Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ruled out allowing needed goods into Gaza, which Israel has virtually surrounded from land and sea, until Hamas releases captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Olmert is thereby committing a war crime. You can't collectively punish the general Gaza population if you are the occupying authority. It is not allowed to torture that wailing child in the video above by keeping out painkillers, just because some adult somewhere from the same territory captured an Israeli soldier. But Olmert will get a pass on his war crimes. Apparently you only get punished for them if you are weak or lose; it isn't the crime but the power of the criminal that matters.This is more or less what the Palestinian representative at the UN says, too (and keep in mind that he's a PA, i.e. Fatah person, not a Hamas appointee)
The Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, stressed the importance of achieving a long-lasting cease-fire so that Israel does not go and attack our people as they want but said Shalit's release should not be linked to the opening of border crossings.Not everyone, however, agrees. Among the dissenting voices one can find - mildly astonishingly - Robert Serry, the UN's top Mideast envoy (same link as Mansour):
"These are two separate issues," he told reporters. "To connect them in this manner, it means that the Israeli government is not interested in a long-lasting cease-fire now, and not interested in opening the crossings and lifting the siege."
Serry told council members that a durable cease-fire can only be achieved if there is broad progress including an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Shalit, who was captured in a 2006 cross-border raid, action to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, the opening of borders, and unity among rival Palestinian factions.So, on one side we've got Cole and the Palestinians, while on the other side we've got an important UN fellow and Israel. How very peculiar.
These steps, he said, would also pave the way for the longer term recovery and reconstruction of Gaza.
"I emphasize these points...because one month since unilateral cease-fires were declared, a proper cease-fire is still not in place, and there is an ever present danger of a return to the unsustainable conditions of last year, or even for renewed and more devastating violence," