By Vijay Prashad. This article was first published on al-Araby.
Comment: Israel’s litany of attacks on civilian and UN targets will continue to be ignored by the international community, says Vijay Prashad.
UN investigations into potential Israeli war crimes are often met with a shrug of the shoulders by officials in Tel Aviv due to a history of UN reports coming to nothing.
In 1996, the Israeli army shelled a UN post in Qana, Lebanon killing 106 Lebanese civilians.
The UN appointed Major-General Franklin van Kappen from the Netherlands to investigate the attack. He concluded that it was “unlikely that gross technical and/or procedural errors led to the shelling of the United Nations compound”.
In other words, the shelling of the UN post was deliberate.
Israel refused to accept the findings of van Kappen’s report finding it “inaccurate and one-sided”.
Although there was no evidence of any militant presence in or near the UN post, Israel attempted to point the finger at Hizballah.
In late January this year, Israel fired a missile at a convoy in the Golan Heights, killing senior Hizballah and Iranian officials. Hizballah retailed by firing rockets into Israel.
Israel escalated the situation by shelling a UN observation tower in Ghajar, Lebanon killing a Spanish soldier assigned to the UN interim force in Lebanon.
The UN Security Council called for a “full and comprehensive investigation” into the incident.
A UN interim force official told me that there was no question that Israel deliberately targeted the tower.
A Spanish corporal, Ivan Lopez Sanchez, who was nearby, said that the Israelis kept “correcting the trajectory” of their artillery until they hit the UN post.
Sergeant Julio Javier Garcia agrees. He says that the Israeli shells first fell 500m to the north of the post, and then the soldiers “corrected the trajectory towards the position”.
An Israeli report – with two Spanish artillery experts on board – now says that the Ghajar attack was not deliberate
but the result of a “calculation error”.
Spanish defense minister Pedro Morenes hastily said in a news conference in April that the Israeli attack was the result of “negligence” and a “chain of mistakes”.
Socialist politician Diego Lopez Garrido insisted that the government, nonetheless, condemned the death of the corporal. “Of course I condemn it,” snapped the minister.
Food for rats
That same report showed conclusively that Palestinian militants did not take cover in any UN shelters during the Gaza war in June, although they were targeted by Israel.
On 4 May, the Israeli army chief who led the last war on Gaza, Benny Gantz, said that mortar bombs fired “from a UN installation in Gaza” killed a four-year-old Israeli citizen, Daniel Tragerman.
Gantz should have known that this was a false statement. A few hours after Tragerman’s death, on 22 August 2014, the Israeli army’s spokesman Peter Lerner said that the mortar bomb was not fired from a UN installation.
“It is extremely disappointing that a former head of the Israeli army should repeat an allegation publicly retracted by his own spokesperson,” said UNRWA’s Chris Gunness.
Israel gets away with its attacks on UN installations, even when it results in a loss of life.
There is no justice for the dead of Qana and there will be no justice for Soria Toledo, the Spanish colonel killed in southern Lebanon.
Those killed in the UN shelters during this last Gaza war will likely be forgotten.
The UN’s investigations suggest serious war crimes, and yet everyone knows that no action will be taken.
The credibility of the UN members states is greatly strained as it is clear to all that the US prevents any movement of files from investigative agencies to prosecutors.
Reports are written and then buried, food not so much for thought, but for rats.