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Palestinians Push for War Crimes Inquiry

Posted on Feb 11, 2009
Israel Soldiers Shells

Israeli soldiers ready white phosphorus artillery shells for firing during the assault on Gaza. Use of the incendiary shells in civilian areas is banned under the Geneva Convention.

On the heels of Israel’s election and its bloody three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority is pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate the possibility of war crimes committed by Israeli commanders.

The New York Times:

The Palestinian Authority is pressing the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate accusations of war crimes committed by Israeli commanders during the recent war in Gaza.

The Palestinian minister of justice, Ali Kashan, first raised the issue during a visit to the court’s chief prosecutor late last month, and he and other officials are due back again in The Hague this week, court officials said.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor, had initially said he lacked the legal basis to examine the case. But since the Palestinian Authority signed a commitment on Jan. 22 recognizing the court’s authority, the prosecutor has appeared more open to studying the Palestinian claim.

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By Roger, February 15, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of GOD. Matthew 5:9         [and this is a condition ]

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By cyrena, February 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

By Leefeller, February 14 at 6:04 pm #
•  “War crimes only work if the enforcer carries a bigger stick then the accused.”
Very true Leefeller, very true. In this case, the ‘enforcer’ is theoretically the International Body, and it is they who ‘make the rules’ that so terribly annoy you. It’s also true that specifically in terms of Israel, the ‘enforcer’ carries an ineffective stick, because that stick has been undermined by the current ‘victors’ to whom the spoils always go. And so, thanks to that political undermining by the more powerful against the weak, these laws have been largely ineffective in dealing with the abuses of Israel. That’s the reality.

It doesn’t change the purpose of the structure, and it doesn’t mean that this legal structure has been entirely ineffective either. Like I said, people and nations will and do violate these laws all of the time, even when they know the potential outcome. It’s a matter of deciding whether the punishment for the violation is worth their ultimate ends. In the case of Israel, there’s never been a reason for them to even weigh such ‘risks’ since they’ve yet to be called on them.

Anyway, the rules of the road that you and I are required to respect have no resemblance to a “Monopoly” game, and I think most of us know that to be the case with the laws that govern relations between nations. The reason you’re not supposed to plow through a red light is because of the potential damage you could cause to the life and/or limb of yourself or others, NOT so that we can exchange Kumbyas with all of the other motorists on the road.
And, if either of us DO that, (plow through a red light and take the life of another person as a result) we are HIGHLY LIKELY to be accused and then punished for such an offense.

Indeed, ‘accusations’ are pretty worthless without the enforcement, but the accusations obviously are the first step in applying any enforcement. Indeed, the accusations against Israel will be meaningless without the rest of the process, and the investigation of the EVIDENCE against Israel must be included in the process. Far as I can tell, that evidence is available in abundance. In fact, such evidence is even more abundantly and conveniently available than whatever those camera’s provided when they caught us running that red light. There are 60 years worth of documents on Israel’s abuses, so it should be a simple enough matter to follow these formal accusations with the evidence required for the rest of the process.

If such a process is successful in eliminating or reducing the destruction of a huge population of human beings, then that’s close enough to ‘peace’ for the parties involved, and overall ‘close enough for government work’. They don’t have to sleep with each other, to have peace.

Meantime, there’s little practical resemblance between fly swatters and starvation blockades or white phosphorus applied directly to civilians for the purpose of their destruction.

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By Leefeller, February 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

War crimes only work if the enforcer carries a bigger stick then the accused.  Accusations mean little with out proof and enforcement.  Some believe Bush and Chaney committed war crimes, but it was Saddam Hussein who was hung,  only the victor calls the shots. Maybe after the Palestine victory over Israel, will the concept of war crimes come to be.  Right now it is only pissing into the wind.  When someone is rooting for one side, they will cry foul any chance they can, especially if they are getting trounced, So much for objectivity. 

ITw on an other thread mentioned abuses throughout history, from the American Indians to Viet Nam and many between,  abuses, excessive abuses down right genocide, when does abuse become a war crime? I suggest it is relative to the mood, perception and attitude of those making the decision to prosecute or not, 

War is not a board game like Monopoly with rules and order. If peace is not the goal, than so be it. Actually flaunting war crimes, may lessen the concept of peace, now that peace is a small part of the equation, it means much less to those who prefer peace to war. Rules in war? 

