Where’s the Accountability for Israeli War Crimes?

by AUDREY BOMSE and JAMES MARC LEAS

Gaza City.

The Palestinian Authority would be “traitors” if they agreed to a condition the UK is seeking to impose in exchange for agreeing to  support Palestine upgrading its membership in the UN. So said Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) at a meeting with lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in Gaza City today.

The condition is that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, pledge not to pursue Israeli government and military officials for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. An article in the Guardian yesterday describes the pressure on Abbas to agree to the condition. Sourani said the entire Palestinian public knows that the Palestinian Authority would condemn itself–and that PCHR would make such a public condemnation–if the PA accepted that condition.

The article, “Britain ready to back Palestinian statehood at UN–Mahmoud Abbas pledge not to pursue Israel for war crimes and resumption of peace talks are UK conditions, states, “Whitehall officials said the Palestinians were now being asked to refrain from applying for membership of the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice, which could both be used to pursue war crimes charges or other legal claims against Israel.”

The key problem Sourani sees facing Gaza and the West Bank is no accountability for Israeli war crimes. Israeli political and military leaders know that if a tribunal considers the facts and the applicable international law, the tribunal could rule that Israeli conduct is illegal. Thus, the strong efforts to keep out of tribunals and to continue Israel’s ability to engage in military assaults.

The condition that the UK government is seeking to impose on the Palestinian Authority would guarantee the continued impunity and immunity Israeli officials enjoy. The trauma for Palestinians would would be repeated every few years, said Sourani.

What is needed first is for international law to apply to territories ruled by Israel and for those violating international law to be subject to criminal prosecution, according to PCHR.

PCHR is documenting the facts about violations of human rights. All 1.8 million people in Gaza, including PCHR staff, Sourani said, were traumatized by what they lived through during the 8 days of bombing and in conducting the interviews to prepare files for court.

US lawyers Audrey Bomse and James Marc Leas are in Gaza along with a large number of internationals to help bring the human stories of the bombing of Gaza to a wider public. Israeli forces killed 163 people and wounded over 1200 during its 8-day campaign. They also destroyed many private homes and civilian infrastructure, including government buildings in violation of Israel’s responsibilities as occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. All this is happening at a time when the US is supplying many of the weapons used. The NLG calls for an end to US military aid to Israel until the Israeli government complies with international law.

Audrey Bomse and James Marc Leas are co-chairs of the NLG Free Palestine Subcommittee

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Jeralynn Bluford
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America