Just International

This is not a Hollywood drama but a real saga of cries, death and destruction

By Dr Arun Mitra

The news that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, has been invited to address joint session of US Congress has come at a time when the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking warrants against Netanyahu and other Israeli and Hamas leaders for “war crimes.”  This invitation gives him the status of an honoured guest for which he is very excited as per the reports. As head of the government of Israel he is responsible for the death and misery of thousands of hapless children and women.  Inviting him to address the Congress session has exposed the hypocrisy of the US administration that has been talking of humanitarian assistance to the war affected people on one side and supplying huge cache of arms to Israel in the name of self-defence from Hamas.

No wonder Israel has condemned the ICC judgment.  The US President Joe Biden himself termed the ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants as “outrageous” stating that the US “will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he fundamentally rejects the ICC Prosecutor equivalence between Israel and Hamas and that the United States has been clear since well before the current conflict that that ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter (1).

It is interesting to note that human rights attorney Amal Clooney who is among the experts who advised the ICC prosecutor to seek the arrest warrants, in a statement said “I served on this panel because I believe in the rule of law and the need to protect civilian lives. The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict,” The human rights lawyer who happens to be wife of actor George Clooney wrote of her participation in a letter on the website of the couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice (2).

The decision to invite Benjamin Netanyahu has been rejected in strong words by Bernie Sanders who is American politician and senior US senator from Vermont and who is himself Jewish. The ICC is right, Sanders has said. “Netanyahu is a war criminal. He should not be invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. I certainly will not attend.”

It is well known that Netanyahu promoted Hamas to counter moderate Palestinian leadership and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In an article in the Times of Israel published on 8th October 2023, Tal Schneider, a Political Correspondent at The Times of Israel said that for years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces. Various governments headed by Benjamin Netanyahu took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — bringing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group. The idea was to prevent Abbas — or anyone else in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank government — from advancing toward the establishment of a Palestinian state says Tal Schneider(3).

Now Israel has rejected US proposal for a ceasefire and end to war in Gaza. US President Biden has said the new proposal for a Gaza truce is “a roadmap to an enduring ceasefire and the release of all hostages”, adding that “it’s time to end this war.” At least 36,379 Palestinians have been killed and 82,407 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since 7th October 2023. Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement following Biden’s remarks, claiming that Israel is still committed to “the elimination of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities,” in addition to bringing home all hostages.

Netanyahu’s talk of finishing Hamas is a farce. Release of hostages could have been done long back through negotiations. Defying all the international appeals the Israeli Defence Forces have attacked Rafah creating havoc in the area. As a result there is unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel is continuously ignoring international opinion for free transport of humanitarian assistance to the war affected people. The UN has warned several times that there is spread of hunger and diseases. Situation is getting worse in the absence of medical aid as Israel has destroyed most of the hospitals, which is a complete violation of international conventions. All this points to Netanyahu’s bent of mind to annihilate the Palestinians.

Experts warn that 1.7 million people are internally displaced, mostly women and 600,000 children in the Rafah area alone, and they need food assistance, shelter, healthcare, education, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Till now “189 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff has been killed by Israel since 7 October 2023—the highest number of UN staff killed in any conflict since the UN’s founding in 1945.” Multiple UNRWA facilities have been targeted, besieged and demolished by the Israeli military, in apparent violation of the principle of the inviolability of UN premises, the experts said (4).

The UN has repeatedly warned that at this existential time for millions of Palestinians in Gaza, who are enduring famine coupled with unfathomable humanitarian conditions, UN operations and facilities must be protected.

It is time for the global community to act and develop broad vision. World has suffered too much when we get carried away and develop hatred towards others on the basis of ethnic or religious identities and even become ruthless towards others forgetting all humanitarian values. We have the examples of death of 800,000 people in Rawanda in tribal violence in a matter of just 100 days. South Asia has seen killings on communal lines several times. World community was unable to save Jews and others from Nazi crimes but the times have changed. We can save the people of Gaza or anywhere else during internal or external strife.

Our inaction can be disastrous. The Military Industrial Complex has its own interests of making profit. But the present day world has its moral duty to stop wars anywhere otherwise this would have serious consequences including use of nuclear weapons. It is duty of all the countries, who are signatories to the UN Human Rights Charter to come forward for restoration of peace in Gaza. Let the peace lovers world over rise to the occasion to save our planet from another catastrophe.

Dr Arun Mitra is a Practicing ENT Surgeon in Ludhiana, Punjab.

3  June 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

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