If flies could talk, I believe they would accuse the aggressor of ye old fly swatter a war criminal. Now lets set up rules of engagement and size limit of the fly swatter one side wants to allow only the use of an ice pick, the other a shot gun.  Who defines the rules?

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By cyrena, February 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

By Leefeller, February 13 at 6:49 am #

•  “Assuming peace will come from accusations of war crimes,  is most uncomfortably naive.”


The process/procedures of prosecuting war crimes has never been predicated on an “assumption” of acquiring peace, though there is a tangential link to that as an outcome, dependent on what one describes as ‘peace’. (another too loosely used word.)

There’s actually a far more pragmatic and realistic purpose behind the Geneva Conventions, War Law, and International Humanitarian Law, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained it as well as anybody.

•  “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

For the most part Leefeller, that’s really all we hope to gain from any laws and the punishment of violations of the laws. In it’s very simplistic form, International Law attempts to put some restrictions on the types of carnage that occurs to civilian populations in wars between states and territories. It’s based on a very simple concept of reciprocity; i.e. all parties agree in advance of any potential wars that may break out, (since humans have been warring since the beginning of time) that they will refrain from certain acts, like torturing the “enemies’” soldiers when they are captured, or targeting a civilian population with chemical weapons. The ‘understanding’ is that ‘we agree not to do this to you, and you agree not to do this to us’.

Still, sometimes the only thing that prevents a person or Nation from violating those agreements anyway, is when there is some form of ‘punishment’ for doing so, which means holding the criminals accountable for their crimes, and making sure that the rest of the world sees that ‘yes’, these are the results of violating the laws that protect us from each other.

The very tragic irony is that these ‘laws’ (Conventions, Treaties, Universal Agreements) were developed as a result of the atrocities of WWII, and SPECIFICALLY the genocide of Jews and others (though the ‘others’ are rarely mentioned) under the Nazi and Stalinist Regimes. It has been noted that Hitler referenced the Armenian Genocide as proof that his own thug regime would NOT suffer any consequences for the mass slaughter of millions. In other words, he was sure he could ‘get away’ with it, because there had been no repercussions for the massacre of all those Armenians. And, he DID ‘get away with it’ as did the Stalinist regime that operated their own camps and gulags throughout Eastern Europe at the time.

From that came the cry of “Never Again” and the Geneva Conventions were born as a way to prevent such mass slaughters of so many civilians in conditions of war, and to prevent and punish the occurrences of Genocides.

This obviously doesn’t guarantee ‘peace’ but attempts to set up a legal framework that can protect the weaker nations and populations from the excesses of the stronger ones.

It’s equally obvious that in the case of Israel, it hasn’t worked, because there have never been any legal repercussions or other punishments for their violations.

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By nefertiti, February 14, 2009 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

Very Unlikely . the Lobby is way too strong and powerful.  Deir Yassin was not investigated , Kafr qassem was not investigated , nor was jenin , or qana 1 or qana 2 and other massacres for the last 60 years . it wont happen .there is no justice .

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By Folktruther, February 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

The effort appears to be a public relations attempt to rehabilitate the PLO, now a widely recognized puppet of the Israelis.  that is why Obama called Abbis FIRST before officially calling the Israelis, to bolster his publich relations image.

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By Leefeller, February 13, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Assuming peace will come from accusations of war crimes,  is most uncomfortably naive.

Which war crimes would you prefer or suggest? Submit you list.  Usually only the winners get to decide.  Winning usually means what?  Folks, lets get real here, war is not a game with rules decided on by you or me. Pick your pet war, our watch the Superbowl, the results will be the same. 

War Crimes decided on will be political and just as the deciders want it to be, another big chicken dance for the power players to mock reality.

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By cyrena, February 13, 2009 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

Dihey writes:

“Even his evasive answer was somewhat of a lie. Of course the CIA knows that Israel has nuclear weapons and of course the CIA has informed the new President of the USA that Israel has nuclear weapons.”

