Israel-Gaza conflict: Who bears moral responsibility for hospital deaths in Gaza due to lack of fuel and electricity?

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1) Keith Perry, “Firefighters save donkey stuck in mud-filled storm drain;
Amigo reunited with owner after straps used to pull animal out of pit in field,” The Telegraph, October 28, 2023 (4:27pm);

2) Perry Bacon Jr., “The Biden administration should rethink its Israeli-Palestinian policies,” Washington Post, October 28, 2023 (11:00 am EDT);


Keith Perry reports on how firefighters were able to save a donkey who was stuck in a mud-filled storm drain in Shropshire, England. Our heart is moved by the rescue of the donkey, named Amigo (“friend” in Spanish) and Amigo’s reuniting with his owner.

Meanwhile, some 2.2 civilians are trapped in Gaza, as Israel expands its operations on the ground and its bombardments from the air in Gaza.

In a medieval siege, Israel has has cut off electricity, water, fuel, and medical supplies to Gaza, and since October 27 all internet and phone communications within the enclave.

Fewer than 100 trucks have brought humanitarian assistance into Gaza in the last three weeks. U.N. agencies estimate that at least 100 trucks per day are required to meet the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s populatiion.

Israel has stated that Hamas has ample supplies of water and fuel, and that Hamas should release them to the civilian population.

In effect, Israel has turned the 2.2 million residents in Gaza into hostages of Hamas, whose utter disregard for human life is manifest.

Firemen saved the donkey in England.  Who will save the civilian population of Gaza?

Perry Bacon Jr. gives brilliant expression to the grave doubts many Democrats and Democratic supporters have about President Biden’s policies and decisions in response to the atrocities of Hamas on October 7 and the actions against Gaza and its residents Israel has been taking in response. These actions include a medieval-style total siege of Gaza in open contravention of international humanitarian law.

Babies on incubators and patients receiving dialysis will die as machines operating on electricity and hospitals shut down due to the lack of electricity and fuel to run their emergency generators.

Israel has taken the unyielding position that it will not allow fuel to go into the Gaza Strip.  Fuel is needed to operate the desalination plants that produce much of the water ordinarily consumed in Gaza. Fuel is needed to operate emergency electricity generators at hospitals, as noted above. Fuel is needed to generate electricity to operate water pumps to extract water from tbe ground and to distribute water through the water system.  Fuel is needed for truck delivery of water and other humanitarian supplies throughout Gaza. Fuel is needed for energy for bakeries to bake bread.

Israel’s response on fuel has been a callous and uncompromising refusal to allow any fuel into Gaza, losing all sense of proportionality and respect for international humanitarian law.

Who bears moral responsibility for the deaths of civilians that inevitably have occurred and will occur?

Hamas, to be sure.

Israel, to be sure, which is engaged in blatant violation of the laws of war by its siege and also by what appears to be bombing and destruction which violate the principles of discrimination (between civilians and combatants) and proportionality.

Now of course Israel makes endless arguments to the effect that it is observing international humanitarian law.  The important thing to bear in mind is that those arguments are based on self-judging Israeli interpretations of the laws of war.  Aside from the U.S. and a handful of countries, those interpretations are not shared by a great majority of other countries.

International law is, after all, international.  It does not depend on the self-judging interpretation of its provisions by Israel, or even by the United States.

Israel obviously bears great moral responsibility for the siege of Gaza and its consequences, and whatever destruction it causes by bombardments and other actions in violation of international humanitarian law.

We are speaking of international humanitarian law as interpreted by the international community of states, including interpretations by international tribunals such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

What can be said about the moral responsibility of the United States, which appears to be actively assisting and advising Israel on the conduct of its ground and air operations against Hamas?

Is America also morally responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza?

Is the fact that the U.S. has urged restraint exculpatory as it has advised and assisted Israel in its ground and air operations against Hamas in Gaza?

Most importantly, how can the siege be ended, and the actions of Israel brought into compliance with the requirements of international humanitarian law?

Finally, what can be done to ensure that each and every Hamas fighter and official is held accountable for the war crimes they have committed and are committing (e.g., by firing rockets at Israeli civilian populations)?

The Trenchant Observer


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