Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Israel / Palestine

Gaza Flotilla: Global Citizens Must Respond Where Governments Have Failed
By Stéphane Hessel
The Huffington Post, June 16, 2010
"Israel's illegal and immoral attack on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid convoy, which left at least nine dead and dozens injured, has rightfully stunned the world. The all-civilian convoy of 6 ships carried over 10,000 tons of critically-needed humanitarian aid and nearly 700 citizens from 40 countries. The Flotilla was an ambitious attempt to break the siege imposed by Israel on the 1.5 million Palestinians of the occupied Gaza strip, since 2007. ... The Israeli attack on the unarmed aid convoy in international waters was '[a clear] violation of international humanitarian law, international law of the seas, and [by most interpretations] international criminal law,' to use the words of Richard Falk, Professor of International Law and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is a sad reality that world governments have for too long become either complicit or apathetic to Israel's crimes and fostered its culture of impunity, under a shield of unquestionable backing by the US.
Its initial condemnation notwithstanding, the US government has pressured the UN Security Council members, again, to adopt ambiguous language which relieves Israel of responsibility and creates parity between aggressor and victim. Characteristically, the Israeli government has blamed the victims of its raid for attacking the Israeli soldiers, claiming 'self-defense.' Prominent legal expert and Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at Sydney Law School, Professor Ben Saul, squarely refutes Israel's claim arguing: 'Legally speaking, government military forces rappelling onto a ship to illegally capture it are treated no differently than other criminals. The right of self-defense in such situations rests with the passengers on board: a person is legally entitled to resist one's own unlawful capture, abduction and detention.' He adds that 'if Israeli forces killed people, they may not only have infringed the human right to life, but they may also have committed serious international crimes. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.' Despite UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's statement calling for an end to Israel's illegal siege of Gaza, the Security Council has failed to call for an unconditional end to the blockade, allowing Israel to commit grave war crimes with impunity, as well documented in the UN Goldstone report. The absence of meaningful action from governments to hold Israel accountable to international law leaves open one path for citizens of conscience: to take this responsibility upon themselves, as done against apartheid South Africa. Non-violent citizen-led initiatives, exemplified by the Flotilla and the various boycott and divestment campaigns around the world, present the most promising way to overcome the failure of world governments to stand up to Israel's intransigence and lawless behavior. ... I endorse the heartfelt words of Scottish writer Iain Banks, who in reaction to Israel's atrocious attack on the Freedom Flotilla suggested that the best way for international artists, writers and academics to 'convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation' is 'simply by having nothing more to do with this criminal government.'"
[n.b. "Stéphane Frédéric Hessel is a diplomat, former ambassador, French resistance fighter and BCRA agent. Born German, he obtained French nationality in 1937. He participated in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948." Thanks to Jill Mitchell for bringing this source to my attention.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