Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Catalogue of Crime

So, at last, after so many attacks, so many incursions, so many 'targeted assassinations' patience with Israel has snapped. A state that is sixty years old can no longer assume impunity. UNWRA has warned that it is 'keeping a catalogue' of all Israeli actions which could be considered War Crimes.

This time, it is doubtful that even the most complacent American administration can save them. And Obama and Clinton must by now be all too aware that anything more than words of sympathy will merely increase the loathing of (in many countries) or distaste for (in most others) the USA.

They must know, among their European allies in NATO, several of whom have firmly resisted the previous administration's attempts to turn NATO into a kind of 102nd Division bound for Afghanistan, that any hope of military co-operation must be close to zero.

So Israel's foreign minister made a dash to Washington to get a last ditch promise to effectively starve and economically ruin the Gaza Strip for ever, by effectively asking the USA to assist with tightening and maintaining its blockade.

In other words, to continue the job that the war was intended to accomplish, but for which, now, there is simply not enough time.

The agreement is a 'memorandum of understanding', and therefore, hopefully not binding, for if the Obama administration conforms to its intent, the results will simply defeat any aspirations he may have to restore his country's reputation and influence anywhere else in the world.

But in the meantime, of course, the agreement has no doubt covered the last shipment of hundreds of tons of munitions the US has on the high seas for use in the last few days before Obama gets a grip. And the confirmation hearings have not yet ended, so in effect, his administration will be powerless well into January.

Whatever hopes there may be for a ceasefire, a complete one on the Israeli side, could well therefore be delayed for another two weeks or longer. It cannot necessarily be assumed that it might be an Israeli Inauguration present.

Especially when you read the story of munitions shipments on their way from the US to Israel:

"We know that the Wehr Elbe, a German-owned cargo ship left the USA on 20 December 2008 with a large consignment – 989 containers - of high explosives and other munitions destined for Israel," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"Hired and now legally controlled by the US Military Sealift Command, it was heading for the Israeli port of Ashdod and was due to transit via Greece, though its latest reported position indicates that the shipment's route may have changed."

Tenders for two other arms shipments totalling 325 containers of US munitions were approved by the Pentagon on 31 December, four days after the start of Israel's current attacks on targets in Gaza.

These two consignments were due to be shipped to Ashdod from Askatos in Greece, but they have now been cancelled, according to information provided to Amnesty International by the US Military Sealift Command.

Tender documents show that these shipments contain white phosphorus, known for its potential to cause severe burns and an indiscriminate weapon when used as an airburst in densely-populated civilian areas as now alleged in Gaza.

The US Department of Defence says it is now looking at other means to deliver the munitions to a US stockpile in Israel. A US-Israel agreement has allowed US munitions stockpiled in Israel to be transferred to the Israeli Defence Force in "an emergency".

[from sources not confirmed.] Did the foreign minister's dash to Washington really have anything whatsoever to do with discussing a ceasefire? It would be rather naive after this to believe it.

1 comment:

ed iglehart said...

I suspect the Israelis are desperate for some semblance of a cease-fire before the Obama inauguration. They are (I hope rightly) that Obama will take the reins and shout "Whoa!" And I hope (against odds) that he'll order those ships to turn around...