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Palestinian Civilians Bear the Brunt of Unrelenting Bombings in U.S.-Backed Attack on Gaza

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President Obama has announced his full support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip even as dozens of Palestinians, including many civilians, continue to be killed by U.S.-supplied weaponry. At least 95 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes by warplanes and drones. More than 700 have been wounded, including 200 children. On Sunday, a massive air strike leveled a home in Gaza City killing 12 people, including 10 members of the same family. Over the past week, rockets fired from Gaza have killed three Israelis. We go to Gaza to speak with Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. [includes rush transcript]

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StoryNov 19, 2012U.N. Special Rapporteur Calls for Global Protection of Gaza Civilians from U.S.-Backed Israeli Assault
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli attack on Gaza has entered its sixth day with few signs of letting up. At least 95 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes by warplanes and drones. More than 700 have been wounded, including 200 children. Earlier today, an Israeli strike near the Bureij refugee camp killed at least three children, including an 18-month-old infant, and two women. On Sunday, a massive air strike leveled a home in Gaza City killing 12 people, including 10 members of the same family. Over the past week, rockets fired from Gaza have killed three Israelis.

Speaking in Bangkok Sunday, President Obama supported Israel’s attack on Gaza.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So, we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us now from Gaza is Raji Sourani, an award-winning human rights lawyer, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. He is on the executive board of the International Federation for Human Rights. In 1991, he won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Prize.

Raji, can you tell us where you are right now and describe what’s happening in Gaza?

RAJI SOURANI: I’m in Gaza City in the western part of the city, just near the beach. And the situation for the last 24 hours has been escalated in a very, very drastic way, meaning—I mean more and more aerial bombardment coming for the Gaza. Gunships have been bombing all over the place. And the number of killings and injuries, especially among civilians, raised in a very unique way. In the last five days, we lost 27 civilians, women and children. But in the last 24 hours, we lost 31 civilians, including al-Dalo family where 10 family members has been killed during this air raid on their three-stories home.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you know who this family was? And who were the 10 members of this family?

RAJI SOURANI: We are talking about six children, four women. And this family good—I mean, nice, good, working family, a successful businessman who’s doing well, I mean, in Gaza. And they have nothing to do with politics. I mean, like any ordinary, standard Gazans. I think this wasn’t, I mean, the first, you know, house to be targeted. And the eye of the storm, Gaza civilians. An overwhelming majority so far among the killings and injuries are civilians. More than 70 percent are civilians. We know them, we count them, we document them, and we are aware about that. Even, I mean, the targets are very, very civilian targets. You are talking about private houses. You are talking about police stations. You are talking about soccer fields. You are talking about water wells. I mean, it’s amazing. I think the Israelis very intentionally targeting civilians. They are the one in the eye of the storm.

I’ll share with you a very personal story. My family house, located in the heart of the Gaza City, is just near a police station. And this police station, since first hour, no one in it. It’s entirely empty. But last night, 3:00 in the morning, my aunt—she is 87—and I have two brothers who passed through open-heart surgeries, and many of the children rounded the house, and 10 to 3:00 a.m. in the early morning, maybe one-ton bomb hit the first time, and second bomb exploded. And the entire neighborhood, I mean, was just insane. I mean, it’s like earthquake hit to place, tsunami hit the place.

I’m wondering, Amy, what’s the added security value of bombing a civilian police station? And this police station is empty. And what’s the added value of causing damage for something around 10 houses around that police station? And what’s the added value of terrorizing more than 20-30,000 people who live around that place? It’s incredible what’s going on here. We don’t feel entirely hostage to this Israeli belligerent occupation and their practice. Civilians are the target. They are exactly the same thing which had happened four years ago, when Cast Lead operation has been carried by Israel, and again, civilians were in the eye of the storm. If these things—Dalo family killed, bombing these places, terrorizing civilians—are not war crimes, what are war crimes?

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play for you a comment by Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister. He thanked the Obama administration for its support.

EHUD BARAK: This effort could not have been concluded without the generous and consistent support of the American administration, led by President Obama.

AMY GOODMAN: I was wondering if you can comment on what the Israeli defense minister said and President Obama’s own words, saying that any country has the right to defend its own population, talking about the Hamas missiles that are being shot out of Gaza.

RAJI SOURANI: First thing I have to say that, I swear, one day we will hold accountable all these Israeli leaders because of the war crimes and crimes against humanity they are perpetrating against children and women, against civilians in this part of the world. We are people who believe in rule of law and accountability. And Obama administration provided full legal, political immunity for those who are criminals, when Cast Lead operation had happened few years ago. And they used a veto in the Security Council not to pass Goldstone Report and being tried through the ICC.

Now, that makes us—when I do hear this statement of Mr. Obama and Mr. Barak, that Mr. Obama is a real partner of Israel and the crimes they are doing against civilians. If there are a lack of facts—and I am sure there are not—we can provide them with very first-class, legal-documented files showing, I mean, all these war crimes and crimes against humanity, I mean, Israel do perpetrate. We are civilians under occupation. We are entitled for protection. International law, international humanitarian law give us that. Geneva Conventions are not for intellect or academics; it’s for civilians to have it on their skin, to be protected at the time of war, not peace. We are the targets of this Israeli belligerent occupation offensive. We are the target of this war. We are the one whom we face state terrorism on our skin. We are the ones who are counting the corpses and injuries of the children, women and civilians. This is shame, because—this is not, I mean, really what we say; this is what Human Rights Watch says. This is what ICJ, International Commission of Jurists; FIDH; [inaudible] the Euro-Med Human Rights Network; even Israeli human rights organization talk about what’s going on here. It’s Kafka, when we are the people who are entitled for protection, and we’re called in law that protected civilian under the occupation, being exposed as the victimizers of this Israeli belligerent occupation, reminding everybody that we are the only country on earth who have this belligerent occupation for the last 45 years.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break, then come back to this discussion. We are with Raji Sourani, a well-known Palestinian human rights attorney, winner of the RFK Memorial Prize for his human rights work. And we’re also going to be joined by the U.N. rapporteur, Richard Falk. So, stay with us.

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