on electricity have a deep humanitarian aspect in that it would deprive the Gazans of essential services and cripple the health sector.
Israeli ministers explain the move as their "only" option to pressure Gaza's Hamas rulers into halt near-daily rocket attacks by resistance groups against Israeli towns. The ministers stay away from mentioning the reality that the Palestinians are frustrated and angry over Israel's rejection of their legitimate political and territorial rights and the Jewish state's obvious determination to impose its will on them through military means. Their daily life is a nightmare, and the situation is not much different in the occupied West Bank either.
Their only option to keep the Israelis reminded of the illegality of their occupation of Palestinian lands is armed resistace as manifested in the rocket attacks that underline the theme that there would no security for Israelis as long as the Palestinians do not have security.
Obviously, Israel is hoping that the tightening of its siege of Gaza would increase the Gazans' frustration to a point where they would reject Hamas as their leaders. However, the Israeli leaders have not learnt from the experience elsewhere, particularly Iraq, where a majority of the people living through the international sanctions under the Saddam Hussein regime saw the US as their enemy. Indeed, the US solution to the problem was invasion and occupation, but that solution is not feasible for Israel in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas movement has defiantly declared that Gaza could survive any Israeli siege, but it is obvious that it would not be the case as the Israelis tighten their stranglehold on the territory.
Given the deadlock that pre-empts any immediate change in the Israel-Hamas equation, the international community is left with the option to insist that the Jewish state respect international conventions and charters. Although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to control Gaza land, sea and air corridors. As such, it is responsible under international law and conventions to ensure that the people living under its control are not deprived of the basic necessities to survive. If it fails to live up to this responsibility and obligation, then there should be no doubt in the international conscience, including Israel's staunchest backers, that the political and military leaders of the Jewish state qualify to be tried on charges of crimes against humanity.