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Israel knows that international crime pays

4 June 2010

By Dara Mac Neill via Republican News

Errant behaviour and repeated transgressions are not punished. For Israel, the opposite is often the case and the transgressor is rewarded while the victim is doubly punished.

Ultimately, the real surprise was that so many people were surprised, or at least purported to be.

Because it had seemed in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead – the murderous assault on a cornered civilian population in Gaza – that Israel had long since lost its capacity to shock the international community.

But the key feature of modern Israel is that it has absorbed the chief lesson of its short history. And that lesson is simple: crime pays. Errant behaviour and repeated transgressions are not punished. For Israel, the opposite is often the case and the transgressor is rewarded while the victim is doubly punished.

After the murder of over 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – the huge majority civilians, several hundred of them women and children – a UN investigation led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone found the Israeli military guilty of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But as of yet, there have been no moves to instigate legal or other proceedings against either the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) or the state of Israel. And within the international community of nations, the repercussions for Israel have been negligible to non-existent.

There is no single country that has been the subject of a greater number of UN resolutions of censure and condemnation (well over a hundred). In addition, Israel remains famously in breach of longstanding and crucial resolutions: on the Palestinians’ Right of Return to the homes they were expelled from (Resolution 194, passed 1948); on withdrawal from the Occupied Territories (Resolution 242, passed 1967); on the illegality of settlements in the Occupied Territories (Resolution 446, passed 1979).

And so the obvious lesson is learned: as the sanctions and penalties have failed to materialise, so Israel’s capacity to act with utter impunity has simply amplified and expanded.

By comparison, Saddam Hussein’s alleged and unproven breach of UN resolutions brought invasion, regime change and continued occupation.

More recently, we saw the limited fallout from Israel’s illegal use of the passports of other nations to carry out the assassination of a Hamas figure, in Dubai. There has been noise and raised voices, some diplomatic expulsions, but no penalties.

Indeed, Israel’s flouting of international laws and conventions, not to mention its endangering of the citizens of several other countries, had no impact on the members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), which is comprised of 31 of the richest, most powerful nations on earth.

On 27-28 May, Israel was formally accepted into the organisation, along with Estonia and Slovenia. The OECD describes itself as an organisation that brings together “countries committed to democracy and the market economy …

Obviously, the market economy scores far higher than democratic values, in the OECD entrance exam.

Within 48 hours of that accession ceremony Israeli commandos were storming a flotilla of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid to the blockaded citizenry of Gaza. No doubt their assault was timed to minimise potential embarrassment at the OECD. But as of yet, there have been no calls from fellow members for their expulsion.

Ten, maybe more, unarmed civilians – aid workers or activists – were killed. Murdered.

When you dispatch a heavily armed assault force onto ships in the dead of night, ships that carry humanitarian supplies and civilians and which are sailing in international waters, you must bear the full responsibility for all that follows.

The activities of a small number of Somali pirates – which generated tides of international outrage and led to the dispatch of naval vessels – never came close to the actions of Israel in this case.

If the aim was to take the ships into an Israeli port, as has been claimed, why not approach them in daylight hours, in Israeli waters? And why not ‘arm’ your troops with crowd dispersal and crowd control equipment, as opposed to automatic weapons?

It was said that the civilian death toll in the Gaza offensive was so high because Israeli commanders were anxious to minimise their military casualties, so maximum force was unleashed and Gaza became a virtual free-fire zone. It appears those in charge of the Israeli piracy policy take the same view.

Several months ago, before this latest outrage, the Israeli writer Gideon Levy lamented the state of his nation, believing that no positive change was possible in the “complacent, belligerent and condescending” Israel of today.

In the aftermath of Israel’s venture into piracy, the country’s most prominent peace group, Gush Shalom described the Nethanyahu administration as a “government of pyromaniacs that has set fire to the region”.

They went on: “Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to reality could do something like that – consider ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.

“This is a day of disgrace to the State of Israel, a day of anxiety in which we discover that our future was entrusted to a bunch of trigger-happy people without any responsibility.”

Over the next 24-48 hours, the crew of the MV Rachel Corrie will come into contact with Israeli forces as they seek to breach the illegal blockade of Gaza. There are five Irish crew aboard.

Their ship is named after the 23-year-old US citizen who was crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer in the Gaza Strip, as she stood in front of the vehicle to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes. No one was ever charged or held responsible for her death.

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