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Israel commits war crime in Gaza

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, May 16th, 2021 - 50 comments
Categories: crime, International, israel, Palestine, war - Tags:

The past couple of weeks in Israel has seen a descent into chaos in the Middle East.

What started as shooting of Palestinians on the west bank and an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site has blown out into a full on attack on the Gaza Strip and Hammas responding by firing missiles into Israel.

I wrote this in 2014 after a previous one sided battle:

The body count is brutally one sided.  On the Palestinian side more than 160 Palestinians had been killed including many children.  More than 1,000 injuries had been caused.  To date not one Israeli has lost their life because of these latest battles.

The technology being applied shows the stark difference in resources.  One one side are tanks, missiles, air fighters and drones.  On the other side are home made rockets that are crude and ineffective.

The comparative death rates show how one sided the battle has become.  In 2002 the Palestinian Israeli death ratio was 1:2.5, in 2007 1:25, and a couple of years ago it was 1:68.  Can anyone see a trend?

The trend has continued:

This morning revealed the most pristine clear evidence of a war crime imaginable.  From Aljazeera:

An Israeli air raid flattened a building housing residential apartments and the offices of news organisations, including Al Jazeera and AP, in Gaza.

Youmna al-Sayed had less than an hour to get to safety.

But with just one elevator working in al-Jalaa tower, an 11-storey building in Gaza City housing some 60 residential apartments and a number of offices, including those of Al Jazeera Media Network and The Associated Press, al-Sayed made a dash for the stairs.

“We left the elevator for the elderly and for the children to evacuate,” the Palestinian freelance journalist said. “And we were all running down the stairs and whoever could help children took them down,” she added. “I myself helped two children of the residents there and I took them downstairs – everyone was just running quickly.”

Moments earlier, the Israeli army, which has been bombarding Gaza for six straight days, had given a telephone warning that residents had just an hour to evacuate the building before its fighter jets attacked it.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout also had to move quickly. He and his colleagues “started to collect as much as they could, from the personal and equipment of the office – especially the cameras”, al-Kahlout said.

But more time was needed.

Just give me 15 minutes,” an AP journalist pleaded over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer. “We have a lot of equipment, including the cameras, other things,” he added from outside the building. “I can bring all of it out.”

Jawad Mahdi, the building’s owner, also tried to buy more time.

“All I’m asking is to let four people … to go inside and get their cameras,” he told the officer. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don’t allow it, but give us 10 minutes.”

“There will be no 10 minutes,” the officer replied. “No one is allowed to enter the building, we already gave you an hour to evacuate.”

When the request was rejected, Mahdi said: “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God.”

Customary International law requires the response of a state nominally acting in self defence to be proportionate to the threat.  The deliberate targeting of a tower containing civilians and two media organizations cannot be considered proportionate to any threat.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that a war crime includes “intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives”.  Directing an attack on news media would appear to fall squarely within that definition.

50 comments on “Israel commits war crime in Gaza ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Well put Micky. Mr Trump did not help at all with his ‘Abraham Accord’, which shamefully put more wedge politics between Arab States and justice for Palestinians.

    What the Israeli Military and State deploy in Gaza is increasingly unadorned butchery. The descendants of the vaunted “survivors of the Holocaust” seem in major denial of what that experience should mean.

    Well done to those New Zealanders that have weighed in with solidarity efforts by marching and rallying yesterday. Support BDS–even trashing that Sodastream and buying the alternative is a start. Roger Fowler and Mike Treen from Kia Ora Gaza have led by example, Mike being personally assaulted and his life threatened by Israeli security forces on his Flotilla trip. Green MP Marama Davidson went on a Gaza Flotilla also, and of course the legend John Minto has now concentrated his efforts on Palestinian Justice.

  2. mickysavage 2

  3. Morrissey 3

    Thanks Micky, an excellent article. Only one quibble: the headline should read:

    Israel commits ANOTHER war crime in Gaza.

    • The headline should read:

      US/Israel commits ANOTHER war crime in Gaza.

