Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Barak Contemplates Collective Punishment

Via Ha'aretz:

Cabinet likely to back 'punishing' Gaza civilians over Qassams

By Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

Government sources believe most Security Cabinet members will support increasing financial pressure on the Gaza Strip during the cabinet's meeting in Jerusalem Wednesday, in response to the ongoing rocket fire at Israel.

Sderot parents, meanwhile, intend to demonstrate outside the Knesset building. Sources in the defense ministry said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israel Defense Forces Tuesday to examine the implications of temporarily cutting off the Strip from Israeli infrastructure, including electricity, fuel and the supply of basic commodities.

Barak ordered the defense establishment to examine "the operational and legal aspects of steps designed to limit Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip." Barak told the IDF he wanted to determine the degree to which Israel was obligated to provide services for the Strip.

The call to cut off water, electricity, gas and fuel to the Strip is seen as an alternative - or, if unsuccessful, a prelude - to a broad IDF incursion into northern Gaza. Government sources, however, said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was unlikely to authorize an escalation in Israel's military actions in the region.

It seems to me that there isn't much to "examine". Collective punishment of civilians in territories that your government occupies violates the Geneva Conventions. The inclusion of the issue of collective punishment came about as a response to the actions of the Nazis during WW2.

And, as if that wasn't ironic enough - the following statement actually made me gasp:

Earlier Tuesday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon - one of a growing number of cabinet ministers in favor of cutting off utilities to Gaza - said that Israel should attach a "price tag" to every rocket launched at Israel.

"We will set a price tag for every Qassam, in terms of cutting off infrastructures," Ramon told Army Radio. "Hamas will ... know this in advance. We will not continue to supply 'oxygen' in the form of electricity, fuel, and water while they are trying to murder our children."

The first thing that came to mind when I read that was the gassing of the Jews by the Nazis. The intended action certainly isn't the same but the sentiment is.

The oppressed have become the oppressors and if Israel's government has the equivalent of an Alberto Gonzales who manipulated a so-called legal defence for Bush to condone torture, no doubt the Israeli government can come up with some sort of justification to apply this type of collective punishment to the civilians in Gaza as well.

It really is something that Ramon would defend his belief in collective punishment by stating that he's concerned about the lives of Israeli children while the IDF continues to kill Palestinian children, refusing to cease military actions that clearly place those children in the sites of their weapons, while issuing half-hearted apologies. These killings are war crimes.

See also: Gaza: "The children killed in a war the world doesn't want to know about" and If Americans Knew

Meanwhile, the world does nothing - as usual. Or, in the case of the United States government - with support from both Republicans and Democrats, the Israeli government is getting even more money and arms to continue its illegal occupation while the victims have absolutely no voice.

Who speaks for the dead Palestinian children? And who will protect the civilians that Ramon and Barak want to punish for the actions of Hamas? And the bigger question always is, of course, how does any of this advance the peace process? Or does Israel's government even care about that anymore as it continues to apply failed military "solutions"?

Deciding to cut off essential services shows how desperately unwilling that government is to consider anything other than the concept of "might makes right". That hasn't worked. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results - made all the more brutal when children and other civilians become your publicly contemplated targets due to your own failures.

You'd think they would have learned that from their own peoples' history.

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