The Israel Air Force on Saturday dropped leaflets into the Gaza Strip warning residents that it plans to escalate its two-week-old offensive. …It says the notices are meant as a “general warning.”
It’s hard to imagine, short of full-on indiscriminate civilian bombing, how this attack can be “escalated.” Is there any limit at all to the number of civilian deaths that Israel is willing to cause? And, given that Palestinians are not allowed to leave Gaza and have no safe haven within the Gaza Strip, what is the point of dropping leaflets warning the civilian population of “escalation” other than… to sow further terror?
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has already issued a report calling for the investigation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. According to the U.N.’s Humanitarian Affairs Office (PDF), more than 1/3 of overall Palestinian deaths are children (34% of the almost 800 total deaths), and a similar percentage of the more than 3,000 wounded are also children (34.8%).
Israel has said that its forces have killed approximately 300 Hamas fighters. Taking the numbers at face value, and assuming for the sake of argument that all the Hamas combatant KIAs are counted among the dead reported by the U.N., that means the IDF is killing more than one and a half times as many civilians as fighters. This is a clear violation of the Law of Land Warfare. In other words, a war crime.
The Israelis explicitly reject the U.N.’s call for a cease fire and continue to “escalate” after 14 full days (and counting) of full-scale air and land attacks on Gaza.
I’m not going to include pictures of dead Palestinian children with this post, you can find them if you look for them. If I do another one on Gaza, there will be pictures.
UPDATE: Under the circumstances, I feel no obligation to be fair to Israel. They made a boneheaded decision to attack Gaza which is against their own interests, and also betrays U.S. foreign policy. However, Israel-supporter par excellence Alan Dershowitz has an op-ed in the L.A. Times that attempts to justify Israeli actions based on Hamas war crimes.
UPDATE: After reading the Dershowitz piece, check out today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by another law professor, George Bisharat. Israel Is Committing War Crimes: Hamas’s violations are no justification for Israel’s actions.
See the continuation for more updates from Monday, January 12…
UPDATE: Human Rights Watch has condemned Israel’s use of white phosphorus artillery shells, specifically a barrage aimed at the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel today for “grave violations” of human rights of the people of Gaza.
UPDATE: The New York Times has an excellent article describing the tactics used by both sides (based entirely on Israeli sources, however, not Hamas).
Officers say… Israeli infantry units are going in “heavy.” If they draw fire, they return it with heavy firepower. If they are told to reach an objective, they first call in artillery or airpower and use tank fire. Then they move, but only behind tanks and armored bulldozers, riding in armored personnel carriers, spending as little time in the open as possible.
As the commander of the army’s elite combat engineering unit, Yahalom, told the Israeli press on Wednesday: “We are very violent. We do not balk at any means to protect the lives of our soldiers.” His name cannot be published under censorship rules.
[According to Jonathan Fighel of Israel’s International Institute for Counterterrorism] “the mind-set from top to bottom is fight and fight cruel; this is a war, not another pinpoint operation.”