U.S. Lawyers Group Speaks Out Against Israeli Brutality

Category: World Affairs Topics: Human Rights, Occupation Views: 792
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(IVIEWS.COM) The U.S. based National Lawyers Guild is one of a growing number of western human rights organizations and concerned groups that have become vocal in condemning Israel's excessive use of force against the Palestinian people.

A resolution passed by the National Lawyers Guild, which maintains a membership of thousands of American lawyers, law students and workers in the legal field, stated that in order for Israel to suppress the Palestinian uprising, it "intensified its violations of international law and used an excessive use of force in a disproportionate reaction." The guild's resolution, which reflected the group's knowledge of the unfolding circumstances in the Middle East, accused the US government for lack of objectivity and leading a biased role.

"The US government has undermined a fair and just resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict by its persistent support of Israeli impunity in the face of international law and its massive funding of the Israeli military and nuclear weapons industry," the group charged.

In an interview with iviews.com, Steve Goldberg from the National Lawyers Guild said his organization has taken strong positions on the rights of Palestinians for many years, stressing the recent resolution was merely a further step. He also said the group is planning to send a delegation to the Middle East in mid-January of 2001.

"The purpose is to investigate and report on the role of US military and economic aid in the suppression of the Palestinian people. Included in the Guild's mandate to its delegation is its directive to also examine and investigate the treatment by the government of Israel of the Palestinian citizens of Israel in violation of International Law," he said.

Arab and Muslim groups in the United States were among the first groups to speak out strongly against Israel's brutality. Such a reaction was expected, considering the religious and ethnic attachment most US Arabs and Muslims hold for the Palestinian cause. On October 2, thirteen of these groups issued a joint statement in a press conference held in Washington DC, where they demanded that their government "cut off all foreign aid to Israel" and called for an international tribunal to investigate Israel's conduct in the Occupied Territories.

The groups, which were united under the umbrella of The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), included well-known groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

Early coordination among Muslim and Arab groups in the United States generated considerable success in mobilizing their communities to lead massive protests nationwide, and to maintain a considerably effective pro-Palestinian campaign that aimed at educating the American public on the Palestinian viewpoint of the crisis.

As early as October 2nd, the Palestinian human rights groups, Al Haq and Al-Mazen sent a joint letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, informing him of the initial human rights violations in the Territories.

"The large number of injuries to the head and chest indicate the deliberate intention of the Israeli forces to inflict the highest number of casualties and unnecessary suffering among civilians," read the letter, adding, "the excessive use of lethal force by the Israeli military against Palestinians is a violation of international humanitarian law and the principals of proportionately."

Amnesty International, was also quick in issuing a statement expressing concerns over the Middle East violence. The group's early statements appeared hesitant to take sides, as is often the case when human rights are at stake. On October 04, Amnesty decided to send a delegation of experts to the Occupied Territories and Israel, to "investigate circumstances of the killings and to make recommendations to the Israeli government."

In its statement, Amnesty expressed its "regret" regarding Israel's refusal to cooperate with a US-led commission of inquiry. Amnesty's statement didn't call for United Nations involvement in the proposed commission, however it didn't make any party immune from investigation, including Israeli security services.

Shortly following Amnesty's announcement, representatives from Human Rights Watch, which is compiled of groups from four major world capitals, arrived in the Occupied Territories to begin an investigation into the actions of the Israeli forces.

Soon other groups joined in the chorus of criticism of Israel's policies. On November 03, one of the most resolved statements yet to be issued from a western group was made by US based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which sent a medical team to Israel, conducted an extensive investigation analyzing the types and the magnitude of the injuries.

"Israeli soldiers appear to be shooting in order to inflict harm, rather than solely in self-defense," reported PHR. "The high proportion of fatal head wounds suggests that given broad rules of engagement, soldiers are specifically aiming at peoples' heads."


  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Human Rights, Occupation
Views: 792

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