TWO years after Israel’s devastating invasion of besieged Gaza, human rights groups are expressing alarm over the lack of reconstruction and the lack of war crimes prosecutions in the Gaza Strip.
In a report ahead of Friday’s anniversary of the invasion, a group of leading NGOs urged Israel on Thursday to lift its crippling blockade of Gaza where more than 1.8 million Palestinians live in despicable conditions.
Amnesty International said that the lack of genuine criminal investigations was ‘indefensible’ and that no criminal cases had been brought against the Israeli perpetrators of war crimes arising out of the 50 days of attacks.
These attacks, known as Operation Protective Edge, began on July 8 2014. There were 50 days of attacks, with Israeli forces wreaking massive death and destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, with about 11,100 others injured.
Amnesty International said yesterday that only three Israeli soldiers have been charged over that war, all for minor offences committed during what was a massive war crime.
Meanwhile, Israel has maintained its decade-long blockade on the enclave, limiting the entry of many goods essential for construction ‘severely impeding reconstruction and recovery’ in Gaza.
Under the Israeli siege, Gaza’s economy has collapsed while Tel Aviv’s wars have wiped out the coastal territory’s infrastructure.
Most roads remain destroyed, with many areas desolated and homes, schools and medical centres toppled.
Around 20,000 homes were left totally uninhabitable in the war and more than 120,000 others at least partly damaged, according to the United Nations.
The unemployment rate of more than 47 per cent is one of the highest in the world.
However on the second anniversary of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, residents in the Gaza Strip fear another Israeli invasion is near, the fourth since 2008.
In February 2015, Avigdor Lieberman, who was then serving as Israel’s foreign minister declared that ‘a fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable.’
He is now Israel’s defence minister. On the second anniversary of Israel’s last war on Gaza, Palestinians say that Lieberman’s appointment as Israel’s defence minister brings a new war much closer.
Lieberman, during the 2014 war on Gaza, publicly accused Netanyahu of ‘not cracking down hard enough on Gaza’.
On May 5, the Israeli military carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip in response to what it said were mortar rounds fired into its territory. One woman was killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, in addition to the reported injuries.
Lieberman has repeatedly advocated that Israel should re-occupy the Gaza Strip and conduct ‘a thorough cleansing of the enclave’, and supported targeted assassinations against Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip.
Last month, just before he was appointed defence minister, he said he would give Hamas’ Ismail Haniya 48 hours to hand over two detained Israeli civilians who crossed into Gaza as well as the bodies of soldiers killed in the 2014 war ‘or you’re dead’. The message is clear.
Workers in the West must get ready to give full support to the masses of Palestine if Israel, on the second anniversary of Operation Protective Edge, launches a new genocidal war on Gaza, to kill thousands more Palestinians and to completely destroy Gaza.
In that event, a worldwide boycott must be clamped on Israel and all Israeli products, while industrial action must be taken to force the UK government to stop arming Israel and to recognise the State of Palestine.
Workers must give every support to the Third Intifada that is now well underway and will not halt until a a secular socialist state of Palestine has been established, with Jerusalem as its capital, and where Jews, Christians and Arabs live side by side in peace and security.