The jury of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine including Nobel Peace Prize
Laureate Mairead Maguire (centre) announced its findings
On September 25 the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a group of international legal campaigners, presented its findings to the European Parliament, which included evidence of an incitement to genocide from legislators and government ministers during Israel’s latest offensive Operation Protective Edge.
The Tribunal, which was set up in Brussels in 2009 with support from the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, and supported by former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and former ministers of the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia, met in Brussels on September 24 to investigate Israeli war crimes perpetrated in the last few months.
Making reference to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Tribunal raised concerns that a combination of “inherently indiscriminate” war tactics and a rise in racist rhetoric against Palestinians across Israeli society made it “very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide.”
Its most notable evidence for incitement to genocide came from Israeli legislator and politician Ayelet Shaked, whose widely reported publication in July 2014 defined “the entire Palestinian people [as] the enemy.” She went on to argue for the destruction of “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure”, stating that the “mothers of terrorists” should be destroyed.
The Tribunal also found evidence of “willful killing, extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity, intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects, disproportionate use of force, attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education and the use of Palestinians as human shields.”
Former Sergent of the Israeli Defence Force, Eran Efrati, gave a testimony to the Tribunal, and talked about Israel’s bombardment of Shuja’iyya, a neighbourhood in the East of Gaza City, on July 20. He told the Tribunal that 120 one-tonne bombs were dropped on the neighbourhood in 7 hours, according to the Israeli army itself, and that the armoured corps, advancing into the neighbourhood, received the order to “open fire at anything that moved.” Efrati spoke of how an army officer gave a soldier permission to shoot 23-year old Salem Shammaly, Shujai’yya resident looking for his relatives after the bombing. He told the Tribunal that the officer in question switched his radio off before giving permission.
Efrati called the operation in Shuja’iyya a “revenge attack”. Efrati, who served in the IDF as a Sergent in 2006 and has been investigating the army since 2008, warned the Tribunal that “every time, the operations are getting worse, the massacres are getting worse, and nothing has stopped that…This massacre will happen again…with more people killed every time, at least if nobody is going to stop that.”