At the Emergency Room of at Shifaa Hospital, Gaza. Photo: Gigi Ibrahim, under a CC License.
The Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has now assessed the destruction to Gaza and the 1.6 million people living in an area of land just 41-kilometers long and 12-kilometers wide.
The devastation makes it impossible not to believe that the stated aim of Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai to ‘…send Gaza back to the Middle Ages’, Gilad Sharon’s calls to ‘flatten all of Gaza’, were not aberrations, but reflected Israeli government intentions.
In the first five days of the Gaza onslaught, the Israeli military state carried out 13,050 air strikes on the tiny strip already blockaded since electing the Hamas government in 2006.
The Al Mezan Centre’s initial findings on death and destruction are chilling and shaming but were out of date just 24 hours later. In an extensive list, damaged or destroyed schools now stand at 52, the deaths at 168.
Exactly what threat the clinics, the schools, the headquarters of the Palestinian Paralympic Committee, now rubble, posed to Israel’s security is unknown.. It is also hard to know what threat the dead pose to the State of Israel; three cemeteries were also bombed.
‘Children shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected against any form of indecent assault. The Parties to the conflict shall provide them with the care and aid they require, whether because of their age or for any other reason’, states paragraph 1, Article 77 of the Geneva Convention (1977).
On 15 November, Nader Basioni,14, sleeping in the same room as his brother Faris, saw the nine-year-old decapitated when metal from an air strike on ‘a near by field’ tore through the family home. ‘His head was gone except for a piece of skin of his face’, said Nader. ‘I’m afraid to go to sleep because I see him in my dreams. It’s the same thing over and over.’
That famed ‘pinpoint accuracy’ stuff has done well. ‘Pinpointed’ seemingly, were two dead boys probably about nine years old, one with his stomach near eviscerated, remnants of his leg placed on his body. The other, his leg made meat, exposed bone, blood drenching his jaunty blue and white, matelot-type sweat shirt.
A nine-year-old girl lost the fingers of her right hand, her mother is working to explain that her artistic passion can be achieved as well with her left. Pinpointing doesn’t get more accurate than the fingers of a small right hand.
Seven-year-old Nisma Kalajar may never talk again. She suffered a head fracture after falling from the third floor family apartment when it was targeted in a drone strike.
The images seem without end: another father kissing the face of his baby daughter, his arms round his other two lifeless, pre-school age children; Iyad Abu Khawsah, eighteen months, so frail, ethereally slender, lying in the arms of a stricken faced morgue attendant.
Sitting on a hospital trolley, next to his prone mother was a child about the same age of that bandaged little brother. He had his chubby hand on one side of her face, and his knee wedged against the other side. Her great eyes looked up at his scratched, smudged face. He sat there shoeless, in black, yellow and brown top and just a diaper, patiently waiting for her to wake up. She never will.
When eleven members of the Dallou family were annihilated with five children, their home reduced to a large crater, the Israeli army declared it a: ‘mistake in identification of the right home.’ a blatant admission that targeting homes is a norm, in yet further defiance of a swathe of international law.
The direct targeting of civilians is a breach of the laws of armed conflict. ‘Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited,’ states Additional Protocol I of 1977.
Israel, naturally, has not ratified Protocol I, but this provision generally recognized as customary law, and is theoretically applicable regardless of ratification.’ It has to be wondered how a country that repeatedly defies UN Resolutions continues to get away with it.
Further, forgotten it seems, amid the deafening silence of the United Nations and its seemingly now mute Secretary General (even his spineless predecessor Kofi Annan used to respond to illegal annihilations with: ‘regrettable’ or ‘unfortunate’) are two UN Resolutions of 1974 and 2002 affirming the rights of the Palestinian people in Pealtesjing to self-determination and sovereignty.
If, as seems near certain, Palestine moves from ‘Observer entity’ to ‘Non-member observer State’ at the UN on 29 November, which: ‘implies recognition of statehood …’ states Vera Jelinek, Dean of New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, regained nationhood of what remants remain of Palestine’s un- stolen land edges closer.
As Al Mezan points out in their Report: ‘The failure of international community to make timely, effective interventions to protect civilians and condemn violations of international law; including the failure of the Security Council to issue a statement (on the Gaza attack) illustrates that international community continues to apply (double) political standards on human rights and international law issues; an attitude that could allow for violations of international law to recur in the future.
In India, 14 November was Universal Children’s Day, which is celebrated there on the birthday of Jawahalal Nehuru, the country’s first Prime Minister who was much influenced by his friend Mahatma Gandi, who said: ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it – always.’