So Dihey, exactly what WAS his ‘evasive’ answer? If you’re gonna call him a liar for the ‘evasive answer’ shouldn’t you say what the ‘evasive answer’ was? I mean, you articulated Helen’s question in quotes, and came up with a detailed revision of the question that you were probably hyperventilating in desire to ask him yourself, like any well trained attack dog steeped in that section of the country where you reside.

And do you REALLY think it took the CIA to tell President Obama that Israel has nuclear weapons? I think NOT! He might be young, and I know it’s been such an agonizingly long era of a total ignoramus for a so called ‘leader’, but hell, even the total ignoramus was well aware of that. Then again, maybe not.

But yeah, the rest of the world knows Israel has nukes, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Obama knows it as well, and didn’t need the CIA to tell him.

You’ve gotta be kidding about impeaching him…but that is always so revealing. Do you INTEND to be so revealing, or are you a boozer? You remind me so much of an old guy I used to work with. Originally from Kentucky.

Ya’ll just can’t get over it.

Meantime, yep…Obama was definitely evasive. On that much I would have to agree.

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

Alas that any Palestinian entity, even the irrelevant so-called Palestinian Authority, headed by the sell-out Mahmoud Abbas, is trying to get redress for the mass murder against innocent civilians; children, women and men, knowing quite well that its efforts will be in vain!

It’s the ultimate irony that only the oppressed and victimized still believes in the poetic justice of the Hague Court. The so-called Palestinian minister of justice, Ali Kashan, must not have read Voltaire’s ironic statement when he said:

“All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sounds of trumpets.”

Such has been the murders committed by both the US and Israel and for long time and that’s why they will never get punished.

To my disillusioned Palestinian brethren I would say:

“Forget about wasting your time and energy with the Hague court, and continue your armed struggle by all means possible, for this is the the only possible way that might deliver you a measure of justice!”

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By dihey, February 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

The question which Helen Thomas asked at Mr. Obama’s first public press conference and Obama’s evasive answer show that he is courting to become a partner in Israel’s war crimes just like all previous presidents who have allowed “foreign aid” to be disbursed and weapons to be sold to Israel in violation of US law.

Unfortunately Helen’s question was gauche. She asked “Mr. President do you know a Middle Eastern country that has nuclear weapons”? She should have asked “Mr President do you have credible evidence that Israel possesses nuclear weapons obtained by importing nuclear technology”? In order to maintain “support” for Israel Mr. Obama would have to lie by saying “no” or “I am not aware that they have nuclear weapons”.

Even his evasive answer was somewhat of a lie. Of course the CIA knows that Israel has nuclear weapons and of course the CIA has informed the new President of the USA that Israel has nuclear weapons.

When the next batch of money or weapons is sent to Israel and Israel has not yet joined the NPT Mr. Obama violates US law and should be impeached.

The US law in questioin is known as the Glenn/Symington amendment:

In the mid-1970s, the US Congress became concerned about increasing evidence of international nuclear trade in dangerous technologies associated with producing nuclear weapon materials. In an attempt to dampen such activity, in 1976 and 1977, Congress enacted the Glenn/Symington amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. This provided that countries importing or exporting such dangerous technologies under certain conditions would be cut off from US economic and military assistance. This law was universal in its application and was not directed specifically toward Pakistan.

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By cyrena, February 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

I missed Jimmy Carter on Democracy Now yesterday, but I did see him on Rachel Maddow’s show. He has a plan, and he’s the only one that’s ever been able to do something like this before.

It sounds like a plan to me.

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By cyrena, February 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

richard east,

Richard East,I read of this myself yesterday, and had planned to post this link from truthout, and never got to it. Thanks for the link to the democracy now piece as well.

Cross posted piece from

Speaking of International Law, (specifically genocide) and the real politick of geopolitics.

Sudan Retains Clout While Charges Loom
Monday 09 February 2009

by: Colum Lynch, The Washington Post

  As global court weighs Darfur case, leaders continue to engage Bashir.

  United Nations - In the coming weeks, judges from the International Criminal Court will decide whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide and other war crimes in a military campaign that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Darfur since 2003. But Bashir’s government is hardly being treated like an international pariah.

