Israel Criminal State: Israelis

As Tel Aviv struggles to contain the international aftermath of the UN damning report over the deadly offensive in Gaza Strip, an inner storm is evolving with Israeli rights and political activists slamming their own country as a criminal state and calling for punishing it.

"It’s time that the Israel and international societies start to treat Israel like a criminal state and a serial violator of international laws and Palestinian rights,” left-wing activist Yonatan Pollak told Yediot Ahronot daily on Wednesday, September 16.

Contrary to outraged official Israeli response to the UN fact-finding mission report issued Tuesday, which accused Israeli army of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead, Israeli rights activists welcomed the report and called for accountability.

Pollak, who testified before the Goldstone committee, affirmed that the official claims of bias are unfounded and called for stern international sanctions against “criminal” Israel.

The international society should “impose on it a boycott, sanctions and the withdrawal of investments, just as was the case with the apartheid regime in South Africa." 

Majd Bader, of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, said the report should be a wake up call for Israel.

“Israel should wake up and take it upon itself to investigate the claims," said Bader.

Balad party chairman, Jamal Zahalka, believes that in the light of the report, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak should be sent to International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague immediately.

"The conclusion from the report," he added, "is that [there should be] an international trial for those responsible for war crimes in Gaza starting with the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff, down to operational commanders.

"It is not possible that someone who causes the death of more than 1,000 civilians will not pay the price."

Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the Gaza onslaught eight months ago.

While Israel claims 300 civilians were killed, a Gaza observer group has said over 900 of the dead were innocent civilians.

Frantic Campaign 

Israel launched a frantic diplomatic campaign to prevent the ramifications of the UN report.

The salvos opened at home come as Israel launched a frantic diplomatic campaign to prevent the UN report from being brought before the Security Council and from there to the ICC.

"The goal is to avoid a slippery slope which would lead Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague," a senior Israeli staffer told Haaretz.

The Hague-based court investigates war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed on the territory of, or by a national of a state.

A coalition of 350 European and Arab civil society organizations has already filed a lawsuit with the ICC against Israel over war crimes in Gaza.

On September 29, the UN Human Rights Council, which appointed Goldstone, will be convening in Geneva for a special session on the report.

Israeli officials said they expect Arab states will begin to prepare a draft resolution which will call for the report to be transferred to the UN Security Council.

In their worst-case scenario, the Security Council could decide to transfer the matter to the ICC, which could issue international arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials who were involved in the military onslaught.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman, President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have already started telephoning their counterparts around the world to handle the report ramifications.

They will focus on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – but will also give priority to members of the European Union, because of their influence in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Israeli leaders will ask their counterparts to express disagreement with the report and to oppose any use of it as the basis for anti-Israel resolutions.

"It will be a long diplomatic and legal campaign," said a senior Israeli staffer handling the Goldstone report.

"We will involve our friends around the world, especially the United States, to prevent Israel’s isolation."


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