“Operation Cast Lead”

A big issue, and rightfully so, that is currently filling every news feed is the use of chemical weapons in Syria against civilians. While this issue needs to be addressed immediately, Syria is not the only place where this type of heinous crime has been committed. Although, it was all the way back in 2008 the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip was one of the most devastating the Palestinians have ever faced. Thousands of innocent people were killed, homes destroyed, and over a billion dollars worth in damages. Yet the situation somehow managed to get worse than this.

During the assault Israel had bombed a United Nations relief & Work Agency using chemical weapons containing white phosphorus. White phosphorus burns on contact with human skin and can cause death when inhaled. The use of this chemical is currently allowed for smoke screen but is considered a war crime when used against people. When initially confronted with the information Israel denied the allegations. Later on they claimed it was only used as a smoke screen to protect their soldiers from firing by the opposite side. This defense was also later to be found untrue and the most Israel had to say in the end was “it was a grave error”.
Ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone headed an investigation and report after the attack desisted back in 2008. His report did not get much attention in the U.S media but rather all that was focused on was Israel’s denial of all charges alleged. Some reporters even went as far as to criticize Goldstone for not getting more information from the Israeli perspective meanwhile they were the ones who were not cooperating during his investigation of the chemical weapons usage. This is not a matter of placing blame but rather holding those guilty accountable. If the United States was fully aware of Israel’s actions and did not punish them but instead helped them sweep it under the rug, then why should another country such as Syria care about doing the same thing? It is true the relationship between the U.S and Israel differs vastly from the one the U.S has with Syria, however, this provides no justification for allowing one country to do something as horrendous as use chemical weapons against innocent civilians and going to war with the other. All who commit these depraved crimes evidencing no regard for human life should be punished accordingly to serve as a lesson for those who may contemplate doing the same in the future.

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2 comments

  1. I agree with the fact that justice should be administered uniformly throughout the world; otherwise those who administer justice will lose all moral authority. If nothing else, the reason that we have an international treaty system is to ensure that no one acts in a way that contravenes the accepted norms exhibited by the rest of the world. And, if the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction is to have any meaning at all, there must be a certain level of predictability to its enforcement.

    Unfortunately, all to often we are reminded that international law is subservient to the sovereign. It is the sovereigns, each respective nation, that determine what is truly acceptable and that which is not. The international conventions do provide the moral imperatives that most agree with, but it is the sovereigns that determine whether to apply the law. As in life, international law is about who you know, not what you know.

    If it were any different then NATO troops would be in the Congo today. If it was any different then Israel would have been liable for countless violations of international law with respect to violating Palestinian sovereignty, among other things. The fact that the world is up in arms about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria is the product of the reality that Syria, not Palestine or the Congo, is a critical geo-political asset. At the end of the day, the group that controls Syria has a foothold in the entire region. Hence, the proxy war that is currently being fought there.

    I will be happy to see the day when international leaders take a stance against this type of geo-political nepotism and start enforcing the laws that they swear to uphold, regardless of who commits the atrocities.

  2. Besides, there was major use of chemicals in Indochina by the USA armed forces, in Vietnam, North and South, in Cambodia and Laos, on a scale unequalled before or since, and vastly surpassing their use in the World Wars. “Depleted” uranium shells, used as “tank-busters” and “bunker-busters” are also chemical weapons, as well as nuclear weapons. The major powers of the world are all involved in research, development and storage (a.k.a. stockpiling) of chemical weapons of their own, despite the Convention.

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