  African Union leaders last week backed Sudan’s appeal to have the warrant suspended, with some portraying the court as unfairly targeting African states. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Bashir in Ethiopia last week and sought his assurances that international peacekeepers and aid workers would not be attacked if charges were filed.

  Even the Obama administration, which has vowed to increase pressure on Khartoum to stem the bloodshed in Darfur, has reached out to Sudan. Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, invited Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, on Wednesday to a reception for senior African diplomats at her official residence at the Waldorf-Astoria. She also has scheduled a meeting with the Sudanese envoy this week.

  Indeed, Sudan’s diplomatic standing has hardly been diminished by the allegations. Last month, an influential bloc of developing nations known as the Group of 77 and China selected Sudan as its chairman for 2009. That post will make Khartoum the developing world’s champion in negotiations with the West on a broad variety of issues, including climate change, the U.N. budget and the global financial crisis.

  Sudan’s U.N. envoy said that both the United States and the United Nations realize they cannot afford to shun Khartoum, which hosts two major U.N. peacekeeping operations, possesses massive oil reserves and now has a new role as a U.N. power broker.

  “They can never do without us,” Mohamad said. “Our diplomatic standing is always on the rise. Whenever others unjustly try to corner us, we emerge victorious.”

  “It’s a strange reality,” Rice said in an interview, citing Sudan’s diplomatic clout here. “As the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, I’m going to meet with the ambassador of Sudan in his capacity as head of the G-77. I’m going to do it because it’s in our interest. But more broadly, this administration is not reflexively averse to talking to countries or people with whom we disagree. We don’t view talking as a reward . . . but as a means to serve a larger policy goal.”

  But Rice added that the diplomatic outreach to Sudan should not be seen as wavering on Darfur. “We are going to be very strong and energetic in an effort to deal effectively with this ongoing genocide and to make it very clear that the behavior of the government of Sudan is simply unacceptable and something we condemn,” she said. “There is no ambiguity or gray in that. ”

Then this is just another one from yesterday’s IHT

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By Leefeller, February 12, 2009 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

War not peace, demands nothing scrupulous, so we have the usual feast of war, an unscrupulous game of tic, tac, toe.  Rules in war are ridiculous, except for the arm chair pundits, who never participate and would change their song and dance if they did, for peace would become an immediate option.

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By richard east, February 12, 2009 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

The ICC has reportedly decided to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, becoming the first sitting head of state to be charged by the Hague for war crimes. The official decision is expected to be announced in two weeks. (I read this on this morning).

Perhaps this will get the ball rolling, or open the door (as cyrena suggested), for further investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip (or…dare I say it…Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield’s crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq).

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By geronimo, February 12, 2009 at 12:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our Government’s Support Of Israel Puts Us All At Risk


“Israel’s massacres of Palestinians and Lebonese is what stokes the fear and hate that underlies the messianic terrorist movements in the Mideast and elsewhere.”

“What about individuals and organizations that emplore our government to support Israel?”

“Likewise, they put us and our country at risk.”

“Which makes them?”


“And those of us who oppose them as well as our government’s support of Israel?”


“Based on?”

“Patriots support their country all the time and their government when it deserves it*.”

*Mark Twain

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By cyrena, February 12, 2009 at 12:16 am Link to this comment

I just got a prompt that Brewerstroupe had posted to this thread, but there’s no comment from him. What’s up with that?

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By brewerstroupe, February 12, 2009 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

If what Gershon Baskin says is true, the entire Operation Cast Lead is a War Crime - a premeditated attack on a captive populace without cause. This is from the Jerusalem Post:

Our talks led to his agreement to get the approval of the Hamas leadership for this proposal. We concluded our talks with a note handwritten by him on the new proposed framework. We agreed that I would approach the Israeli leadership, and he would get the approval of the Hamas leadership. We further agreed that both of us would be directly involved in the talks along with others who would be appointed by the leaders on both sides.

I returned to Israel and 10 days before the war broke out I wrote to Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that Hamas was willing to open a direct secret back channel for a package deal that would include the renewal of the cease-fire, the ending of the economic siege and the prisoner exchange for the release of Schalit. I further indicated that Hamas would be willing to implement the agreement on Rafah which included the stationing of Palestinian Authority personnel loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in Rafah and a return of the European monitors. I communicated the same message to Noam Schalit and asked him to make sure that Ofer Dekel, who is charged with the Schalit file by the government, received the Hamas “offer.”

