The arms trade and Israel's attack on Gaza
- The Guardian, Friday 18 July 2014 18.59 BST
Illustration by GKIMAGES.COM
Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged GazaStrip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression. Israel's ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world. Over the period 2008-19, the US is set to provide military aid to Israel worth $30bn, while Israeli annual military exports to the world have reached billions of dollars.
In recent years, European countries have exported billions of euros' worth of weapons to Israel, and the EU has furnished Israeli military companies with research grants worth hundreds of millions. Emerging economies such as India, Brazil and Chile are rapidly increasing their military trade and cooperation with Israel, despite their stated support for Palestinian rights. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel's military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Israel's military technology is marketed as "field-tested" and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel's system of occupation, colonisation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights. We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid.
Adolfo Peres Esquivel Nobel Peace Laureate, Argentina, Ahdaf Soueif author, Egypt/UK, Aki Olavi Kaurismäki film director, Finland,Alice Walker writer, US, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Nobel Peace Laureate, South Africa, Betty Williams Nobel Peace Laureate, Ireland,Boots Riley rapper, poet, arts producer, US, Brian Eno musician, UK,Caryl Churchill playwright, UK, Chris Hedges journalist, Pullitzer Prize 2002, US, Cynthia McKinney politician, activist, US, David Palumbo-Liu academic, US, Etienne Balibar philosopher, France, Federico Mayor Zaragoza former Unesco director general, Spain, Felim Eganpainter, Ireland, Frei Betto liberation theologian, Brazil, Gillian Slovowriter, UK/South Africa, Githa Hariharan writer, India, Giulio MarconMP (SEL), Italy, Hilary Rose academic, UK, Ilan Pappe historian, Israel,Ismail Coovadia former South African ambassador to Israel, James Kelman writer, Scotland, Janne Teller writer, Denmark, Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour), UK, Joanna Rajkowska artist, Poland, Jody Williams Nobel Peace Laureate, US, John Berger artist, UK, John Dugard former ICJ judge, South Africa, John McDonnell MP (Labour), UK, John Pilger journalist and filmmaker, Australia, Judith Butlerphilosopher, US, Juliane House academic, Germany, Karma NabulsiOxford University, UK/Palestine, Ken Loach filmmaker, UK, Kool AD (Victor Vazquez) musician, US, Liz Lochhead national poet for Scotland, UK, Luisa Morgantini former vice president of the European Parliament, Italy, Mairead Maguire Nobel Peace Laureate, Ireland,Michael Mansfield barrister, UK, Michael Ondaatje author, Canada/Sri Lanka, Mike Leigh writer and director, UK, Naomi Wallaceplaywright, screenwriter, poet, US, Noam Chomsky academic, author, US, Nurit Peled academic, Israel, Prabhat Patnaik economist, India,Przemyslaw Wielgosz chief editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, Polish edition, Poland, Raja Shehadeh author and Lawyer, Palestine, Rashid Khalidi academic, author, Palestine/US, Richard Falk former UN special rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories, US, Rigoberta Menchú Nobel Peace Laureate, Guatemala, Roger Waters musician, UK, Ronnie Kasrils former government minister, South Africa, Rose Fenton director, Free Word Centre, UK, Sabrina Mahfouz author, UK,Saleh Bakri actor, Palestine, Sir Geoffrey Bindman lawyer, UK, Slavoj Zizek author, Slovenia, Steven Rose academic, UK, Tom Leonardwriter, Scotland, Tunde Adebimpe musician, US, Victoria Brittainjournalist, UK, Willie van Peer academic, Germany, Zwelinzima Vavisecretary general of Cosatu, South Africa
• Seumas Milne (Gaza: This shameful injustice will only end if the cost of it rises, 16 July) says that it is "beyond the realm of fantasy" for Israel to claim that it is responding to rocket fire "out of the clear blue sky", yet before the launch of Operation Protective Edge on 6 July, Hamasaveraged three rockets a day from 14 to 29 June and 17 a day from 30 June to 6 July. Its attacks on Israel target civilians and residential areas.
Milne also claims that the blockade of Gaza is illegal, whereas the UN's Palmer report concluded that it is legal. Hamas is internationally recognised as a terrorist organisation, whose objective is not a peaceful solution to the Middle East's problems but the destruction of the state of Israel. Hamas has rejected a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt and supported by the Arab League and the UN, and greeted the start of Israel's five-hour ceasefire by firing rockets.
Milne praises Hamas's "defiance and resistance" and says it "has shown it can hit back across Israel". This is no less than the glorification of terror. His claim that there is a "power imbalance" is to imply that it is wrong for Israel to defend itself. The current crisis is a tragedy of Hamas's making and its latest actions only deter the great majority of Israelis who want a secure and just peace with their Palestinian neighbours.
Limpsfield Chart, Surrey
• Having lived in Israel for the past five years, I have seen first-hand the impact that ongoing terrorism has had on the country. In 2005, the Palestinian people had a great opportunity to create a new life for themselves in Gaza, but under the direction of Hamas, they turned to terrorism. Hamas consistently uses the people of Gaza as human shields and locates rockets in populated areas. Where is your condemnation of Hamas?
• Seumas Milne argues that the price of Israel's occupation needs to be raised. One way of doing this is to challenge Israel's claim that it is and is not an occupation.
This convenient ambiguity has enabled it to cherry-pick the Geneva convention and justify treating the occupied Palestinians differently from Israeli citizens while simultaneously annexing, expropriating and settling chunks of their territory. After 47 years, it is time to call the Israeli bluff. The Palestinian thinker Sam Bahour and I have proposed that a firm deadline be set for Israel to make up its mind definitively one way or the other. If it is an occupation, Israel's – supposedly provisional – custodianship should be brought to a swift end. If it is not an occupation, there is no justification for denying equal rights to everyone who is subject to Israeli rule, whether Israeli or Palestinian.
The key is to remove the status quo as the default option. So, should Israel choose not to choose, other states may interpret this to mean in effect that it intends to hold on to the occupied territories indefinitely and hold Israel accountable to the equality benchmark. The clutch of international laws pertaining to apartheid rather than occupation would then come into force. The hope is that the Israeli people would rebel against the pariah status this would entail and vote in a new government ready to do a genuine two-state deal before it really is too late.
• In your editorial on Gaza (17 July), after the mention of an Israeli airstrike on Saturday in which 22 were killed, we are told that "those on the ground did not deny that the Hamas-affiliated police chief of Gaza City was sheltering there". By suggesting that it is relevant that this accusation wasn't denied, the Guardian appears to be endorsing the Israeli use of extrajudicial executions of Palestinian public servants. It would be inconceivable to write this way if the situation were reversed.
• When the Arab world media is seen with rare unanimous voice to be holding Hamas responsible for the current Gaza war, it is fascinating that the Guardian remains consistent in condemning Israel alone. Which one is reporting news and which one its own prejudices?
• This article was amended on 20 July 2014. In an earlier version, an editing error led to Doron Youngerwood's address appearing as "Modi'in, West Bank".
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