Monday, April 4, 2016

Israeli military culture promotes war crimes

For decades, Israel has been committing war crimes but the big powers chose not to see those crimes of their rogue brother.

On March 24 two Palestinians – Abdel Fattah Al Sharif and Ramzi Qasrawi, both aged 21 – were shot during an attack on soldiers manning a checkpoint in the occupied city of Hebron in the West Bank.

Ten minutes later, the 19-year-old soldier at the centre of the investigation arrived. Qasrawi was dead and Al Sharif was lying in the road wounded. Other soldiers milled around, close by.

At that point, the soldier – who cannot be named because of a gag order – approached Al Sharif, aimed his gun at the young man’s head and pulled the trigger.

All of this was captured on video, as was a trail of blood that leaked from Al Sharif’s head seconds later.

"This was not a killing in the fog of war; it was a cold-blooded execution. As Amnesty International noted, such an act constitutes a war crime," writes Jonathan Cook.
The past six months has seen a wave of desperate attacks by Palestinians – mostly improvised, using knives and cars – to end the occupation. Some 190 Palestinians have been killed in this period. American politicians, too eager to condemn the Palestinian crime, have always paid a blind eye to the crimes of the Israeli settlers and soldiers that are at the heart of the problem. In a shocking proportion, Palestinians – including children – have been shot dead even when they posed no threat to Israeli soldiers or civilians. In military parlance, this is called “confirming the kill”.
Back in December Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, spoke out against the Israeli army’s trigger-happy attitude. She was lacerated by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and barred from entering Israel.

The Israeli public did not reach this conclusion by accident. They have been schooled in a tribal idea of justice from a young age. Palestinians are not viewed as fully human or deserving of rights.

That attitude has only intensified of late. Politicians from across the ideological spectrum have urged soldiers, police and armed settlers to kill any Palestinian who raises a hand against a Jew. The incitement has grown intense, and no one – from Netanyahu down – has spoken against it.

The few Israeli organisations trying to protect Palestinian rights have come under concerted assault.

Breaking the Silence, a group helping Israeli soldiers turn whistle-blowers, was recently accused by the defence minister of “treason”. Israel is busy bullying and silencing the messengers, whether foreign diplomats or its own soldiers.

Rabbis too are contributing to the mood music of this war dance.

As supporters feted the Hebron soldier as a hero, one of the country’s two highest religious authorities, Yitzhak Yosef, the Sephardic chief rabbi, ruled that Israel’s non-Jews – some 2 million Palestinian citizens – should either agree to become servants to Jews or face expulsion to Saudi Arabia.

Two weeks earlier he told soldiers they were under a religious obligation to kill anyone who attacked them.
To read Mr. Cook's article, please, click here.

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