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Thu Jul 31, 2014, 06:56 PM

Debunking Israel's 'self-defense' argument



July 31, 2014 6:00AM ET
by John Dugard

Israel claims that it is acting in self-defense in Gaza, thereby portraying itself as the victim in the present conflict. President Barack Obama and both houses of the U.S. Congress have endorsed this justification for the use of force. But is it an accurate assessment?

Gaza is not an independent state like Lebanon or Jordan. Israel accepts this but instead sees Gaza as a “hostile entity,” a concept unknown to international law and one that Israel has not sought to explain.

But the status of Gaza is clear. It is an occupied territory — part of the occupied Palestinian territory. In 2005 Israel withdrew its settlers and the Israel Defense Forces from Gaza, but it continues to retain control of it, not only through intermittent incursions into and regular shelling of the territory but also by effectively controlling the land crossings into Gaza, its airspace and territorial waters and its population registry, which determines who may leave and enter.

Effective control is the test for occupation. The International Court of Justice recently confirmed this in a dispute between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The physical presence of Israel in Gaza is not necessary provided it retains effective control and authority over the territory by other means. Modern technology now permits effective control from outside the occupied territory, and this is what Israel has established.

in full: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/gaza-israel-internationalpoliticsunicc.html

40 replies, 2902 views

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply Debunking Israel's 'self-defense' argument (Original post)
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 OP
mwrguy Jul 2014 #1
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #3
oberliner Jul 2014 #2
King_David Jul 2014 #5
4now Jul 2014 #4
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #6
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #7
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #8
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #9
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #11
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #13
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #14
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #15
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #16
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #17
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #18
Fozzledick Jul 2014 #19
Fozzledick Aug 2014 #20
kayecy Aug 2014 #21
Fozzledick Aug 2014 #22
kayecy Aug 2014 #24
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #23
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #10
Jefferson23 Jul 2014 #12
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #25
COLGATE4 Aug 2014 #26
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #27
COLGATE4 Aug 2014 #29
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #30
bemildred Aug 2014 #28
kayecy Aug 2014 #31
COLGATE4 Aug 2014 #33
kayecy Aug 2014 #35
COLGATE4 Aug 2014 #37
BillZBubb Aug 2014 #32
COLGATE4 Aug 2014 #34
Maedhros Aug 2014 #36
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #38
Maedhros Aug 2014 #39
Jefferson23 Aug 2014 #40

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 07:05 PM

1. Israel has been the aggressor since day one.

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Response to mwrguy (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 07:12 PM

3. The history of the conflict is striking. You might want to read this OP, posted earlier today

by bemildred, regarding the violent history. The Thrasybulus Syndrome: Israel’s War on Gaza

Francesco Guicciardini, the Florentine historian and diplomat, was the contemporary and friend of Niccolò Machiavelli. The latter now enjoys an everlasting fame (or infamy, as you please), having gotten an adjective named after him, but his friend Francesco, now forgotten, often had the better of Niccolò in argument. After Machiavelli’s death, Guicciardini read his Discourses on Livy’s Roman history in manuscript and wrote a lengthy analysis of it. Discussing Machiavelli’s observation that “a new prince in a city or province taken by him, must make everything new,” Guicciardini insisted on the weaknesses invariably incurred by force: “Violent remedies, though they make one safe from one aspect, yet from another . . . involve all kinds of weaknesses. Hence the prince must take courage to use these extraordinary means when necessary, and should yet take care not to miss any chance which offers of establishing his cause with humanity, kindness, and rewards, not taking as an absolute rule what says, who was always extremely partial to extraordinary and violent methods.”

The difference of opinion between Machiavelli and Guicciardini over the utility of force echoes down the ages. Every age presents some variation of it. But the old argument is displayed with a ferocious intensity in the ongoing controversy over Israel’s approach to Hamas and to the Palestinians. In dealing with its neighbors, there is no contemporary state more partial to extraordinary and violent methods than Israel. Israel has fought four major wars in the last eight years, including the Lebanon War of 2006 against Hezbollah and three devastating wars against Hamas in Gaza from late 2008 to the present (not counting several smaller operations from 2006 to 2008). It has assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists and bombed sites in Syria, Lebanon, and Sudan over the same time period, just as it has continually agitated for U.S. military strikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. In Israel, hawks have found a welcome abode; doves are an endangered species.

The regularity of Israel’s perceived need to use force is illustrated by the notorious expression, “mowing the lawn,” that one of its military officers used to describe strategy toward Gaza. It is reminiscent of the advice that Thrasybulus gave Periander of Corinth, recounted in Herodotus. Walking through a field, Thrasybulus broke off the tallest ears of grain by way of showing Periander’s envoy the best way to rule violently. The envoy couldn’t figure out his meaning, but Periander, the prototype of the ancient tyrant, understood immediately on hearing the envoy’s report. The analogy showed that violence could not be a one-time affair. New stalks would grow up. It would remain necessary to keep lopping off the top ones—i.e. mowing the lawn.

