This is beyond words. An Israeli soldier recounts what his marching orders were in the invasion of Zeitoun:
“Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun” – that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days.
According to Israeli soldiers who took part in the three-week offensive, the destruction of the area, a known Hamas stronghold, was designed to send a wider message to Gazans. “We pounded Zeitoun into the ground,” an Israeli soldier who was deployed in the area, told The Times.
Now we can understand why so many children were killed in Gaza. This is a massive war crime. This reminds me of the words of Kissinger with regards to the bombing of Cambodia when he said:
Anything that flies, on anything that moves.
The words “war crime” together are a strange combination for me anyway. It’s like saying “murder crime.”
The stories that have emerged from Zeitoun have been some of the most shocking of the war. The Samuni family said they lost 29 members after soldiers forced them all into one building that subsequently came under fire. Survivors said that the initial shelling killed 22 people, while others slowly bled to death after being denied medical care for nearly three days.
Others, including the Helw and Abu Zohar families, have similar accounts of watching loved ones dying of their wounds and coming under fire after emerging from their homes carrying white flags.
Now one can understand how these crimes occurred.
“Having interviewed dozens of victims and witnesses and, having examined the ballistic evidence from north to south, we are convinced that Israel did not do everything possible to minimise civilians’ harm and death,” said Fred Abrahams, of Human Rights Watch.
“The rules of engagement were exceedingly loose, and they dropped the bar on the laws of war. This allowed civilian casualties to rise.”
I’ve got to go back to this “war crime” issue. The International Criminal Court describes war crimes thusly:
- Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, such as:
- Willful killing, or causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
- Torture or inhumane treatment
- Unlawful wanton destruction or appropriation of property
- Forcing a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of a hostile power
- Depriving a prisoner of war of a fair trial
- Unlawful deportation, confinement or transfer
- Taking hostages
- The following acts as part of an international conflict:
- Directing attacks against civilians
- Directing attacks against humanitarian workers or UN peacekeepers
- Killing a surrendered combatant
- Misusing a flag of truce
- Settlement of occupied territory
- Deportation of inhabitants of occupied territory
- Using poison weapons
- Using civilians as shields
- Using child soldiers
- The following acts as part of a non-international conflict:
- Murder, cruel or degrading treatment and torture
- Directing attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers or UN peacekeepers
- Taking hostages
- Summary execution
- Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy
You can find information about the Geneva Conventions, which are the basis for what is considered a war crime, here:
Still, it is exceedingly odd to me that we have rules that govern wartime behavior. It seems to me that the whole affair ought to be called a massive crime and be done with it. I can think of very little good that ever comes out of war. I agree with the framers of the Nuremberg principles who stated that the waging of an aggressive war is:
essentially an evil thing…to initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
I pray for the day that these crimes may no more polute our planet.