      There are 15 members of the powerful UN Security Council.

      In a rare show of unity, 14 of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted for a joint statement calling for a ceasefire, only one opposed.

      The US used its veto power to block the resolution.


      • Incognito 3.1.1

        Are you seriously equating the legitimate right of veto to block a resolution in/by a legitimate Council with committing a war crime? Seriously??

        • The state of Israel is for the most party an American colonial project, to counter the British and French control of the region after the WWII.

          America have aided and abetted this colonial settler state in its oppression and murder of the original population ever since.

          In total, the answer is yes.

          Yes the US is guilty of helping the Zionist state commit war crimes.

          In this particular case, in voting against the whole UN Security Council, in effect voting to let the slaughter continue, the US is guilty.

          In this particular case, the Biden administation could stop the slaughter right now, by suspending all US military and financial aid to America's colonial settler project.


          • Incognito

            By your way of thinking, there are a number of war criminals on the UN Security Council.


            It kinda loses its meaning if it gets peppered around like confetti. Same with other heavy labels such as genocide, racism, et cetera. Maybe this is to ‘normalise’ the people, i.e. to desensitise them to a point at which they hardly blink an eye when the label is aimed at a suspect. Paradoxically, when a word or concept becomes politically weaponised, it starts to lose its devastating impact, after a while. It says little about the morals of the time.

        • In my opinion, War Crime denial, like Holocaust Denial shares complicity between the denier and the perpetrator.

          That is apart from all the military material and financial support the US gives Israel to commit these war crimes.

          So was a war crime committed or not?

          I don't usually post whole blocks of text. But sometines it is necessary to provide context. I could have cut some of the obvious evasions and repetitive verbiage and word salad out from the Press Secretary's answers. But this risks being accused of slanted editiong. So I have had to leave it in full. I have left the Press Secretary's final answers out for you to read for yourself, and to shorten the block quote.

          Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, May 17, 2021

          [May 18, New Zealand, today]

          Q …….What would be the value in making a case for a ceasefire from — from your standpoint? And would you do that?

          MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that what’s most important is that we all share — the United States shares with a range of countries around the world — those who have been outspoken at the U.N., our partners and friends in Europe — a commitment and a desire to bring an end to the violence.

          And how we are approaching this is through the prism, again, of what steps can we take; what actions can we take behind the scenes — we’ve had over 60 calls in the past week, from the President on down, with senior leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and across the region; and how can we bring an end to the violence

          So that is how we are approaching it from the United States.

          Go ahead.

          Q Thanks, Jen. I want to ask that in the inverse: Why not? What is the value in not calling for a ceasefire right now, given many of those countries that you just listed — our close allies France, UK, Egypt, Jordan — have done so, are doing so?

          MS. PSAKI: That is true. But what we — the role we are playing, the action — the prism we are making all of our decisions through is: How can we help bring an end to the violence and bring an end to — deescalate the situation on the ground?

          And our calculation, at this point, is that having those conversations behind the scenes, weighing in with our important strategic partnership we have with Israel, also with other countries in the region, is the most constructive approach we can take.

          So our approach is through quiet, intensive diplomacy, and that’s where we feel we can be most effective.

          Q And does the President’s assessment from last Thursday still stand: that he does not see Israel’s strikes as a significant overreaction?

          MS. PSAKI: Again, I think — I noted that the President also had two calls over the weekend, since Thursday, where he conveyed his concerns about the current period of conflict; the — the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians that have been lost; and certainly raised his concern about the safety and security of journalists and others who have been impacted on the ground.

          So we’re not going to give a day-by-day evaluation. I will say that our objective is to — just like it is with other countries and our partners around the world — is to play the role we can play in the most constructive way possible to bring — to reduce the violence, to deescalate the situation on the ground. And a great deal of that is going to be through intensive, quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.

          Q And just one last question, if I may. You mentioned the journalists on the ground on that Gaza tower strike. The Prime Minister Netanyahu called this a “perfectly legitimate target.” Does this White House agree with that?…….

