Long Overdue: Bringing Justice to Gaza

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Under pressure from the international community, the United Nations dispatched last month a team of experts to Gaza to probe Israeli military war crimes committed during the summer offensive in which more than 12,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, were indiscriminately killed and wounded.

The UN renewed its call on Tel Aviv to support the investigation and its findings, yet Israel claimed it had conducted its own investigation and reached the conclusion that its “army acted professional and tried to avoid civilian casualties.”

Israel also rejected an Amnesty International report that suggests its armed forces committed war crimes during the recent military operation, saying it provides no evidence!

Just like the UN report, Amnesty blamed Israel for serious incidents leading to death, injuries or damage during the conflict. It concluded that Israeli actions involved varying degrees of negligence and recklessness with regard to UN premises and the safety of UN staff and other civilians within those premises, with consequent deaths, injuries and extensive physical damage and loss of property.

In a weird mix of arrogance and insult originating from Benjamin Netanyahu and flooding the Zionist media, Israel, however, denounced this report as well and termed it biased and misleading. The UN report, however, awaits the UN Security Council’s decision. This while the United States has so far vetoed all of the Security Council’s past anti-Israeli resolutions.

This while, Palestinians are still protesting against the UN inaction in the reconstruction of the besieged coastal sliver. They have told the office of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza that the UN has failed to speed up reconstruction efforts and ease Israel’s restriction on the entry of construction materials.

The latest Israeli war, which started on July 8, ended on August 26 with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The onslaught killed at least 2,140 Palestinians.

According to initial figures, over 89,000 Palestinian homes have been damaged. A total of 15,000 homes have been either leveled to the ground or badly damaged that are no more habitable.

Robert Turner, director of the UNRWA operations in Gaza, says the extent of damage and homelessness is worse than first thought. “It is estimated that as many as 400 trucks, delivering building materials from concrete to machinery, are needed every day for the next six months for the reconstruction process. However, only around 75 trucks have made deliveries so far,” he says.

The Popular Committee for Monitoring the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip also says it will take at least twenty years to rebuild Gaza. International donors have pledged $5.4 billion for the rebuilding process. Palestinian experts, however, argue that the reconstruction would cost around $7.7 billion.

All told, the reaction of the UN Security Council in general, and Washington in particular, to the recent UN inquiry could be considered as a test to determine whether they have truly changed their flawed policies of the past vis-à-vis the Middle East, or whether they are still resolute to blindly shore up the racist entity – even if that means losing their credibility among the international community.

However, the UN inquiry, which has been accepted by Hamas, should be fully backed by the UN secretary general, the Security Council and all those states who profess to care about the vital importance of upholding the rule of law in international affairs.

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