Tuesday, December 22

Finkelstein: Livni 'proud' of Gaza 'war crimes'

Goldstone Report is an accurate reflection of what happened in Gaza

Prominent Jewish-American professor says Gaza rockets were 'symbolic resistance' to Israeli siege.

LONDON - Prominent Jewish-American Professor Norman Finkelstein accused Israel of perpetrating "war crimes" in Gaza through its ongoing siege of the Strip and its war at the turn of the year.

His accusation came within an international conference titled, "UNRWA and Future of Palestinian Refugees", organized in London Wednesday.

Finkelstein said the causes and effects of the war on Gaza are now coming to light, both in the Goldstone Report and in the recent arrest warrant issued by the UK for Tzipi Livni, who stated that she was "proud of everything she had done in Gaza".

Briefly assessing the history to the siege, Finkelstein noted that the ceasefire that was agreed between Israel and Hamas June 2008 was broken by Israel, not Hamas: whilst Hamas stopped its rocket attacks, Israel did not lift its illegal blockade on Gaza and launched a night raid on Gaza, whilst the eyes of the worlds were watching 4th November 2008 US elections.

Six Hamas resistance fighters were killed, provoking Hamas to respond, which it did by resuming rocket attacks. Finkelstein emphasised that this is not violence so much as "symbolic resistance".

He quoted one Palestinian who referred to the rocket attacks as "modest home made rockets are a cry of protest to the world".

Finkelstein commented that if we are going to condemn Hamas for these rocket attacks, we must suggest how else they should resist the pressure placed on them by persistent Israeli attacks, subjugation and persistent blockades that drain the small area of land.

If we cannot provide an alternative, we cannot criticise, he argued.

Finkelstein emphasised the disproportionate nature of the Israeli attacks.

The ratios of death and destruction are striking: 100 Palestinians were killed to 1 Israeli; 600 Palestinian civilians were killed to 1 Israeli; and 6000 Palestinian homes were destroyed to 1 Israeli home, he explained.

On this basis, Finkelstein said, it cannot be called a war as a minimum condition of war is that there are at least two sides firing at each other. Israeli soldiers themselves have stated that Israel used "insane amounts of firepower."

Israel's claims that the extent of devastation and death was due to Hamas using human shields and purposely positioning themselves in dense civilian areas has been undermined by reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Dugard Committee and the Goldstone Report which have found no evidence to support this claim.

The Goldstone Report stated that the siege was a "deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population".

Finkelstein notes that we can only assume that Goldstone, a self-confessed Zionist and a supporter of Israel, would have no interest in unfairly criticising Israel.

The world must assume therefore that what Goldstone has reported is an accurate reflection of abuse and apportionment of responsibility for what happened in Gaza, he added.

Finkelstein noted that Goldstone Report has, for the first time, put the assessment of human rights abuses first in this conflict, rather than the attention being persistently focussed on the "peace process".

The truth about the ongoing human rights abuses committed by Israel against Palestinians must be at the forefront of campaigning, stressed Finkelstein.

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