Arab News (Editorial)
February 4, 2010 - 1:00am§ion=0&article=132356&d=4&m=2&y=2010

Shells containing phosphorus, which when exposed to air burns through anything with which it comes into contact, are OK in international law provided that they are not fired at civilians. During its bombardment of the Gaza ghetto, Israel repeatedly denied that it had used shells containing this horrific chemical. In the wake of the incontrovertible UN findings that phosphorus shells were deployed against Gaza’s heavily built up areas, the Israelis changed their tune.

As a result of a military inquiry, two top Israeli commanders have been disciplined for ordering the shells be fired, repeatedly. Israeli government spokesmen around the world have been pointing to this apparently laudable display of Israel always being prepared to do what is right, as would any other civilized society. There was, however, no analysis of why, during the bombardment, these same spokesmen were vowing for weeks that despite all the evidence, phosphorous shells were not being used against Palestinian civilians. Nor for that matter has there been any explanation of what these cruel munitions were doing in the ammunition stores of units that knew they were going to be attacking heavy concentrations of civilians. As usual, with practiced aplomb, the Israel propaganda machine has turned face about on a dime. Indeed, it is almost as if the Netanyahu administration is claiming credit and congratulation for finally admitting the truth about the shelling, as if this cancels out the original crime and indeed somehow vindicates the Israelis for the whole barbarous and shameful Gaza assault.

However, days after this latest attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of international opinion, the Israelis have reverted to form. Police officers have been cleared of shooting a pro-Palestinian activist in the West Bank last year. American Tristan Anderson suffered crippling brain injuries when he was shot in the face as he left a demonstration at Naalin protesting the illegal barrier. The policemen walked free because the court decided that they “ had no criminal intent”.

This is an interesting legal take. All around the world people are regularly convicted of manslaughter, for killing someone when they did not intend to.

Yet Israeli policemen do not, it seems, fall within such a law. They can shoot and kill Palestinians and foreign supporters at will, perhaps because at bottom the Israeli authorities do not consider it “criminal” to “intend” to harm or slay an unarmed protester.

Demonstrators are a nuisance. They make a loud noise and generate footage of the latest Israeli aggression and encroachments. Moreover, sometimes they threaten the power of the Israeli state with the deadly rocks they claw from the ground and hurl at soldiers cocooned in US-supplied body armor. What the poor Israeli security forces can do except shoot and shell these Palestinians and their foreign friends with such deadly effect?

Yet while the military power rests with the Israelis, the moral power remains firmly among the Palestinians. When Israeli policemen are acquitted after gunning down foreigners, maybe the outside world will now understand the great injustices that are visited daily upon inhabitants of the occupied territories.


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