          I will let you read the White House Press Secretary's answer to that question for yourself. But basically the Press Secretary makes hints to some secret intelligence information on this building she has not yet had "confirmation" of.

          Micky Savage at the top of this post has identified the bombing of the press building as a war crime as defined by the Rome Statute.

          Read the press secretary's reply and judge for yourself if the Biden administration agrees or disagrees with Micky Savage's assessment.


          The deliberate targeting of a tower containing civilians and two media organizations cannot be considered proportionate to any threat.

          The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Courtstatesthat a war crime includes “intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives”. Directing an attack on news media would appear to fall squarely within that definition.

          US complicity is not at issue.

          What is at issue is whether the press building was a legitimate target or not?

          Was a war crime committed?

          Will the Biden Administration release the secret intelligence that the White House Press Secretary says the US intelligence services have, that would confirm or refute that the press building was a legitimate target?

          Or will the Biden Administration continue with the evasions and word salad, cover for giving military and financial support for Israel to commit these crimes?

          • Incognito

            Your first sentence, and possibly the second, was getting close-ish to addressing my question but you’re beating around the bush. Complicity is not the same as being the perpetrator, as you more or less admit by your choice of words. A legitimate veto cannot be equated to committing a war crime. I reject your premise.

            • Jenny How to get there

              I suppose that we will just have to agree, to disagree.

              You reject my premise,

              Whereas, I think it is a reasonable premise to make.

              The US supplied the weapons that Israel used to destroy the press tower and that MickySavage, (and others), say is a war crime as defined by the Rome Convention.

              IG Farben supplied the Cyclon B gas that the nazis used to kill millions of Jews and other undesireables and were found guilty of committing war crimes.

              IG Farben Trial – Wikipedia

              [Content deleted because it contained too many links that triggered Auto-Moderation]

              "You fasten the triggers for others to use", as Bob Dylan wrote, and as the court found, then you are just as guilty.

            • Is the US complicite in Israeli war crimes?

              ….one reason there has been so little justice for the Palestinians is the foreign policy of the United States.

              "I don't think that there's any way this occupation and creeping annexation process could have gotten where it is today if the United States had said no," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Zionist group J-Street.

              …..To be fair, this is not something that began with Trump:
              America has been enabling Israel's occupation and settlement project for decades.

              …..All this mayhem is overdetermined; nearly every iniquity in the region has an impossibly complicated prehistory. But the United States has underwritten both Palestian subjugation and the growing power of Jewish ethnonationalism. It's not enough for Joe Biden to be a little bit better than Trump or to try and restart a spectral "peace process". If Israel can no longer afford to ignore the demands of the Palestinians, neither can we.


  4. RedLogix 4

    Another excellent Caspian Report – reasonably even handed:

    • Ad 4.1

      I enjoy these reports.

      Looking forward to the social media war, and how their ethical Boards will react to different versions of the truth.

    • Caspian Report is a fantastic Channel and this is a good summary video for the situation.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    It's a difficult matter, this kind of atrocity, and it has far-reaching implications. The assault on the worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque must generate a desire to respond among the large and diverse Islamic community. There is traditionally a competition for influence in the region between Saudi and Iran, and failure to react by the guardians of the holy mosques would likely be perceived as a kind of lese majeste. Mohammed bin Salman has proven jealous of his honours before.

    Traditionally, the US would protest the targeting of journalists, but the Bush government having murdered Al Jazeera journalists during the invasion of Iraq, a guilty silence on that subject seems likely.

    For my part, I'd cheerfully see the Israeli embassy invited to leave NZ, but I doubt that will be the government's response. An artwork commemorating the civilians killed in this conflict emplaced in front of the embassy might suffice to convey our disappointment at the barbarism on display.

  6. Bazza64 6

    To be even handed, Hamas shooting rockets direct into Israeli cities & residents would also be a war crime ?

    • Noel 6.1

      Bazza Depends..

      "Simply put, “War” is defined as a long standing armed conflict between two or more groups over resources, land, cultural differences, or other matters of contention"

      A War Crime is a breach of international laws of War.

