Pakistan

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Israeli State Sponsored Terrorism

“I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon …the destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people. These have not been surgical strikes … and it's very difficult … to understand the kind of military tactics that have been used.” Does it sounds like a statement by an al-Qaida sympathizer? No! Not really, these are the words of British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells. Israel is responsible for state sponsored terrorism in Lebanon and Palestine. Destruction of the infrastructure and killing of civilians is used as a collective punishment. There is an endless spate of war crimes by Israel in this region. USA and its allies have directly or indirectly encouraged Israel to punish its neighbors. On the other hand, United Nations has once again proved that it is an impotent institution so far as Muslims are concerned. This conflict has wider implications for the world and it has the potential to destabilize the Middle East and Muslim countries.

The underlying reason of this conflict was the victory of Hamas in Palestinian general elections in January 2006. The flawed policies of the USA and its allies have caused this conflict to flare up because they do not want to accept the democratic verdict of Palestinian people and they want to impose their own will on them. They declared Hamas a terrorist organizations but a majority of Palestinians rejected that and voted for Hamas. It was pretty obvious that the USA and its allies would be unwilling to digest the victory of Hamas and they would do their best to destroy it. Israel as usual, kept on killing Palestinians and in one incident it killed seven people including children partying on Gaza beach. This caused further escalation of the existing conflict and Hamas started firing rockets into Israel in retaliation to unprovoked attacks by Israel on civilians. Later on, Hamas captured one Israeli soldier on 25 June and Israel responded with ground invasion of Gaza.

The conflict escalated further, when Israel responded disproportionately to the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to put it very mildly. Israel is certainly guilty of collective punishment by its continued destruction of civilian infrastructure. It has informed United Nations that its objectives are far-reaching than the release of its two captured soldiers. Its main objective is to destroy Hezbollah. The Israeli action has strengthened the support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and across the region according to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s briefing to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East.

Hundreds of civilians have died or wounded due to Israeli attacks about one third of the victims are children. Most of the civilian infrastructure in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon has been destroyed. Israel has also imposed air and sea blockage of Lebanon resulting in total collapse of its economy.

Since, the start of the war Israel has destroyed bridges, highways, water supplies and power stations. More than one million Palestinians are living without electricity for most of the day and night due to destruction of power station by Israel. Civilians are unable to escape due to damage to highways and bridges.

On the other hand Israelis are dropping leaflets warning civilians to evacuate parts of southern Lebanon. So far Israelis have refused to allow a safe passages to civilians trying to escape. Many people who were trying to escape came under attack and died as a result. Some of the escapees are seen to be waving white flags to evade unwarranted Israeli attacks. There are more than 500,000 people who are displaced due to current conflict. This has created a dire situation for aid agencies to deal with looming humanitarian crisis.

Furthermore, hundreds of thousand of foreigners are caught in this conflict and their respective governments are trying to evacuate them as soon as possible. For example there are 40,000 Canadians, 30,000 Philippines, 25,000 Australians, 25,000 Americans, 22,000 British and 20,000 French citizens who are displaced. Some of the Western countries negotiated a safe passage with Israel to evacuate their citizens to the safety. Most of these foreigners ended up in Cyprus and they are causing enormous burden on its limited infrastructure. Cyprus is facing an uphill battle to cater for these refugees. Foreigners from developing and poor countries are unable to escape due to the lack of resources of their respective governments.

There is an acute shortage of food, medicine and other important supplies. Many trucks carrying medicine and food came under Israeli attack. Once again they are refusing to give a safe passage for humanitarian supplies such as medicine and food. The excuse used by them is that these trucks are carrying weapons. One of the trucks was attacked but no weapons were found. It was carrying food for people displaced due to the conflict.

Hospitals are also facing difficulties to treat injured people. Most of the hospitals are running out of supplies due to an overwhelming number of people to be treated. On the other hand hospitals cannot procure supplies due to attacks by Israelis on trucks and overall damage to the transport infrastructure. This is causing more problems for the hospitals.

This systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure has attracted condemnation from all quarters of the world except from the USA and its client states such as Australia. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his briefing to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, in New York on 20 July said, “Israeli operations have made it impossible for UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to reach almost any part of southern Lebanon, even to assess the needs, let alone to deliver the actual assistance needed.” He further demanded that, “hostilities must stop. But, while they continue, it is imperative to establish safe corridors for humanitarian workers and relief supplies to reach the civilian population.”

Meanwhile, US President George Bush is too busy in rubbing the neck and shoulders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She appeared to be displeased by this unwelcome sexual advancement by Bush during the G-8 summit. He was likely to be charged with sexual harassment if he happened to be in an office. Leaving this aside, American administration is showing criminal negligence on the issue of Israeli war crimes in Palestine and Lebanon.

Bush was caught on the microphone using offensive language while discussing the issue of Middle East with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush said, “The irony is, what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over.” He has given a go ahead for an all out offensive against Palestine and Lebanon. He said, “the world must confront the root causes of the current instability [in the Middle East]. And the root cause of that current instability is terrorism and terrorist attacks on a democratic country … in order to be able to deal with this crisis, the world must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria and to continue to work to isolate Iran.”

Furthermore, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has constantly refused to call for a ceasefire in the beginning of the conflict. She echoed the rhetoric of Bush and said, “the Israelis are, I think, trying to defend themselves … there is a responsibility of Israelis to defend their people. I don't think you can ask any less of any state.” She further added, “if violence ends on the basis of somehow Hezbollah or Hamas continuing to hold in their hands the capabilities anytime they wish to start launching rockets again into Israel … if violence ends on the basis of Syria and Iran being able to turn on the key again anytime, we will have achieved very, very little.” It is very clear that she wants Israel to continue its attack in Lebanon and Palestine and cause as much destruction as possible.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is behaving like Bush’s poodle. Blair has refused to rein in Israel for its war crimes. On the other hand former British International Development Secretary Clare Short condemned Tony Blair's stance on the Middle East. "We had a debate and most of those who spoke said that they thought Israel's response was disproportionate, that Britain should criticize, that there was a question of war crimes, that there should be a call for an immediate ceasefire," she said.

One of the most stern warning was issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour who expressed grave concerns over the killing and maiming of the civilians in Lebanon and Palestine. "International humanitarian law is clear on the supreme obligation to protect civilians during hostilities", the High Commissioner said. "This obligation is also expressed in international criminal law, which defines war crimes and crimes against humanity", she added.

She said, "International law demands accountability. The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control”. She also demanded the unrestricted and secure passage for humanitarian aid and access for humanitarian workers.

Israeli state sponsored terrorism and war crimes in Lebanon and Palestine have strengthened the support for Hezbollah and Hamas in the region. It has also strengthened their resolve to put up a stiff resistance against the Israeli aggression. This may also strengthen other radical groups in the Islamic world. Moreover, artificial division created by the West between Shia and Suni Muslims is starting to disappear due to this conflict. This is the most significant outcome for the Muslims as a consequence of the Israeli war crimes. On the other hand this conflict has offered another chance to the USA and its allies to implement a long lasting peace in the Middle East. If they failed to do so then the consequences would be far reaching beyond their expectations.

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