FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Striking with Impunity

As part of its ongoing brutal military occupation and collective punishment of the Palestinian people, Israel invaded the refugee camp al-Bureij, in the Gaza Strip, in the early morning hours of Friday, December 6. The avowed goal of the invasion, dubbed “Real Games,” was to arrest or kill Aiman Shasniyeh and destroy his family’s house–a brazen violation of international law and a callous act of inhumanity. Shasniyeh is accused by Israel of daring to fight for the right of his people to live in freedom. In March, he allegedly took part in an attack on an Israeli tank in which three soldiers were killed. However, even if Shasniyeh is responsible for this act, it in no way justifies Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate response.

According to eyewitnesses, between 40-50 Israeli tanks, with aerial support from U.S.-provided AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships, entered the hapless refugee camp and surrounded the Shasniyeh home. There, an unexpectedly pitched battle ensued with local Hamas members who were armed with rifles, grenades, and anti-tank shells. Israeli tanks and helicopters shelled and fired missiles on a densely populated area of the refugee camp, destroying the Shasniyeh home and others along with it. Hassan Safi, who witnessed the attack, told Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper: “I ran, together with my son, to the destroyed house and extricated two people. The helicopters fired on us and it was almost impossible to evacuate the injured.”

Although many of the details of this lopsided battle remain murky, some facts are clear. When an army fires tank shells and missiles into an over-crowded refugee camp, it is likely to inflict a heavy toll on the people who reside there. Ten Palestinians died in this invasion, six of whom were apparently Hamas fighters, and four of whom were apparently civilians, including two employees of the UN. Twenty Palestinians were injured as well, including five from the Mansour family whose home was struck directly by a tank shell.

What is also clear is that Israel again used U.S. weapons to injure and kill Palestinian civilians and destroy their homes. Unfortunately, many Americans are completely unaware that their tax dollars are being spent to fund these brutalities. If they were aware, then maybe Israel would not have the leeway it needs to commit these war crimes.

Many Americans also are unaware that the use of U.S. weapons in this manner violates a morally compelling law called the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. According to this act, countries can use U.S. weapons for the very limited purposes of “legitimate self-defense” or “internal security” and certainly can never employ them against civilian populations. Only a sophist could argue that an offensive Israeli attack on Palestinian civilians in a refugee camp could constitute self-defense or fall under the rubric of internal security.

No country is entitled to a carte blanche to violate the law, whether it is domestic or international. If Israel’s use of U.S. weapons violates our laws, then it would logically follow that the United States should enforce the Arms Export Control Act and refuse to provide Israel with more weapons until it stops using them to attack civilians and thereby implicate the United States in the commission of war crimes. Yet, instead of stanching the flow of death machines to the Israeli military, the Bush Administration is reportedly considering favorably an Israeli request to provide it with an additional $4 billion of military assistance!

This ludicrous and tragic U.S. policy was highlighted by the State Department just hours after Israel’s murderous attack on al-Bureij. In his daily press briefing, a reporter asked spokesperson Richard Boucher if Israel would suffer any consequences for using U.S. weapons in this manner. Here is Boucher’s escape artist response to which Harry Houdini would have shown great reverence: “We have made our policy quite clear. We have made quite clear the violence has to stop. There’s no way to get to peace, there’s no way to get a Palestinian state, if the violence and terrorism continue. And we’ve repeatedly called on the Palestinians to do everything they can to stop the violence, and yet, despite this, we’ve seen bombings and terrorism continue.”

When the State Department has the audacity to blame the victim and calls on Palestinians to halt Israel’s violence, this is a sure-fire sign of a morally bankrupt policy. But just because the State Department cannot conceive of any consequences of Israel’s use of U.S. weapons against Palestinian refugees, this does not mean that they do not exist. How many more Twin Towers need to fall before we realize that there are indeed consequences of the action (or inaction) that our democratically elected government takes in our name?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” How much longer will it take for Americans of good conscience to hold our elected representatives accountable to our laws and ensure that Israel doesn’t kill anymore Palestinians in our name?

JOSH RUEBNER is co-founder of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (JPPI) and a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service (CRS). He can be reached: jruebner@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:

November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail