By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
July 10, 2011
A fortnight ago, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his son, Seif Al-Islam and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity. The three men were charged with murder and persecution under Article 25 of the Rome Statue, which defines the responsibility of individuals criminally responsible for crimes committed against a state.
Libya’s Arab Spring which is stretching now into the Arab summer has kept newscasters busy. On Feb. 26, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1970 putting in place sanctions, travel bans and freezing the assets of the Libyan leader and his inner circle. That was followed by Resolution 1973 in March authorizing the use of “all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack…” and established no-fly zones throughout the region after Qaddafi refused to heed the calls of the international community to step down. And now the ICC warrants.
Admittedly, Qaddafi with his multifaceted personality has not endeared himself to many in his country and around the world with his strong-armed and often brutal response to the protests of his people. Nor have his occasional comic outbursts mollified his few remaining allies. But let us pause for some moment and reflect on other crimes that happened not so long ago, crimes that mysteriously remain unchanged and unpunished.
Let us bring to the forefront the crimes against the Palestinian people orchestrated in the not so distant past by Israeli politicians such as Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, and continue today under Benjamin Netanyahu. Crimes of a holocaust proportion that also targeted the civilians of Lebanon back in 2006.
It was in 2008 when the Israelis released their holocaust against the defenceless people of Gaza when US-supplied Israeli F-16s rained their armaments of death. There was no noise raised by the international community, let alone the ICC. Neither had we heard loud protestations against the use of illegal weaponry in the form of white phosphorous incendiary bombs that resulted in such great human toll.
In a bold prediction, the Israeli activist Gideon Levy stated at the time, “When the cannons eventually fall silent, the time for questions and investigations will be upon us. The mushroom clouds of smoke and dust will dissipate in the pitch-black sky; the fervor, desensitization and en masse jumping on the bandwagon will be forever forgotten and perhaps we will view a clear picture of Gaza in all its grimness. Then we will see the scope of the killing and destruction, the crammed cemeteries and overflowing hospitals, the thousands of wounded and physically disabled, the destroyed houses that remain after this war.
“The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The public, moral and judicial test will be applied to the three Israeli statesmen who sent the Israel Defence Forces to war against a helpless population, one that did not even have a place to take refuge, in maybe the only war in history against a strip of land enclosed by a fence. Olmert, Barak and Livni will stand at the forefront of the guilty. Two of them are candidates for prime minister; the third is a candidate for criminal indictment. It is inconceivable that they not be held to account for the bloodshed.”
Well guess what folks? Nothing ever happened against those individuals. Why? Because they are Israelis and can act with impunity for the Western world not dare censure them. They went on to kill innocent people on the flotilla bound to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza. They do not have to face the music.
The people of Gaza have been in much the same wretched and hopeless state for years and years. The Palestinians have been continuously starved, attacked and martyred since the occupation began with the latest US supplied warplanes constantly screaming overhead and provoking further civilian deaths, making the situation more serious and disheartening. A modern day holocaust is being played in front of their eyes and yet the leaders of the West, so publicly outraged by the activities of Qaddafi have remained surprisingly mum on the murderous activities of the Israeli government.
Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Argentinean ICC prosecutor since 2003, had never tabled charges against Israel for such crimes. Nor has he brought to front those responsible for the crimes committed against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US forces and their NATO allies.
This is perhaps why it is imperative for all of us to demand accountability for such war crimes in any which way that happens. The hypocrisy of charging Qaddafi, while ignoring the crimes of others, smacks of double standard that erodes the credibility of the ICC. Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti was not off the mark when he stated that African countries believe the court is selective in how it assesses or lays charges. Would the International Criminal Court heed such words and behave even-handedly? Don’t bet on it when it comes to Israel, the rogue nation in the Middle East.
Source: The Frontier Post,