Machiavelli offers a view different from Thrasybulus. It is unfortunately all too true that Machiavelli did have a penchant for extraordinary and violent methods, as Guicciardini alleged, but his thought also reflected an appreciation of “the economy of violence.” “The indiscriminate exercise of force and the constant revival of fear,” as Sheldon Wolin observed of Machiavelli’s teaching, “could provoke the greatest of all dangers for any government, the kind of widespread apprehension and hatred which drove men to desperation.” This sense of the limits of force, even among one of its greatest partisans, was given expression in another of Machiavelli’s famous sayings, in which he advised, “One must be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this.” Israel’s strategy toward Hamas—seeking peace by periodically pummeling the Palestinians, shedding the blood of numerous innocents—violates Machiavelli’s injunction. It generates hatred as well as fear. It produces desperate men.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-thrasybulus-syndrome-israel%E2%80%99s-war-gaza-10968?page=show

http://www.democraticunderground.com/101698947

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 07:07 PM

2. Hey look it's John Dugard!

 

One can pretty accurately predict what the article says without even reading it, not unlike what one can do with Ali Abuminah or Alan Dershowitz.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:25 PM

5. Exactly right

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 07:32 PM

4. Israel tries to make up its own rules

Then get its bought and paid for US politicians to protect it.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:43 PM

6. Gaza’s Torment, Israel’s Crimes, Our Responsibilities

By Noam Chomsky

July 12, 2014 "ICH" - At 3am Gaza time, July 9, in the midst of Israel’s latest exercise in savagery, I received a phone call from a young Palestinian journalist in Gaza. In the background, I could hear his infant child wailing, amidst the sounds of explosions and jet planes, targeting any civilian who moves, and homes as well. He just saw a friend of his in a car clearly marked “press” blown away. And he heard shrieks next door after an explosion but can’t go outside or he’ll be a likely target. This is a quiet neighborhood, no military targets – except Palestinians who are fair game for Israel’s high tech US-supplied military machine. He said that 70% of the ambulances have been destroyed, and that by then over 70 had been killed, and of the 300 or so wounded, about 2/3 women and children. Few Hamas activists have been hit – or rocket launching sites. Just the usual victims.

It is important to understand what life is like in Gaza when Israel’s behavior is “restrained,” in between the regular manufactured crises like this one. A good sense is given in a report to UNRWA by Mads Gilbert, the courageous and expert Norwegian physician who has worked extensively in Gaza, also throughout the vicious and murderous Cast Lead operation. In every respect, the situation is disastrous. Just keeping to children, Gilbert reports: “Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering immensely. A large proportion are affected by the man-made malnourishment regime caused by the Israeli imposed blockage. Prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively.” And it gets worse as the report proceeds.

When Israel is on “good behavior,” more than two Palestinian children are killed every week, a pattern that goes back over 14 years. The underlying cause is the criminal occupation and the programs to reduce Palestinian life to bare survival in Gaza, while Palestinians are restricted to unviable cantons in the West Bank and Israel takes over what it wants, all in gross violation of international law and explicit Security Council resolutions, not to speak of minimal decency. And it will continue as long as it is supported by Washington and tolerated by Europe – to our everlasting shame

in full: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39071.htm

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:56 PM

7. 15,000 artillery rockets say this is bullshit.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #7)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:57 PM

8. According to you it's bullshit, to be clear. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #8)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:59 PM

9. According to you that is.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:03 PM

11. FYI, I did not write the OP you called bullshit.

Your argument of rockets proving the OP incorrect is in your mind a foregone conclusion.

Dugard and Chomsky disagree.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #11)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:08 PM

13. The truth speaks for itself, you speak for yourself.

I don't see any intersection.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #13)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:18 PM

14. I am certain we will not ever agree on much regarding this conflict. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #14)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:26 PM

15. I agree with you.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #15)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:43 PM

16. They agreed to a 72 hour truce..so there is that, we can agree that is good. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #16)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:54 PM

17. I wish I could agree, but I can't help being skeptical.

We'll have to wait and see what happens next.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #17)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:08 PM

18. ok, I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #18)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:21 PM

19. Hey, worth a try.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #16)

Fri Aug 1, 2014, 11:29 AM

20. Damn it, I'm sick of always being right.

Hamas is so fucking predictable.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #20)

Fri Aug 1, 2014, 01:44 PM

21. You are sick of being always right?.......

You are sick of being always right?.......Please mark your posts as 'sarcasm' when you are being sarcastic.

