Visit to Gaza – UN Press release

By Richard Falk

I recently completed a mission to the Gaza Strip, entering by way of Egypt at the Rafah Crossing; as I am now in Doha attending the final days of the UN Climate Change negotiations, I have had no chance to write a post describing the moving and difficult circumstances that confront the people of Gaza, and the hopes and disappointments that followed the ceasefire that followed the Israeli onslaught; there are concerns about whether it will be fully implemented in accordance with expectations, and if not, whether events will move toward renewed cross-border violence. There are new hopes and complexities on two further fronts: the aftermath of Palestinian success in being confirmed as a non-member state by the General Assembly on November 29, and the new priority being accorded to reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. More than ever since Hamas assumed governing authority in June 2007, foreign leaders have been visiting Gaza, according Hamas an upgraded diplomatic status

Here is my report

2 Responses to “Visit to Gaza – UN Press release”

  • Ken Kelso says:

    The hypocrisy of Prof. Falk’s report on Gaza is breathtaking. Reading through paragraph after paragraph condemning Israel, one is astonished by the total omission of any mention of the more than 8,000 rockets Hamas and its terrorist cohorts have rained down on southern Israel over a period of years, an average of three attacks every day, forcing more than one million Israeli civilians—men, women and children—huddling in shelters and living in fear. Not one word! The Report denies a central fact of the incident. In defending its citizens who had been under constant attack for a long period of time, Israel was exercising a right and responsibility incumbent on every government on the planet.
    Is Prof. Falk blind? He denies that he distorts facts. Indeed, when anyone suggests that he does, and presents evidence to support the assessment, the professor denounces it as personal assault on his integrity (which is not tolerated on this blog). But anyone with access to CNN or BBC can see that his Report on Gaza is simply untrue.
    The aforementioned is the most blatant example of Prof. Falk’s mind-boggling one-sidedness, which includes a proclivity for revising history with astonishing impunity. But it’s by no means the only one. He writes: “Experience has shown that Israel fails to meet its international obligation to promptly and impartially investigate its own actions.” Really??? Let’s look at the Goldstone Report, which called upon both Israel and Hamas to investigate their actions before, during and after Operation Cast Lead. Israel complied. It conducted a thorough investigation which persuaded its general staff to reduce the scale of Operation Pillar of Defense in order to reduce civilian casualties. (Prof. Falk has cynically dismissed this as a public relations ploy.)
    What did Hamas find in its investigation as ordered by the Goldstone Report? Well… Hamas never conducted an investigation. In fact, Hamas has never conducted an investigation into its own conduct. But Prof. Falk’s “experience” is somehow different from the obvious facts.
    Example #2: “Hamas assumed governing authority in June 2007…” “Assumed governing authority” sounds like an orderly transfer of power, doesn’t it? That’s what Prof. Falk wants us to believe. But in fact, Hamas seized power in Gaza following a year-long fratricidal war with Fatah in which at least two hundred Palestinians died and many more were wounded—not one of them by Israeli hands. The Palestinians called it Wakseh, meaning humiliation, ruin, and collapse as a result of self-inflicted damage. I’m sure Prof. Falk knows this history. But he doesn’t want his readers to know it.
    Example #3 : “Every day Palestinian fishermen and farmers risk being shot at or detained by Israeli forces.” Sounds like Israel is in the habit of using Gaza’s offshore waters as a shooting gallery. I’ve checked the records and can find no more than a very small number of shootings in waters around Gaza during the 45 years since Israel took control. At least half of these incidents involved terrorists attempting to smuggle armaments into Gaza.
    Example #4: “We visited the sites of attacks and spoke with surviving family members. It is clear that some attacks killed and harmed civilians in a grossly disproportionate manner and thus clearly appear to violate international law…There is a widespread feeling among Palestinians that Israel is above the law, and that Israel is likely to continue to have the benefits of impunity even when it flagrantly violates international humanitarian law.”
    Two of Prof. Falk’s favorite tactics are on display here:
    1. Taking Palestinian allegations at face value without any attempt at real investigation: no effort to find corroborating witnesses, etc. That Palestinians “feel that Israelis are above the law” has no legal standing in any reasonable venue.

    2. Israel is accused of “flagrant violations of international humanitarian law”, but no reference is made to Hamas’ well-documented flagrant violation of international humanitarian law in positioning rockets and rocket launchers in heavily populated areas, thus putting civilians in harms way; and in in its indiscriminately firing rockets into centers of Israeli population, which is also well-documented.

    Moreover, Prof. Falk and others apply a curious yardstick in judging the morality of Hamas’ rocketry. When a Hamas rocket aimed at a civilian neighborhood where Israeli children are asleep in their beds misses its target—either because of faulty calibration or the effectiveness of Israel’s new Iron Dome anti-missile system—it is cited proof that Hamas’ has peaceful peaceful intentions: “Look at how little damage their rockets actually do.”

    In accusing Israel of violating the terms of the ceasefire agreement by barring fishermen from a restricted area, Prof. Falk deliberately misinterprets the ceasefire agreement. This is what he text says:
    “Opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas. Procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after twenty-four hours from the start of the ceasefire.” (bf mine).
    In other words, Israel agreed in principle to loosen restrictions, but not until procedures for implementation are negotiated. To my knowledge, these have not been set. Until they are, Israel is under no obligation to revise anything. “forgets” that the cease fire is incumbent on both parties, and that Hamas’ record in honoring commitments is far worse than Israel’s. The greater worry for those who want the ceasefire to hold and lead to regional peace is to found in the words of Hamas’ leader Khlid Mishalm, who immediately after the ceasefire who reaffirmed Hamas’ intention to destroy Israel and called for a third Intifada.
    Part of the greatness of Ghandi and Dr. King is that they made equal ethical demands on both sides to the conflict. Regrettably, Prof. Falk marches to a different drummer.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  • Ken Kelso says:

    Richard Falk seems to have a problem saying Palestinian Fascist Rejectionists.
    Hamas leader vows never to recognize Israel
    Dec 8, 2012

    GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, making his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, vowed on Saturday never to recognize Israel and said his Islamist group would never abandon its claim to all Israeli territory.

    “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told a sea of supporters at an open-air rally, the highlight of his three-day stay in Gaza.

    “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”

    In an uncompromising speech, Meshaal also vowed to free Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, indicating Islamist militants would try to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as a bargaining chip.

    Israel last year released 1,027 Palestinians from its jails in return for the liberation of Gilad Shalit, a conscript soldier who was seized by Palestinian guerrillas in 2006 and hidden for more than five years in Gaza.

    Thousands of Palestinian detainees remain in Israel. The Jewish state says many of them are terrorists. Hamas calls them freedom fighters.
    “We will not rest until we liberate the prisoners. The way we freed some of the prisoners in the past is the way we will use to free the remaining prisoners,” Meshaal said to cheers from the huge crowd that had flocked to see him.

    Meshaal was born in the nearby West Bank but has lived most of his life in exile. He entered Gaza 24 hours ago to attend Saturday’s rally which marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

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