I waited for a response from one of the people who received my letter.

Nothing. No response. When the war broke out I understood that the decision to go to war had already been taken and that the government preferred to teach Hamas a lesson rather than negotiate a new cease-fire and the release of Schalit. I understood that the leaders believed that they could bring about a regime change in Gaza, even if this was not the stated goal of the war. Why would we negotiate with Hamas if we expected to bring about the fall of Hamas?

OVER THE PAST DAYS the media has been filled with reports that there is a new breakthrough in the talks for the release of Schalit: “Hamas is willing to link the end of the economic siege with the release of Schalit.” When I read this I said to myself - enough lies and spins.

Read the rest here:

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By cyrena, February 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

I get the cynicism of having the PA dude initiate this. The hypocrisy isn’t lost on me.

HOWEVER, keep in mind (cynics all - including the more moderate version like me…who prefer ‘skeptical’ to cynical…very huge difference)


For inquiry at least. We should WELCOME such a comprehensive and impartial inquiry/investigation into Israel’s War Crimes, and let that expose the so-called crimes of Hamas as well.

Now that would be an absolute FIRST in the history of this conflict, (actually exposing these crimes in such an inquiry) and I see Israel doing absolutely everything to avoid that, just as they’ve always done.

Be that as it may, if the World Community comes up with an opinion, then the rest of the World Community, (Including the US) is gonna have to honor it.

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By wildflower, February 11, 2009 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment

Good. The use of banned weapons on civilians can never be justified, and there appears to be little doubt that the Israelis used such weapons in Gaza:

“. . . Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who worked in Gaza’s main Shifa hospital during the first weeks of the conflict, and who spoke to media in Egypt and Norway in recent days, is the main source for allegations of DIME [Dense Inert Metal Explosives] use.

“This is a new generation of very powerful small explosive that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 meters,” he told reporters. “There is a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons.”

Al Jazeera, which has reporters in Gaza, has described hospital cases that appear to conform to the clean tearing of limbs that DIME can cause.

Italian scientists from the New Weapons Research Committee, which examines emerging military technology, said in a statement that “evidence is mounting” of DIME usage, saying the wounds may be “untreatable” due to metals like tungsten that enter the body. DIME is packed with tungsten dust that forms micro-shrapnel upon detonation.

Paola Manduca, a geneticist at the University of Genoa, says she has seen “four photos from Gaza hospitals since December that look like the effects of DIME. We want to stress as professionals that we need to be able to verify what is happening, and we can’t do that if Gaza is blocked.”

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By roger, February 11, 2009 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

but last of all he sent unto them his son, saying they will reverence my son. but when the husbandmen saw the son,they said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him , and let us seize on his inheritance Matthew 21:37-41

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By P. T., February 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

Abbas backed Zionist war crimes.  Now he wants them investigated.  Talk about chutzpah!

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

The following article gives a a gloomy picture about the tragic situation in Palestine, thanks to Israeli siege and terrorism aided by American taxpayers money and cheer leading!
Digging For The Truth
By Sameh A. Habeeb & Janet Zimmerman

South of the Gaza Strip, a very strange phenomena is taking place. People are racing time, using primitive ways to get food and achieve a good life. The people in the Gaza Strip, the most densely populated area in the world, are forced to face death in order to attain life’s basic necessities. This is against all humanitarian laws, and the rights of these laws were stripped from the Gazans by Israel. Border crossings were closed as a tightened siege was imposed two years ago…

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By Ed Harges, February 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is supposed to the the “good guys” - the people with whom Israel pretends it would love to make peace, if only Hamas had not won the Palestinian elections (never mind that when the PA was in charge, Israel did everything it could to sabotage any possibility of peace).

So now the PA is showing this lack of appreciation for Israel’s scrupulously “moral” assault on Gaza, in which every possible measure was taken to avoid unnecessary harm to Palestinian civilians? How could this be? Why isn’t the PA grateful for Israel’s favor?

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