Israel has rejected UN demands for an external probe of the Gaza raid, and instead has announced that it is to administer an internal investigation. Israel, trying to somewhat appease the international community, has added “two foreign observers” to the commission. The observers include Irish Nobel Prize laureate David Trimble, and Canada’s former Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces Ken Watkin. David Trimble, one of the “foreign observers,” recently joined a Friends of Israel group. If Israel is to include outsiders in the internal probe, it should at least let them be chosen by an external party. The “observers” should also have an active participating role; simply observing the commission and not offering their input seems futile. The structure of the commission is inhibiting in other ways as well. The commission must use summaries of the events, as soldiers cannot be directly questioned. It can ask for more information if not satisfied, though there is no guarantee they will receive more information (BBC).
The purposes of the commission are to: examine the “security circumstances” of the naval blockade on Gaza and whether this conforms to international law, decide if the actions of May 31st, conform to the principles of international law, and consider the actions of those who organized and took part in the flotilla “and their identities” (BBC). The last requirement, not surprisingly, shifts the focus away from Israel and tries to make them the victims. This culture of victimization and no sense of accountability will no doubt result in another travesty of justice.
Perhaps a way to begin seeking an equitable justice is to awaken the world and make it aware of conditions around them. The Red Cross has called the Gaza blockade illegal, as it leads to collective punishment. The measly list of about 80 items which are allowed into Gaza and expected to sustain a population of 1.5 million is grossly underwhelming. The Red Cross claims the lack of many basic medications coupled with Gaza’s frequent electricity outages that damage equipment is contributing to the dire health care situation (Al-Jazeera). In 2008, Gaza had only 133 beds per 100,000 people. Also, about 25% of Gazans who try to leave and seek out better health care are denied exist visas. The health of children is adversely affected as well, as they often suffer stunted growth from malnutrition (Al-Jazeera).
B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has also come out with its 2009-2010 human rights report on conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. It has found that 95% of Gaza’s factories have closed, 98% of residents suffer from blackouts, and that 93% of Gaza’s water is polluted. B’Tselem also condemns what it sees as Israel’s culture of impunity. As the world is becoming more aware of such deplorable conditions, especially in Gaza, more voices are speaking out in opposition. Tony Blair, the EU’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, has condemned the arbitrary list of permitted items and suggests a list of prohibited items instead (Al-Jazeera). Obama has the same view, though neither advocate an end to the blockade. However, Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, after a visit to Gaza called for an end to the blockade (Al-Jazeera). It seems that those who see conditions first-hand or are more educated about the situation are unable to sit quietly as Israel continues to abuse human rights.