Israel must be held accountable

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Israel must be held accountable

Aref Assaf

Daily Record Op-Ed

Now that the guns have gone silent in Gaza, it is prudent to reflect on the causes and consequences of this latest round of mass carnage in the Middle East. While both Israel and Hamas have claimed their objectives were achieved justifying their willingness to cease fire, the fact remains that only Palestinians noncombatants have been made the victims of this needless war. US corporate media to a large extent followed Israel’s prescripted war message and even did not challenge Israel’s media blackout.

Americans, by and large, have not seen the full extent of Israel’s excessive use of firepower, some of which have been declared illegal by the United Nations, against civilians. More than 70% of the 7000 injured or killed in Gaza, have been Palestinian civilians, half of whom are children and women. More than 20,000 homes have been destroyed in addition to hospitals, schools, public buildings, and places of worship. As more corpses are removed from under the rubble of destroyed buildings, the full extent of Israel’s objectives will be starkly revealed. Israel invaded Gaza hoping to destroy Hamas but it only inflicted the most damage on the Palestinian civilians. Hamas’s military and popular strength seem to have been unscathed. As such it is a legitimate demand to bring Israel’s leaders to account for war crimes and the use of prohibited weapons.

What happens in the short term will depend largely on a more visible US role in not only easing the tension and providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians but more importantly in redirecting the world’s efforts to the core issue of the conflict- namely the ending of the Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

It is certain that neither the ceasefire can be sustained no violence eradicated without a more vigorous, impartial and committed engagement by the United States. President Obama will soon recognize Israel’s ploy of creating facts on the ground and obstacles to peace. We hope he will also recognize that there is no uglier example for terrorism than Israel’s military occupation and the inhumane treatment of millions of Palestinians at the hands of Israel and with the blessing and funding of the United States government.

Aref Assaf, Ph.D., President, American Arab Forum, a think-tank specializing in Arab and Muslim affairs.