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Response to kayecy (Reply #21)

Fri Aug 1, 2014, 02:01 PM

22. You've obviously never had the experience, I've gotten used to it.

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #22)

Fri Aug 1, 2014, 02:10 PM

24. Let us take your original statement as an example.....

Let us take your original statement as an example.....You stated:

"15,000 artillery rockets say this is bullshit."

How exactly do 15,000 rockets make the article 'bullshit'?

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Response to Fozzledick (Reply #20)

Fri Aug 1, 2014, 02:10 PM

23. I would hold off on that for each side, myself..unconditional cease fire may explain more sooner

than later.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 PM

10. Palestinians 'facing a precipice,' UN Council told

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) -- Palestinians are "facing a precipice" in Gaza, the top UN refugee official there told the Security Council on Thursday in a strongly-worded appeal for action.

With more than 220,000 Palestinians already sheltering in UN facilities -- four times the number from the last Gaza conflict in 2008-2009 -- Philippe Krahenbuhl said he had reached breaking point.

"I believe the population is facing a precipice and appeal to the international community to take the steps necessary to address this extreme situation," the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA told the 15-member council.

"We have exceeded the tolerable limit that we can accommodate," Krahenbuhl said, adding that he was "alarmed" by the latest Israeli instructions to civilians to evacuate two areas in Gaza targeted for more attacks.


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=717267

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 10:08 PM

12. Gaza death toll surpasses that of Cast Lead as count hits 1,437

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian death toll in the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza surpassed that of Operation Cast Lead on Thursday as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks hit 1,437.



In the most recent lethal Israeli attack, an airstrike hit the al-Bayoumi family home in al-Nusairat refugee camp, killing at least 11 Palestinians and injuring at least 45.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 1,417 Palestinians were killed during Israel's infamous three-week offensive on Gaza in 2008-2009.

Some 5,303 people were injured during Cast Lead, while at least 8,265 have been injured throughout Operation Protective Edge, Israel's name for its current offensive.


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=717230

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 11:44 AM

25. Gaza's Bottle Rockets Why Hamas' Arsenal Wasn't Worth a War

Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel has occasionally been described by the international press in dire terms -- as a “non-stop onslaught,” an “unbearable” and “incessant” assault that is “paralyzing the country” and making life “intolerable” for ordinary Israelis. One CNN report even claimed that Israeli soldiers were collapsing from the psychological trauma of the explosions. It has made for a nasty portrait of Hamas and its military strategy, one that could even be read as a tacit endorsement of Israel’s stated goal of disarming the group with military force.

But a closer examination of Hamas’ military capabilities and goals reveals a very different picture. Most of Hamas’ arsenal is comprised of homemade rockets that are decidedly incapable of inflicting mass civilian casualties, flattening apartment blocks, or causing conflagrations that consume entire cities. “Hamas’ rockets can kill people and they have,” a counter-intelligence veteran of the U.S. CIA who spent his career monitoring Israeli and Palestinian military capabilities told me recently, “but compared to what the Israelis are using, the Palestinians are firing bottle rockets.” Far from justifying the ground campaign in Gaza, the nature of Hamas’ arsenal makes Israel’s ongoing military operation entirely counterproductive.

At the outset of the current conflict, according to Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas had 6,000 rockets deployed in Gaza, with an additional 5,000 deployed by its affiliate organizations, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Resistance Committees. Their combined arsenal is comprised of four rocket types: the short-range Qassam rocket with a range of 17.7 km (11 miles); the Grad rocket with a range of 48 km (30 miles); the M-75 with a range of 75 km (46 miles); and the M-302 with a range of 160 km (99 miles). The M-302 is by far the most sophisticated rocket in the arsenal, capable of reaching Haifa, which is 90 miles from Gaza City.

But even though Gaza has thousands of rockets, a large number of which can reach central Israel, Hamas’ arsenal poses only a negligible threat to Israel’s population. The vast majority of Hamas’ rockets are unsophisticated Qassam types that are manufactured in Gaza in primitive metal workshops filled with lathes and simple tools. Although these rockets are capable of carrying a warhead weighing 10–20 kg (22–44 pounds), they have no guidance system and contain only a modest propulsion unit.

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141698/mark-perry/gazas-bottle-rockets#cid=soc-twitter-at-snapshot-gaza_s_bottle_rockets-000000

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #25)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:29 PM

26. A person killed or a population threatened by 'negligible'

rockets is just as dead and/or traumatized. The degree of accuracy doesn't affect the threat.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #26)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:34 PM

27. Israel used proportional force in their reaction, is that what you're

claiming?

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #27)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:39 PM

29. No.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #29)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:41 PM

30. ok..thanks. n/t

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #26)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:38 PM

28. Unthinking reaction to provocations makes you predictable.

It is, both strategically and tactically, a flaw, a mistake.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #26)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:43 PM

31. So how many dead Palestinians......

So how many dead Palestinian civilians would it take for Israel to consider its reaction to random rocket fire was unreasonable?.........Clearly not 1,500.

