Gaza - both sides of the coin...

I don't have much faith in leaders of countries nowadays.  My particular journey has taught me not to believe in their empty promises.  Most war is based on greed; somebody wants someone else's resources.

I've been reading up on Gaza and its history; how that piece of land came to be and who agreed on what.  These are matters that politicians attempt to iron out - which may mean that these issues may not ever be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

I believe there's another option - one that's now being exercised more - the people tell their elected representatives what they want ... and they hold their elected leaders accountable for their actions ... and they stop a country from going to war, when they, the people of the country believe it is wrong.  It's up to the collective communities of the world to put an end to this situation.

Why is Gaza so important to Israel?
Why are Israel's armed forces leveling buildings on the borders?  Why are those buildings and grounds being occupied by people from Israel in defiance of previous treaties?

I think back to the Gulf war and remind myself that people died for nothing more than the West's ambition to destabilise the Arab world and to then better control the main resource of the area, oil.  Oil has generated over 1 Trillion Dollars for the USA over the last decade.  The USA generate income to the tune of $250 Million Dollars per day.  That seems to be the common denominator here and perhaps the reason why the USA and UK have been ineffective at resolving the situation. 

Could it be that Israel want undisputed control of the gas and oil resources that were discovered in 2009?


Who governs Gaza?
The West Bank and Gaza Strip were part of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1947. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were governed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Chairman Yasser Arafat. While the areas were predominately settled by Arabs some Jewish people also live there.

After the UN partition of 1948 and the failure of the creation of an Arab state envisioned by the partition, the West Bank was annexed by Jordan on April 24, 1950. 

In 1948, during the First Arab-Israeli War, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. It formally came under the control of Egypt by the terms of the Arab-Israeli armistice agreement signed in 1949. In October 1967, Israeli forces occupied both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during the Six Day War. 

In April 1993, after two decades of uprisings, negotiations, and armed conflicts, Israel and the PLO agreed during secret negotiations to gradually extend self-government of both regions to the Palestinians.


Who are Hamas?

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament,[10] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government's commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas resisted such changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[33][34]

In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[35] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[35] after which Hamas retained control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[35] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.[36]

In June 2008, as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Hamas ceased rocket attacks on Israel and made some efforts to prevent attacks by other organizations.[37][38] After a four-month calm, the conflict escalated when Israel carried out a military action with the stated aim of preventing an abduction planned by Hamas, using a tunnel that had been dug under the border security fence,[broken citation] and killed seven Hamas operatives. In retaliation, Hamas attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets.[38][39]

In late December 2008, Israel attacked Gaza,[40] withdrawing its forces from the territory in mid-January 2009.[41] After the Gaza War, Hamas continued to govern the Gaza Strip and Israel maintained its economic blockade. On May 4, 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for "creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government" prior to national elections scheduled for 2012.[42] According to Israeli news reports quoting Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, as a condition of joining the PLO, Khaled Meshaal agreed to discontinue the "armed struggle" against Israel and accept Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders, alongside Israel.[43]

Hostilities resumed between November 14–21, 2012.

On 12 June 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. IDF initiated an operation in the West Bank aimed to find them (not until June 30 were their bodies found). Israeli authorities have named two Hamas members as prime suspects: Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasm.[44] The increased tensions soon escalated, and a full military operation began on 8 July  2014.


The Geneva Convention
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the first three treaties (1864, 1906, 1929), and added a fourth treaty. The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic, wartime rights of prisoners (civil and military); established protections for the wounded; and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries.[1] Moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants, yet, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper — the use of weapons of war — which is the subject of the Hague Conventions (First Hague Conference, 1899; Second Hague Conference 1907), and the biochemical warfare Geneva Protocol (Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, 1925).

Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict
This article states that the certain minimum rules of war apply to armed conflicts that are not of an international character, but that are contained within the boundaries of a single country. The applicability of this article rests on the interpretation of the term armed conflict.[12] For example it would apply to conflicts between the Government and rebel forces, or between two rebel forces, or to other conflicts that have all the characteristics of war but that are carried out within the confines of a single country. A handful of individuals attacking a police station would not be considered an armed conflict subject to this article, but only subject to the laws of the country in question.[12]
The other Geneva Conventions are not applicable in this situation but only the provisions contained within Article 3,[12] and additionally within the language of Protocol II. The rationale for the limitation is to avoid conflict with the rights of Sovereign States that were not part of the treaties. When the provisions of this article apply, it states that:[25]
  • Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
    • violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
    • taking of hostages;
    • outrages upon dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and
    • the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
  • The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
Enforcement authority of the United Nations Security Council
The final international tribunal for all issues related to the Geneva Conventions and other treaties is the United Nations Security Council. As a charter, the UN Charter is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. The UN Charter's Article 25 and others[26] require that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations. The UNSC rarely invokes its authority regarding the Geneva Conventions and so most issues are resolved by regional treaties or by national law.

Protecting powers
The term protecting power has a specific meaning under these Conventions. A protecting power is a state that is not taking part in the armed conflict, but that has agreed to look after the interests of a state that is a party to the conflict. The protecting power is a mediator enabling the flow of communication between the parties to the conflict. The protecting power also monitors implementation of these Conventions, such as by visiting the zone of conflict and prisoners of war. The protecting power must act as an advocate for prisoners, the wounded, and civilians.

