Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reality of the long-awaited Security Council resolution

Less than an hour ago, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution. The international community has been calling for such a resolution since Israel began its offensive against Gaza on December 27 – 14 days ago. Members of the UN Security Council passed the resolution unanimously with the exception of the United States, who abstained.

The resolution calls for an "immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire" in Gaza. It gives no timeline. Israel’s offensive is not specifically condemned, nor is Hamas rocket fire mentioned – although the resolution reportedly condemns all acts of violence against civilians and all acts of “terrorism.”

Legally, the resolution is binding. However, the United Nations has no mechanism with which to enforce this resolution or any other – a fact that is well-known and has often been cited as one of the many reasons the UN is ultimately ineffective at best. Due to this lack of enforcement, it would not be surprising for Israel to simply ignore this resolution as it has ignored other UN resolutions in the past. Or perhaps Israel will use the lack of a timeline as an excuse to continue its offensive.

I do not dispute – and have yet to hear any who do – that Hamas, and others, have fired rockets into Israel. I do, however, challenge Israel’s statement that it is fighting a defensive war. Israel is one of the strongest military powers in the world. It is engaging, via ground and air, in an offensive attack against an unarmed and unorganized civilian population. All it takes to determine that something is very clearly uneven here is a look at the numbers: over the past 14 days, more than 760 Palestinians have been killed (and 3,000 more injured) and in the same period 13 Israelis have been killed (there are no numbers available on how many Israelis have been injured).

Of those 13 Israelis, only 3 were civilians. The others were soldiers, one of whom was killed before Israel’s offensive began.

What about the Palestinians? Of the more than 760 killed so far, over 200 were children. Come, now, Israel – where are your militants?

A few days ago, Israeli forces bombed a UN school, killing more than 40 Palestinians. The world was outraged – but Israel claimed the strike was in retaliation, as were other strikes against UN schools. Israeli military sources claimed that missiles were fired from within the school and that Hamas militants were using refugees in the building as “human shields.”

Today, Qatar-based Al Jazeera announced that a UN investigation had stated no militants were in the building at the time it was bombed. Where is this piece of information in Western media? Apparently, non-existent.

Any of you reading this may check these facts for yourselves. Read Al Jazeera and BBC and CNN. Find the articles and the information and decide for yourself how the facts are being portrayed – but however they are portrayed, the facts are there. Israel promised a 3-hour ceasefire yesterday in order to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza – and then fired on the convoy, killing one Palestinian driver and injuring two others. Decide for yourselves whether rockets shot from southern Lebanon hit a retirement centre or a nursing home in Israel – and decide whether it matters.

The world has denounced this offensive, although it has adopted softer language than that many would have preferred. Still, the United States remains silent. Motionless. Neither the outgoing president nor the incoming one have spoken strongly – Israel’s timing, it seems, was perfect. However, even if Israel had acted at a time when the administration in the United States was not undergoing change, can we assume at all that the outcome would be different?

Again, I ask Israel, where are your militants? Where is your proof? And of the world, I beg – who will stop this massacre? For what can the murder of innocent civilians, of children, be, if it is not a massacre? The United Nations cannot stop it. The authority to do so, then, must come from somewhere else.

Wake up, America. Remember that your tax dollars are helping to fund the murder of hundreds of children. If America truly is a nation that stands united, let us do so, but let us stand against the murder of innocents. This does not mean we will stand with terrorists, but that we may condemn the injustices committed by both sides. But first we must learn what it is we are supporting and why we should reconsider what to this point has been unconditional support.

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