      Is an on and off conflict war?

    • McFlock 6.2


      Heck of a kill ratio, though. Almost like one response is disproportionate.

      • mickysavage 6.2.1

        Yep and only one nation gets billions of dollars of military aid from the western world.

  7. Infused 7

    The building was empty. Just like the others they warned hours before taking them out.

    • Incognito 7.1

      How many hours? Feel free to back your assertion with specific info and a link.

        • Incognito

          Well, Infused will be mighty pleased that you provided a link, but I also asked for specific info. The onus is on the one who makes (the) assertion(s) to back them up, especially when asked. This doesn’t necessarily mean dumping a link to an article or video clip and leave it to the other to go and find the answer, if it is even in the link provided. It means answering the question with the requested info as per assertion.

          • Infused

            The info is everywhere. A link has been provided for the latest. The previous ones had 3 hour warnings with drones dropping a warning signal beforehand

            [If you read my reply to Noel here (https://thestandard.org.nz/israel-commits-war-crime-in-gaza/#comment-1793205) you’ll see that a link alone is not sufficient and that I don’t want to have to dig around in that link to find that you were quite liberal with the truth when you claimed that they were warned “hours before taking them out” when in fact it was “just one hour” and not even 10 min extra despite the desperate pleading (cf. link). The question was specific about a specific event involving a specific building. You know how it works here. This is your warning – Incognito]

            • Incognito

              See my Moderation note @ 6:13 pm.

              • Infused

                Jesus Christ. No wonder this place is dead, taken a fucking chill pill. I'm not googling shit for you because your authors and mods are incompetent.

                [Take a month off to chill out. You have been banned before for the exact same shit and I did warn you. You make an assertion, you back it up. You spread BS, you correct and apologise. You don’t blow your lid and start accusing others – what do Authors have to do with this anyway? – of being incompetent when you are the lazy one who doesn’t want to provide simple basic answers that you should know since you made the assertion; it is a form of common courtesy to others here. Not that you’d care, it seems – Incognito]

                • Incognito

                  See my Moderation note @ 10:03 pm.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  The building was empty. Just like the others they warned hours before taking them out.

                  Good point – some terrorist organisations issue warnings.


                  Both distinctly asymmetric conflicts.

                  The end of Israel’s illusion
                  While Jews are entitled to reclaim property they owned before Israel’s founding, Palestinians may not. Those facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah cannot recover the homes in Jaffa and Haifa that they once owned.

                  Israel certainly cannot claim victory. The fragile coexistence between Jews and Arabs within its borders has been shaken. The prevailing consensus among Israelis that Palestinian nationalism had been defeated—and thus that a political solution to the conflict was no longer necessary—lies in tatters. And even as the violence escalates, it has become clear to both sides that the era of glorious wars and victories is over.


    • mickysavage 7.2

      That makes it ok? People were living there and two media companies had bases there.

  8. Noel 8

    One and building was empty of people.

  9. Kerry 9

    And as per usual the morals of the worlds population with mysteriously disappear while a genocide continues in Palestine. Israel has never, nor will they ever agree, or do any movement toward a 2 state solution…..to believe otherwise puts you in the category of being on crack!

    [you previously commented here under your (i.e. this) approved user name and I have removed your surname; some commenters sometimes accidentally add their surname, i.e. by mistake – Incognito]

  10. Byd0nz 10

    The Illegal State that is Israel has taken on the mantle of Hitler and surely has used up any sympathy that they have hidden behind.

    Talk about the so called genocide leveled against China, this continued terrorism by Israel using WMD supplied by the US tops that.

    Time to dismantle Israel and hand it back to the rightful owners.

  11. Bazza64 11

    So the headline of this article should be Israel & Hamas commit war crimes in the Middle East.

    • In Vino 11.1

      Don't be pathetic, Bazza64. Hammas are barely managing to wage war. If the deaths were equal on each side, I would accept your simplistic, lame attempt to portray both as equally bad.

      The number of deaths on the other side damns the Israelis only.

