The U.N.’s Rapporteur on Prospects for Gaza

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Berkeley–March 10th–As we are approaching the sixth anniversary (Mar. 16th) of the martyrdom of the angelic Rachel Corrie while as she was attempting to stop an Israeli bulldozer from laying waste a Palestinian home, my fellow Berkeley activist, Tristan Andrson, was just battered into probable brain death on the 13th of this month in a demonstration on the West Bank.

Two weeks ago, the former United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, withdrew his name to be President Obama’s Intelligence Chief because of his candor regarding Israel.  The malevolent attacks by AIPAC (the America Israel Public Affairs Committee) and others of the American-Jewish community’s extreme right-wing and those in Congress under their financial thumb convinced him that he could not remain politically independent enough to even serve his own homeland honestly!

Further, another American, on March 26 2008, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (U.N.H.R.C.) appointed Dr, Richard Falk to a six-year term as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories since 1967.”

In May 2008, Israel refused to allow Falk to even enter the Jewish State (although he is an American of Jewish heritage) or its so-called “occupied [Palestine] territories.”  On December 14th last — less than a fortnight before the horrendous attack upon the Strip, Richard Falk arrived again at Ben Gurion Airport with a staff delegation from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights headquarters in Switzerland on an official fact-finding delegation. Although on diplomatic status, the Israeli guards forcibly detained him for thirty hours, before deporting him back to Geneva (on December 15th).

Falk, who was a highly respected retired Professor of International jurisprudence before his diplomatic work with the United Nations, began by describing the devastation and that went beyond the initial results of the intensification of violence.  He exclaimed that “We are all complicit” in the crimes of (West) Jerusalem!  Tel Aviv’s aggression against Gaza “Shocked the world” because they were against a defenseless people.  “It is difficult for finding the right word” for the incident, in that  “It was not a War because it was so one-sided…[the] Language…exchanged criminality for politics!”

Especially, the civilian population was not permitted to flee the war zone.  “Every Palestinian  was denied the right [to become a] refugee….”  This is a policy of Israeli “…War criminality” in that it trapped non-combatants from the ferocity of its assailing force.

“The aggression…was [more questionable] than [in its] proportionality” alone.  The illegal targeted assassinations are cases in point.  To understand the Hamas government’s position (which is never discussed in the mainstream North American media), is that they had reached a six-month truce on June 19th, 2008 with the IDF (Israel Defense Force).  Part of the terms of the agreement with the modern “Samara” and Egypt was that they would open their blockade of the modern “Philistine” nation.  Even after the end of the most recent hostilities, Israel and the government in Cairo have refused to do so – despite the Obama government’s most recent directive to the Israel Defense Force political masters to allow a free flow of mandated humanitarian necessities.

Under International Law, Professor Falk, repeated that the Israelis’ blockade of a vulnerable populace was a form of Collective Punishment, which is both a war crime and  a crime against humanity.  (It is clear this was policy besides, and went up to the Jewish Cabinet.)

The Israeli Defense Force’s incursion of last November 4th (where even children were deliberately massacred at point blank range by rifle shots to the head) in effect ended the peace.    

At this point the miniscule defensive rocket fire ended, and increased in proportion to the IDF’s aggression against the territory. 

Falk affirmed that it was not Hamas but Islamic Jihad, who were – and are – responsible for the projectiles looped into southern Israel, and are beyond Gaza City’s authority.  (Recently, Hamas itself denied it was responsible for the projectiles.)   Still, the Gazans were willing to renew the original Armistice if the blockade was finally lifted.  Instead the IDF invaded, and even now after the most recent violence Tel Aviv and Cairo have refuse to open the borders.

Richard Falk presented a principle of law that I have not heard presented in over Gaza.  The Denial of diplomacy for this conflict is a Crime against Peace. 

He asserted, as your author has, that we have to treat Hamas as political actors, and, further, Hamas wishes to have its agency recognized.  Falk, further, contended that they have to be accepted as they are; i.e., not to be political demands upon them.  Falk, additionally, stated that Gaza City desires an extended ceasefire. Even though, the “Philistine” capitol upheld their public policy that they would never acknowledge a Jewish State as a neighbor, Dr. Falk believes they would accept Israel if the latter could make an evenhanded political peace with the Palestinians as equivalent neighbors.

What were Israel’s thoughts for this recent slaughter?  One was to tame Hamas for the more pliable Fatah.  Further, it was a signal to Iran.  “The Gazans were no more than a proxy” victim, he argued.  In effect, the Israeli Establishment wished to demoralize the whole Palestinian nation!

Falk presented disturbing insights:  The two-State solution is being undermined.  I personally have heard and read Palestinian intellectuals state that the one-State solution is becoming more of an option because of the expansion of the settlements and house demolitions in the Territories.  Further, the ethnic-cleansing of Arab East Jerusalem itself.  

The Rapporteur felt Israel lost any moral rectitude left to it:  “The outcomes of many [other] wars…were not determined on the battlefield, but…” in the public’s perception!


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