Grave breaches
Not all violations of the treaty are treated equally. The most serious crimes are termed grave breaches, and provide a legal definition of a war crime. Grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions include the following acts if committed against a person protected by the convention:
  • willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, including biological experiments
  • willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
  • compelling a protected person to serve in the armed forces of a hostile power
  • willfully depriving a protected person of the right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime.
Also considered grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention are the following:

Nations who are party to these treaties must enact and enforce legislation penalizing any of these crimes.[28] Nations are also obligated to search for persons alleged to commit these crimes, or persons having ordered them to be committed, and to bring them to trial regardless of their nationality and regardless of the place where the crimes took place.

The principle of universal jurisdiction also applies to the enforcement of grave breaches when the UN Security Council asserts its authority and jurisdiction from the UN Charter to apply universal jurisdiction. The UNSC did this via the International Criminal Court when they established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to investigate and/or prosecute alleged violations.


You may recognise actions by Israel AND Hamas that have contravened parts of the above sections.  This is not acceptable.  Counter terrorist operations are very different to all out war and the populace of the area have to be protected against breaches of the Geneva Convention.

Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict 
The Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict was adopted by the United Nations in 1974 and went into force the same year. It was proposed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, on the grounds that women and children are often the victims of wars, civil unrest, and other emergency situations that cause them to suffer "inhuman acts and consequently suffer serious harm".[1]

The Declaration states that women and children suffer victimization during armed conflict due to "suppression, aggression, colonialism, racism, alien domination and foreign subjugation". The Declaration specifically prohibits attacks and bombing of civilian populations (Article 1) and the use of chemical and biological weapons on civilian populations (Article 2). Article 3 requires states to abide by the [[Geneva Protocol]] of 1925 and the Geneva Convention of 1949. The Declaration also requires countries to take measures to end "persecution, torture, punitive measures, degrading treatment and violence" especially when they are targeted against women and children, as well as recognizing "imprisonment, torture, shooting, mass arrests, collective punishment, destruction of dwellings, and forcible evictions" as criminal acts.[2]
Certain inalienable rights are also enshrined in the Declaration, such as access to food, shelter, and medical care, which are to be provided to women and children caught in emergency situations.[3]

Finally, the Declaration cites the binding nature of other international law instruments, naming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Declaration of the Rights of the Child.[4]


Rule of Minimum Force
I've served in a similar environment of hatred as a Military Policeman.  I have never seen behaviour as witnessed in this video - Members of Israels security forces operating in Palestine with absolutely no discipline - no regard for the rule of 'minimum force'. - this is also a breach of the Geneva Convention.  Treatment of children in this way seems to be the norm though as documented by this report:

Have Israel attacked UN installations before July 2014?
Sadly, yes.  In 2009 a United Nations school was bombed by Israel.

You can see a slideshow of the damage by clicking here.  Jeremy Paxman interviewed Mark Regev about the attack in the video below:

and by Jon Snow in 2009

and now in 2014 by Emily Maitlis

 If you decide to bomb buildings without checking or ensuring that non-combatants have been evacuated, you are guilty of a war crime.

If you suspect that terrorists are hiding amongst civilians, you use infantry to assault those buildings and you ensure that they operate within the Geneva Convention and the rule of minimum force.  Current evidence suggests that Israel's armed forces are being used to commit genocide.

The way forward
When you consider how long this war has been raging, the amount of hatred that exists between some of the the survivors of these atrocities on both sides, as well as the amount of trauma that must be affecting everyone involved on the ground - it's hard to see a way out - or an end to the fighting.

This is where United Nations troops should now be deployed as a peacekeeping force - to take any action necessary against Israeli or Palestinian troops/activists necessary but within the parameters of the Geneva Convention because it's clear that Israel have breached various forms of Human Rights, as have Hamas with every rocket they launch into Israel.

The United Nations has a clear duty here and must act responsibly and soon, even though some of the more powerful member countries are failing to act for fiscal reasons, particularly the USA, who have just sold munitions to resupply Israeli operations in Gaza.  I would have thought that a country that supplies another country munitions after it has clear evidence that those munitions are going to be used to commit further breaches of Human Rights, is guilty of the some offence.

I feel that the resolution of the issues between Israel and Gaza in now the responsibility of the International community.

Something needs to be done to protect the children there ... and to start breaking the cycle of violence, hatred, suffering and trauma ... on both sides.

In closing I would ask you remember something ... this is not about Jews and Muslims as people of different religions live on both sides of the borders.  This is about Israel and Palestine.  Jews and Muslims live together peacefully - even in Palestine and Israel ... and they have been protesting together against the attacks on Gaza.

Jews in New York say 'Not in our name'.

Jews in the UK say this is not a religious issue in this video.

People in London protesting against Israel's murder of civilians.

As a species, we should be evolving beyond the need to war upon each other.  War is caused by the greedy, by politicians and by bullies.  War is not the answer to problems such as these.

Media blackouts and propoganda are also tools of warfare.  If the government of a certain country tells a station to 'not report' on an issue - they will comply.  Incidentally, this is why the UK government are trying to push through legislation to control what goes up on the internet.  There have been a great many atrocities of late that the western world wouldn't know about if people hadn't been brave enough to post videos, words or commentaries online themselves. 

Who profits by war apart from the arms, natural resources, real estate, pharmaceutical, food and Information Technology industries?  The dots are there, you just have to look hard enough to link them together and care enough to do something about situations like these. War is governed by big business and top rank politicians will always have their fingers in a few dirty pies - it's the nature of the beast.

Get involved and help stop the murder of these children.  The definition of 'murder':  the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.

 Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Popular Posts