      Hammas – trying to wage war.

      Israelis – war-criminally overbearing savagery of response.

    • mickysavage 11.2

      Check out the kill ratio. It is like kids armed with a slingshot taking on a tank.

    • Noel 11.3

      Bazza 64. Perhaps no.

      The Hamas would say their rockets are not targeting civilians, a breach of Law.

      Israel says it was not targeting journalists because it gave safe passage from the building in accordance with the Law.

      Blogs are full of people who will make claim's of War Crimes but rarely do they back it up..

  12. Bazza64 12

    Clearly war crimes have been committed on both sides, but it seems the side suffering less deaths gets excused for this ? I agree the kill ratio is apalling, but hamas have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel which I don’t think is barely managing to wage war, but due to the Iron dome system used by Israel the damage is much less.

    I am not portraying both as equally bad but are both sides not committing war crimes?

    • McFlock 12.1

      Yes, they are.

      Thing is, one is firing unguided rockets because it's all they can produce.

      The other is dropping precision-guided munitions fifty times the size onto residential apartments and media offices.

      Imagine a fight where one little guy is blindfolded and flailing about – mostly hitting nothing, sometimes hitting the opponent in the chest, sometimes hitting the opponent in the nuts.

      The opponent is much larger, can see clearly, and chooses to repeatedly hit the little guy in the nuts.

      • Gabby 12.1.1

        Morals aside, you'd think the little guy would be a bit quicker on the uptake. Possibly the little guy isn't altogether displeased by the disproportion.

        • McFlock

          Every WP cloud has a silver lining for someone.

          Geopolitics, and ME in particular, is fun like that.

        • Sacha

          Possibly the little guy isn't altogether displeased…

          Spoken like somebody who has never been kicked in the nuts. 🙂

  13. Liberal Realist 13

    Israel commits war crime in Gaza

    Israel was founded on the basis of a war crime (forced displacement of civilian population) and has been committing war crimes against Palestine and Palestinians since 1948.

    Current events are simply a continuation of Israel's slow deliberate planned genocide of the Palestinian peoples.

    Methinks that the recent inception of violence is in part another ploy by Netanyahu to stave off his prosecution for corruption. The psychopath is prepared to murder civilians enmasse in order to maintain power, thus immunity from prosecution.

    It is extremely saddening to know that nothing will change, Palestinians will continue to be murdered by Israel without consequence as the USA will block any attempt by the UN to halt the violence. Even if a resolution does eventuate and pass, Israel will simply ignore it. Billions of US$$ will continue to flow in the form of cash, warmachines, and bombs from the US to Israel unimpeded. The Zionist cabal in Biden's cabinet + Zionist power brokers in the American establishment will ensure it so and the US will do as it is told.

  14. Ad 14

    So. Weird question. Does the removal of the entire local msm capacity and default to social media news make accurate and true reporting in Gaza less likely, or more?

  15. Noel 15

    “Deliberately targeting media outlets constitutes a war crime,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.


    Presumably these will be the focus from Article 8.

    (ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;

    v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;

    Result will be interesting.

  16. pukahu road 16

    Electricity substations ,sewerage facilities, water pumping stations have been bombed and now the only access for the delivery of the necessities of life has been closed.

    Whether the occupants of apartments have been warned or not it is still considered an "exceptionally serious war crime" under Protocol 1 (amended in 1977) Article 51 of the original 1949 Geneva convention.

    Those who have been forced from their homes especially the women and children are sheltering in schools and mosques but as we have seen in the past Israel has bombed these areas with impunity.

    The support of Israel by especially the US makes them culpable and confirms the commitment to Israel and Zionism under a Joe Biden administration.

    The need for adherence of International humanitarian laws has never been more urgent.

    Unfortunately under the current world order and its slavish connection to the military industrial complex, peace around the globe is not an option.

    Their is simply too much money to be made and too many people willing to take it no matter what the cost.

    Somehow a new world order needs to be established to counter the greed and corruption that seems to drive our society currently,

    Optimism defeats pessimism.

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