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Israel Ignoring Principles of Distinction and Proportionality

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Here we have it again; a renewal in the cycle of violence and, just like it was four years ago, we have an upcoming Israeli election coupled with the beginning of winter. Media will frantically report on increasing tension, violence, the mass exchange and increase of rockets on southern Israeli towns, and assassinations and 'surgical strikes' on Gaza.

2012-11-16-IsraelisprotestGazaassaultActivestills.jpgIsraeli activists take part in a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in center Tel Aviv, November 15, 2012. (photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Witnessing from afar, it is devastating to witness so much violence, destruction and death. A disturbing thought is that in the end the Israeli officials will likely hail operation Pillar of Defence a massive success with claims of 'restored deterrence,' and that 'terrorist infrastructures' have been destroyed. As usual those who have died will not matter, the chaotic destruction will not matter and the Israeli south will return to its status of being a forgotten place, abandoned to the stagnation of unemployment and economic instability.

Narratives are flowing in through numerous media channels including on our television screens. We have seen the tragedy of the three Israeli's killed by rocket fire from terrorist organisations in the Gaza strip which we must rightly condemn. Projectiles launched indiscriminately at Israeli civilian population centres have no justification and I repeat the condemnation put out by B'tselem.

I firmly believe that the renewed escalation in violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip needs to be scrutinised using international law accompanied with a more in-depth analysis looking a the reality on the ground as a result of actions by those participating in the violence.

We must also condemn the senseless and indiscriminate bloodshed caused by the state of Israel in its strikes against the Gaza Strip which it performs in full awareness that the areas being hit are civilian populated areas. Launching a full scale military assault by land, air and sea in the knowledge that civilians will be killed is immoral and could constitute criminal acts.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (Facebook) has condemned the on-going Israeli attacks on Gaza, viewing the violence as "an expression of on-going suppression of a people's right to self-determination and of pacification, not of self-defense".

Tragic reality unfolds as we see a mounting toll of death and injury. As I write there have been over 45 Palestinians and three Israelis killed. We are seeing a continued brutal bombardment from Israel, which is responded to with more rockets from Gaza, which are even reaching the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In southern Israel hospitals are moving patients to other health centres further away from the violence and hundreds of thousands are in bomb shelters.

The BBC has delivered a heart wrenching report of a BBC Arabic journalist whose baby was killed by shrapnel in Gaza who spoke about his son's death.

Many, including myself, are tired of baseless rhetoric exacerbated by the outpouring of media supporting various narratives in the argument. Even the IDF has created a new precedent for how military operations are revealed by announcing it on Twitter . Amongst it all we hear the usual murderous statements by Hamas and we then see the expected Israeli responses, including the attempted justification for the IDF's actions through the callous and hollow words of "regretting civilian death" or that the deaths are unfortunate but necessary to defend Israel all whilst Israeli Politicians line up behind the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Gazans' claim that the air strikes which have hit numerous public buildings, including near United Nations facilities, are designed to spread fear and panic amongst the Palestinian population. This directly repudiates the idea that these are the 'surgical strikes' talked about by Netanyahu. The state of Israel's disproportionate use of violence evidently doesn't stop the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip, but rather further perpetuates the conflict in a manner that destroys lives and traumatizes entire groups of people thus endangering Israeli and Palestinian lives a hundredfold.

Nothing can be gained through the use of judicial executions or the assassinating of people, even if they are guilty of crimes (terrorism) they have previously committed. The cost to human life should be the single biggest motivating factor toward finding a way to end all violence immediately.

Amongst the latest rounds of propaganda are the sanitized yet problematic phrasing found in the condemnations of violence which for the most part embody everything wrong in our mainstream media through categorizing Gaza as Israel's problem.

But why exactly is it that we see discrepancy in those condemning violence?

I would argue that as a result of the existing polarisation surrounding Israel-Palestine we rarely see a genuine human rights based approach that condemns all civilian death and injury equally.

Israel continually refuses to distinguish between innocent civilians and what it claims are legitimate targets, they have placed blame for civilian death, not on their own forces that are firing the weapons, but on the civilians themselves for living in areas that have militants nearby - which, quite frankly, is absurd.

Alas we have a set of unfortunate circumstances where no thought or care is given for the deaths of 'the other' depending on which side of the fence you sit. No push exists to identify who is at fault or that Israel's clearly outlined agenda is not conductive of peace but rather a deceptive divergence beyond the purported line of 'protecting Israeli citizens'.

It can even be argued that violent actions from Israel and Hamas only further endanger the lives of Israeli civilians as evidenced by the devastating number of deaths and injuries. Yet nobody is willing to outline a full time line of events pinpointing when the latest escalations actually begun, some argue it was with the death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy on 8 November, whilst others argue it was the result of an attack upon an Israeli army jeep on 10 November.

We are all left asking the question of when we will ever see robust action and sanctions holding Israel and Hamas accountable for their crimes. How can we stand by and allow principles of distinction and proportionality to be blurred beyond recognition?

It is time to for governments to act for the sake of human life and an end to human rights violations that undeniably accompany the corrosive violence in Israel-Palestine.