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Israel Above the Law: Collective Punishment

A stunning video which documents living conditions in Gaza. A couple of days ago three Gaza children burned to death when a candle fell onto a mattress and started a fire. After watching the video above, you will understand why this happened. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has been going on now for 10 years. A new hashtag, #10YearBlockade, has been started on Twitter.

Imposing what is in effect a humanitarian catastrophe upon 1.8 million people is just one of many crimes Israel gets away with as the “international community” looks the other way. The Press TV documentary features comments by Ban Ki-moon, who voices criticism of the blockade and calls for it to end…but yet it still goes on. As the documentary title states it, “Israel is above the law.”

Here is a bit from Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer regarding the deaths of the three children:

L-SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza – The toddlers’ bed stands in the middle of the ash-scorched and smoke-stained room. Next to it lie the bodies of Yousra, aged three, Rahaf, aged two, and Naser al-Hindi, six months old, who all burnt to death here.

The three bodies are distorted and unrecognisable. A few scorched toys are scattered around them while their heartbroken father, Mohammed al-Hindi, looks on in shock, hardly able to accept they are really his children.

Walking through the once colourful small apartment in al-Shati, one of the poorest refugee camps in Gaza, it is almost impossible to tell which room was once the kitchen, the bedroom and the toilet because everything has melted into one.

When the building caught fire late on Friday night, no one living nearby was able to break in, with neighbours eventually smashing a hole through the wall in a failed attempt to rescue the children.

The deaths of the children has enraged local residents who believe that the fire is a cruel consequence of the impact of the decade-long blockade by Israel and Egypt and a local power struggle between Hamas and Fatah which has made living conditions increasingly intolerable.

The incident has also reminded Gazans of the case of a family in the eastern city of Shejayeh who were burnt to death in a fire caused by a candle three years ago.

Mahmood Dhier, 32, his wife Samar, and their four children, Mahmoud, six, Nabil, five, Farah, four, and Qamar, four months, all died in the blaze. 

You can click here to read the rest of the story.

One other thing I’ll mention–the trial for Elior Azaria, the Israeli soldier caught on video murdering a Palestinian back in March, began today in Tel Aviv. Azaria has seen his charges downgraded to manslaughter, and there have been widespread protests all over Israel calling for his release. He was in fact released temporarily–so that he might spend a nice, quiet Passover holiday at home.

An ABC News report on the trial has an interesting quote from the indictment. Here is what they say:

In its indictment, read aloud in the courtroom, the military prosecution said Azaria “acted in contrast to the rules of opening fire and without any operational justification.” It said the Palestinian, Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif, “did not present a clear and present threat” and that “the defendant caused the death of the terrorist al-Sharif illegally.”

It would not appear, if the Israeli prosecutors are referring to the victim of the crime as “the terrorist,” that that they are trying very hard to win a conviction. Moreover, their indictment would seem to have the situation backwards. Under international law, people have a right to resist occupation. The man Abdel al-Sharif allegedly stabbed is an occupation soldier. The alleged stabbing took place in the occupied West Bank. Is not the man who fired the bullet which killed him the real terrorist?

Azaria being tried in a military court in Tel Aviv is about the equivalent of Israel investigating itself for war crimes, but this is what we’ve all come to expect from a country that is above the law.

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