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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

If There are No Witnesses, There are No War Crimes

(Keywords and tags: , , , , , the doesn't like witnesses - or )

The big story last night was a seemingly deliberate attack on UN observers by the Israeli Defense Force.

Four United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in an Israeli air strike on an observation post in southern Lebanon, the UN has said.

A bomb struck the post occupied by the peacekeepers of the Unifil force in the Khiam area, it said.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was “shocked” at the “apparently deliberate targeting” of the post.

The attack came as Israel said it would control an area in southern Lebanon until international forces deployed.

The force will be discussed at crisis talks to be held in Rome on Wednesday.

The IDF has a history of firing on witnesses. In this conflict, a FOX News crew was fired upon (video here) and ambulances have been targeted - in this AP photo, the red cross on the roof of an ambulance is hit dead center. Bullseye!

None of this is new and shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with IDF tactics. In 2002, in the palestinian refugee camp of Jenin. According to a UN report on that conflict, "On 4 March (before the Jenin incursion), the head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Emergency Medical Service in Jenin was killed by a shell fired from an Israeli tank while he was travelling in a clearly marked ambulance. On 7 March, an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was shot and killed while riding in an UNRWA ambulance near Tulkarm in the West Bank. And on 8 April, an UNRWA ambulance was fired on as it tried to reach a wounded man in Jenin. The Government of Israel has asserted that ambulances were used to transport terrorists and their weapons."

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Since the second intifada began in 2000, fire from Israeli forces has killed several journalists and injured dozens. Although the overall intensity of the conflict in the Occupied Territories has decreased, the risks to journalists remain real. And as in years past, Palestinian journalists suffered the most casualties.

At least one reporter was killed in 2004: Mohamed Abu Halima, a journalism student at Al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus and a correspondent for the university-affiliated Al-Najah radio station. Abu Halima was killed by gunfire, apparently from Israeli troops, while reporting on their activities near the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. Local journalists said that when he was shot, Abu Halima was standing among a crowd of people in an area where Palestinian youths and the Israeli army had earlier clashed. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that "as far as we know, [Abu Halima] was not a journalist"; that he "was armed and he opened fire on IDF forces"; and that the IDF "returned fire." Eyewitnesses denied those allegations.

In 2002, the Independent reported:

A woman with her leg all but ripped off by a helicopter rocket, the mangled remains hanging on by a thread of skin as she slowly bleeds to death. A 10-year-old boy lying dead in the street, his arm blown off and a great hole in his side. A mother shot dead when she ran into the street to scream for help for her dying son. The wounded left to die slowly, in horrible agony, because the ambulances were not allowed in to treat them.


The wounded were left to die. The Israeli army refused to allow ambulances in to treat them, which is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. The Red Cross has publicly said people have died because Israel blocked the ambulances. Slobodan Milosevic is on trial in the Hague for breaking the Geneva Conventions, while Ariel Sharon shakes Colin Powell's hand for the television cameras. The Geneva Conventions are in tatters in Israel.

The Israeli authorities may be able to hide the evidence, but they cannot silence the stories that have been pouring out of those who managed to escape the carnage in the camp. These stories cannot be verified yet, but there are scores of them, and many agree in details. Fikri abu al-Heija was one of those who came out of the carnage in the camp.

Someone's going to read this and think, "Hey! What about Hizbollah?". I'm siding with terrorists by pointing out war crimes, I'm sure.

The thing is, Israel's supposed to be the good guys here - at least, that's what the MSM would have you believe. But the truth is that there are no good guys in this fight and some people seem to have trouble understanding that two parties can be in conflict without either being right or acting legally. And, despite the justice or injustice of the cause, Israel's actions are deliberately illegal. This is why potential witnesses are fired on.

The US is pretty much alone in the world in supporting this action. We shouldn't be an accomplice.


(photo courtesy of Associated Press)