Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rights Groups Condemn U.S. Role in Gaza Conflict

Ida Wahlstrom | One World, January 9, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (OneWorld.net) - Decrying U.S. “complicity” in what they say amounts to Israeli violations of international law, human rights groups are calling on the U.S. government to demand an immediate cessation of indiscriminate violence against civilians and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza inhabitants.

A woman and child sit next to a bag of Mercy Corps food aid in Gaza, 2006. The flow of humanitarian assistance, including food aid, into Gaza has been severely limited by the Israeli attack. © Mercy Corps

A woman and child sit next to a bag of Mercy Corps food aid in Gaza, 2006. The flow of humanitarian assistance, including food aid, into Gaza has been severely limited by the Israeli attack. © Mercy Corps“The Israeli airstrikes represent serious violations of international law — including the Geneva Conventions and a range of international humanitarian law — and the U.S. is complicit in all of it,” wrote Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies as the Israeli attacks on Gaza began in late December.

Specifically, “Israel’s lethal attack today [Dec. 28] on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military support of the United States,” charged Bennis, detailing the types of weapons — such as F-16 fighter planes and Apache attack helicopters — and the amount of military aid — $3 billion a year — Israel receives from Washington.

“The use and threat of use of the U.S. veto in the [United Nations] Security Council and the reliance on raw power to pressure diplomats and governments to soften their criticism of Israel all serve to protect Israel and keep it from being held accountable by the international community,” added Bennis.

The advocacy group U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is among those that agree that Israel’s assault on Gaza “would not be possible” without U.S. support in the form of military assistance and diplomatic backing at the United Nations.

Similarly, human rights monitor Amnesty International has voiced serious concern about “attacks directed at or resulting in harm to unarmed civilians,” the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and the significant role the U.S. alliance with Israel plays in the conflict.

“Without diminishing the responsibility of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians, the U.S. government must not ignore Israel’s disproportionate response and the longstanding policies which have brought the Gaza Strip to the brink of humanitarian disaster,” wrote Amnesty International Senior Deputy Executive Director Curt Goering in an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week.

Highlighting the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and noting the disproportionate impact violence has on women and children, the women-for-peace group CODEPINK is encouraging concerned U.S. citizens to take action.

In a letter to supporters today, the group decried yesterday’s Senate resolution — passed by unanimous voice vote — “recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

“There was nothing in this one-sided legislation…that will help the 1.5 million Gazans who are currently under siege,” the group charged, adding: “There is nothing in this bill that will do anything to support ‘the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.’”

With a similar vote expected in the House of Representatives soon, CODEPINK is rallying its supporters to urge their members of Congress to oppose any legislation that doesn’t call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as unimpeded access for humanitarian aid into Gaza and a lifting of Israel’s blockade of vital household goods like cooking oil and baking flour.

OneWorld.net: Latest from Groups Inside Gaza — What’s Happening & How You Can Help

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