How about 5,000?.......20,000?.......100,000?......or is the number unlimited?

Israel may not target civilians but when bombing Hamas, it takes little consideration of the risk to civilian Arabs and nothing like the care it would take if Jews were present..........Quite a racist policy if you think about it.

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Response to kayecy (Reply #31)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:48 PM

33. X Country may not target bombing civilians

but when bombing Y it takes little consideration of the risk to Y civilians and nothing like the care it would take if citizens of X were present. Quite a racist policy...

Generally speaking, a given country takes more care to not injure its own citizens than citizens of the country with whom they engaged in hostilities. Nothing 'racist' about it.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #33)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:28 PM

35. In the ratio of 1,500 enemy civilians to 3............

In the ratio of 1,500 to 3?.........I know of no Western state that believes that the deaths of three of its own nationals could justify it causing the deaths of 1,500 of its enemies civilians.

Can you think of any?

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Response to kayecy (Reply #35)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:41 PM

37. I was addressing the point you made in your

previous post re Israel not wanting to bomb its own citizens.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #26)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:47 PM

32. COLGATE" "The degree of accuracy doesn't affect the threat."

This is one of the most absurd comments ever posted on this conflict. And that is saying something.

Even a rudimentary understanding of statistics would lead you to a less absurd statement. Why do you think countries spend inordinate amounts of money to develop accurate military delivery systems? Accuracy is a threat multiplier.

You have no understanding of warfare or the difference between right and wrong.

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Response to BillZBubb (Reply #32)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:53 PM

34. I probably should have been accurate and said

"The degree of accuracy doesn't affect the threat as perceived by the person on the receiving end". I assumed it is was clear. Obviously it wasn't. Dead isn't any less dead when hit by an inaccurate piece of ordinance, nor is a person threatened by rockets coming in in a fairly haphazard fashion less fearful.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:29 PM

36. From another source:

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/180783/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked#

As the occupying power of the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Territories more broadly, Israel has an obligation and a duty to protect the civilians under its occupation. It governs by military and law enforcement authority to maintain order, protect itself and protect the civilian population under its occupation. It cannot simultaneously occupy the territory, thus usurping the self-governing powers that would otherwise belong to Palestinians, and declare war upon them. These contradictory policies (occupying a land and then declaring war on it) make the Palestinian population doubly vulnerable.

The precarious and unstable conditions in the Gaza Strip from which Palestinians suffer are Israel’s responsibility. Israel argues that it can invoke the right to self-defense under international law as defined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The International Court of Justice, however, rejected this faulty legal interpretation in its 2004 Advisory Opinion. The ICJ explained that an armed attack that would trigger Article 51 must be attributable to a sovereign state, but the armed attacks by Palestinians emerge from within Israel’s jurisdictional control. Israel does have the right to defend itself against rocket attacks, but it must do so in accordance with occupation law and not other laws of war. Occupation law ensures greater protection for the civilian population. The other laws of war balance military advantage and civilian suffering. The statement that “no country would tolerate rocket fire from a neighboring country” is therefore both a diversion and baseless.

Israel denies Palestinians the right to govern and protect themselves, while simultaneously invoking the right to self-defense. This is a conundrum and a violation of international law, one that Israel deliberately created to evade accountability.

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Response to Maedhros (Reply #36)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:49 PM

38. Right, and thanks for the addition to this thread. Israel wants total submission, there should

be no mistaking that goal..no resistance of any kind will be tolerated. Even when prisoners were
starving themselves in defiance, Israel's government wanted to force feed them.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #38)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 02:38 PM

39. And, in case the pro-Likud element wants to quibble over the Gaza occupation:

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/180783/five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked#

Israel argues that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. It then declared the Gaza Strip to be “hostile territory” and declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable. Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and thus remains the occupying power as defined by Article 47 of the Hague Regulations. To date, Israel maintains control of the territory’s air space, territorial waters, electromagnetic sphere, population registry and the movement of all goods and people.

Israel argues that the withdrawal from Gaza demonstrates that ending the occupation will not bring peace. Some have gone so far as to say that Palestinians squandered their opportunity to build heaven in order to build a terrorist haven instead. These arguments aim to obfuscate Israel’s responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank. As Prime Minister Netanyahu once explained, Israel must ensure that it does not “get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria…. I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

Palestinians have yet to experience a day of self-governance. Israel immediately imposed a siege upon the Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas routed Fatah in June 2007. The siege has created a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip. Inhabitants will not be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even the most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization explains that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation, it has created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in the long-term.

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Response to Maedhros (Reply #39)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 03:45 PM

40. Their actions have all been well documented, shameful that it has been allowed to continue. n/t

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