The Jordan Times
June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Displaying, yet again, utter disregard for international humanitarian law and contempt for the sanctity of life, Israeli commandos yesterday attacked the Gaza-bound aid flotilla and cold-bloodedly murdered several activists on board a Turkish ship.

Their mistake: trying to deliver much-needed aid to the 1.5 million Gazans suffering under a prolonged Israeli blockade that constitutes, according to the Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, “collective punishment under international law”.

If those responsible for reinforcing this same law wish to preserve it as a credible yardstick, they need to take urgent measures to deal with this buccaneer attack.

Many world leaders expressed “shock” and “condemnation” in the face of the shootings that they “deplored” and called it, with various degrees of censure, a “grave act”, a “massacre”, a “terrorist act” or a “very painful act”.

Whatever the name, killing people for the simple reason that they want to aid fellow human beings in dire need qualifies plainly as murder, and as such, the action has to be investigated and dealt with accordingly.

As Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, “this underlines that the blockade of Gaza should be ended as soon as possible”, because “this type of military action is unacceptable… It is clear that this is a use of force against civilians”.

Expressing “regret” for the loss of life should not get Israel off the hook. Its excuse that it “acted in self-defence” is a tall tale, for the world knows, as well as Israel, that the ship convoy was not there to wage war, but to alleviate the misery of the people of Gaza.

Israel alleged that its forces “were attacked by protesters” - their ship being stormed by Israeli troops, that is indeed convincing! - “but it begs credibility that the level of lethal force used by Israeli troops could have been justified”, said Malcolm Smart of Amnesty International, which called the act exactly what it was: use of “excessive force”.

People of conscience are outraged. Israel’s friends and foes alike are at least unsettled, at most outraged by the “all out of proportion to any threat posed” act. So, then, isn’t it time to stop Israel from acting with impunity and held accountable for its offences?

The international humanitarian law is there. It only needs to be applied fairly.


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