Author`s name Stephen Lendman

Israeli pillar of cloud war crimes

by Stephen Lendman

On May 8, B'Tselem published a report titled "Human Rights Violations During Operation Pillar of Defense: 14 - 21 November 2012."

Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud (aka Cloud Column/Pillar of Defense) was naked, premeditated aggression. Previous articles discussed it.

"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire; to give them the light; to go by day and night:" Exodus 13.21.

Israel apparently believes Almighty God sanctifies cold-blooded murder. World community inaction lets Israel get away with crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. 

Naked aggression is called self-defense. Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism. Claiming either doesn't wash. Israel does it repeatedly. Slaughtered civilians bear testimony to imperial crimes.

On November 14, Israel murdered Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari. A missile struck his car. He was well-known and respected. Many considered him Hamas' most important military and political leader.

Hours before his assassination, he concluded a truce agreement draft. It included ways to establish ceasefires in case of future flare-ups. He was working with Egypt to establish permanent truce. 

Israel killed him to prevent it. Peace and stability are deplored. Conflict and violence are prioritized. Victims are blamed for Israeli crimes.

Intensified attacks followed Jabari's assassination. Targets included civilian men, women, children, the elderly and infirm. They were sitting ducks in besieged Gaza. No place was safe.

Israel, not Hamas, initiated conflict. Hamas, not Israel, responded defensively. Gazan casualties were largely civilians. Many were women and children.

Occupation harshness terrorizes Palestinians. Besieged Gazans suffer most. Israeli attacks are strategically timed. Media scoundrels don't explain.

Around 170 Palestinians died. Over 1,000 were injured. Nearly half were women and children. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed.

They included 10 health centers, 35 schools, 2 universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, 1 UNWRA food distribution center, 8 government buildings, 14 police/security stations, 5 banks, 34 vehicles, 3 youth clubs, 3 cemeteries, and 2 bridges.

B'Tselem said:

"Four times as many uninvolved Palestinian civilians were killed in the final four days of the operation as during the first four days."

Harm caused civilians "challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was 'surgical' and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians."

Rockets fired from Gaza killed four Israeli civilians. Mortar shells killed two Israeli soldiers.

Israel flagrantly violated international law. It does so repeatedly. Its officials wrongfully blamed Palestinian resistance fighters for responding in self-defense.

Months ago, B'Tselem requested information on specific instances of lawless Israeli conduct. "No substantial information was provided…."

Whitewash is official policy. Israel gets away with murder. Victims are wrongfully blamed. The pattern repeats. Premeditated war crimes follow.

International law is clear. It's inviolable. Israel violates it with impunity. World leaders ignore repeated breaches. 

Collective punishment is official policy. Besieged Gazans suffer most. B'Tselem addressed eight days of conflict. Nothing more was investigated. 

Pillar of Cloud was planned months in advance. Joint US/Israeli military exercises preceded it. They were the largest joint war games in Israeli history. They were strategically timed. 

On October 21, 2012, they began. They continued for about three weeks. They overlapped US elections. They concluded about 24 hours before Pillar of Cloud.

Washington and Israel partner directly or indirectly in all regional wars. They do so in lesser ones. The Pentagon maintains command and control operations in Israel. 

Pillar of Cloud was a joint US/Israeli operation. Media scoundrels don't explain. B'Tselem's investigation didn't address it. It's an "Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories." 

It doesn't examine geopolitical issues. It understands international law. It knows Israel is a serial violator. Much of what it reports explains.

Pillar of Cloud caused enormous suffering. The fallout continues. Ceasefire terms left much to be desired. Fundamental injustices weren't resolved. 

Conflict ending memorandum of understanding terms and language left disturbing wiggle room. Hindsight showed how much.

Israel agreed to cease air, land, and sea hostilities, as well as stop targeted killings. Palestinian resistance groups agreed to halt rocket and other attacks.

Modestly eased blockade restrictions were too insignificant to matter. Gaza's siege continues. Free movement's denied. Israeli attacks continue. Palestinian casualties follow. Civilians by far suffer most.

Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. Oslo left major issues unresolved. Over 19 years later, they still are. They're too vital to ignore. They never should have been put off in the first place. 

They included borders, Palestinian sovereignty, the right of return, settlements, and East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital among others. 

Expect nothing to change until Israel and Washington are held fully accountable. They're imperial partners. They're responsible for decades of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Both nations are warrior states. Peace and stability are deplored. Conflicts persist. Ending them remains nowhere in sight. Palestine's liberating struggle continues.

A Final Comment

On May 9, Maan News reported that Israel "found no incidents warranting criminal investigations into the conduct of its soldiers during" Operation Pillar of Cloud. 

B'Tselem and other human rights groups accused Israel of war crimes. 

IDF officials claimed civilian deaths "were as a result of unintended damage connected to an attack against military targets, or alternatively were as a result of operational errors, where civilians were mistakenly identified as terrorist operatives." 

Clear evidence proves otherwise. IDF officials lied. Whitewash is official policy. War criminals remain unpunished. Justice is long overdue.

Stephen Lendman