expressed that the 2008-2009
destruction of Gaza may be but a prelude to
war on Lebanon.
He also said that Israel flew more than 2000 combat missions, but not a single plane was damaged because Hamas most of time sat in bunkers; an Israeli analyst said not a single battle was fought.
“After the first week of the air assault, the land assault began. The Israeli soldiers had special night-fighting equipment so Hamas couldn't even see them. One Israeli soldier said: 'There was nothing there. It was a ghost town, with only livestock.' Another soldier said: “I didn't see a single Arab the whole week I was there.' Another Israeli soldier said: “It felt like hunting season. It reminded me of a playstation computer game.' ”
It may sound strange, Mr. Finkelstein said the reality is that the so called War in Gaza was really 22 days of death and destruction of Gaza and its people. He said the Israeli military used white phosphorous over schools, hospitals and markets, resulting in 1400 Palestinians deaths. white phosphorous burns at a temperature of 816 degrees Celsius.
“Four-fifths of these deaths were civilians, of which 400 were children. Israel had 10 combat deaths and four civilian. The kill ratio was 100 to one. Is this a war or a massacre?”
He asked the audience to raise their hands if they have heard a claim by Israel that the high number of civilians death was caused by hamas in trying to use the civilians as human sheild. Many raised their hands, but few did when he asked them how many of the 300 human rights organizations that investigated reported any evidence of Hamas using human shields or forcing people to remain around buildings controlled by Hamas.
“That shows the power of media,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “The basic facts are not widely known.”
He added that Amnesty International said even if Israeli accusations of human shields being used were true, it doesn't explain the deaths in Gaza.
“Many were killed in their homes or going about their daily activities. Of the 400 children killed, many were studying or playing on their roofs or in their homes. All the human rights organizations said these actions were war crimes and crimes against humanity. They said Hamas committed comparable crimes, but not on a comparable scale.”
He acknowledged that Israel has the right to prevent weapons from entering Gaza, but noted that because both sides are guilty of war crimes and violations of human rights, under international law, both sides should be subjected to a weapons embargo.
Mr. Finkelstein said he thinks the real motive for the assault on Gaza was part of a plan to re-establish Israel's deterrence capacity, after defeat in Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. He said a former US ambassador to Israel has predicted that Israel will attack Lebanon within the next 18 months.
“Israel has made it clear that it intends to do to Lebanon, what it did to Gaza – use massive force against the civilian infrastructure. Israel has said that the next war will be a game-changer. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said the next war will be a tit for tat war – a factory for a factory and an airport for an airport. If missiles hit Tel Aviv there will be massive casualties. There's no way that Israel will accept a third defeat in Lebanon. If Hezbollah starts losing, it's almost certain that Iran will enter, knowing they will be next. It's difficult to know how it will end, but both sides will probably resort to extreme measures.”
Much of the peace process to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just a facade for annexation. said Mr. Finkelstein:
“In September 1993, when the Oslo Peace Accord was signed, there were 250,000 settlers. Now, 17 years later there are 500,000 settlers. Fourty-two per cent of the West Bank has been annexed. When Palestinians complain about this, Israel says the issue of settlements must be negotiated in the peace process.”