Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The New York Times on Israeli War Crimes

What's astonishing about this development is not the actual prospect of real charges being made against Israeli commanders (that won't happen IMHO) but that The New York Times actually writes about the prospect of such prosecutions. Is this more of a signal that some US media barriers are being broken down when it comes to Israel and Palestine?

Adam Horowitz - Mondoweiss

Today - front page, above the fold - the New York Times helped build the case that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. The article "In Shattered Gaza Town, Roots of Seething Split" includes stories of schools and houses Israel destroyed without cause and contains horrifying passages such as this:
Omar Abu Halima and his two teenage cousins tried to take the burned body of his baby sister and two other living but badly burned girls to the hospital on that Sunday.

The boys were taking the girls and six others on a tractor, when, according to several accounts from villagers, Israeli soldiers told them to stop. According to their accounts, they got down, put their hands up, and suddenly rounds were fired, killing two teenage boys: Matar Abu Halima, 18, and Muhamed Hekmet, 17.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said that soldiers had reported that the two were armed and firing. Villagers strongly deny that. The tractor that villagers say was carrying the group is riddled with 36 bullet holes.

The villagers were forced to abandon the bodies of the teenage boys and the baby, and when rescue workers arrived 11 days later, the baby’s body had been eaten by dogs, her legs two white bones, captured in a gruesome image on a relative’s cellphone. The badly burned girls and others on the tractor had fled to safety.

Matar’s mother, Nabila Abu Halima, said she had been shot through the arm when she tried to move toward her son. Her left arm bears a round scar. Her son came back to her in pieces, his body crushed under tank treads.

In their defense, the Israeli commanding officer in that part of Gaza responded, “I can promise you that throughout the war, there were many times that civilians walked by us and we never shot at them.”

The above quote is from Major E. In the article we also hear from Captain E. and Captain Y. These commanding officers are going incognito as part of an Israeli policy to not publicize the names of Israelis who fought in Gaza out of fear of war crimes prosecution. Doesn't this tell us all we really need to know?

The article notes, "human rights groups are crisscrossing Gaza, documenting what they believe will form the basis for war crimes proceedings aimed at demonstrating that Israel used disproportionate force." Remember, the US State Department has an office to investigate war crimes. Contact them to tell them to get involved in the growing international effort to hold Israel accountable. (Adam Horowitz)

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