If you’re not an expert on International Law but if Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza looked like war crimes to you, your questions have now been answered.
War crimes: this is what Human Rights Watch has concluded in its recent report.
Before we proceed, I’d like to clarify that ‘war crimes’ is not an accusatory or shaming concept that one can – or should – be throwing around.
I talk about it in my podcast episode on Gaza: the questions we have to ask regarding Israel’s conduct, even if we accept that the occupier is defending itself from the people it is occupying.
Just like International Law is real, war crimes are real in that we have an actual definition for them. This is exactly what HRW was using when investigating what has been happening in Gaza and Israel in May.
In their report, HRW remind us of International Law principles that guide conflicts:
I highly encourage you to read this article and watch the video that HRW has produced. It’s not an easy video to watch, but, in the end, it’s not about our discomfort, is it?
It’s about identifying what happened in Gaza and pointing to the large scale injustice and suffering that it all has caused.
It’s about making the people of Gaza just a bit more seen.
It’s about turning the people of Gaza from – a concept that award-wining journalist John Pilger likes to use – unpeople to people.
(This is what a recent photo piece by The Guardian on the traumatised children of Gaza tries to do, excruciatingly beautifully.)
If you’re still unsure you’d like to speak out against a crippling 14-year-old siege on Gaza, against bombings of civilian infrastructure, and wiping of entire families out, I encourage you to do so.
Because speaking out against war crimes – on both sides! – shouldn’t be difficult.
And, especially when we talk about Palestine, it is very much needed.
Talking about privilege can be uncomfortable, it can easily make us defensive, and it does have the power to prevent us from taking significant action. That’s why, we have to talk about it!
Although my articles didn’t stop, my podcast did take a needed break.
Now, I’m back for the second season of The Exploded Head. In its intro episode, I review what I’ve talked about already and give you some ideas of what I’ll be covering in the near future.
Seven years after Protective Edge, we find Gaza and its children living in conditions that are even more dire than before. The trauma inflicted by Israel’s attacks and by its total siege on the region continues. In fact, it is unfolding as we speak.
The Taliban has taken power in Afghanistan. It finally happened and it’s terrifying. “Kabul has fallen,” the press tells us.
But what’s next? How do we assess what happened, learn from it, and find the best ways to help the Afghan people now?
Dehumanisation is a prerequisite for some of the darkest things we’ve witnessed in our history. Slavery, genocides, torture, mass killings – just to name a few, and it’s one heavy list already. That’s why, we have to learn to notice it and to call it out.
The immigration policy in Lithuania seems to have taken a sharp turn towards limiting the rights of asylum seekers. Our humanity is being tested – and it’s very shameful to see we’re not doing well.
On Pride Day – and Pride Month – let’s not forget that no society is truly great if it is not equally accepting and great to everyone. The LGBTQ rights situation around the world might be improving but there’s still a long way to go.
The protests in and outside of Palestine continue. Why? Because not much has changed, and nothing has improved. We’re seeing the same colonial practices, the same occupation, the same brutality by Israeli forces. In Jerusalem, throughout the West Bank, and all over historic Palestine. I encourage you to speak out against all of this.
Gaza might not be bombed anymore yet so much remains. The blockade, the occupation with all of its mechanism, apartheid, and so many questions.
One of these questions sounds simple but it so important to ask:
Who can hold Israel accountable?
Israel’s bombing of Gaza has stopped but that doesn’t change the main point here: the occupation stays, its mechanisms are active, and Israel has announced its plan to punish the people who have spoken out against its aggression.
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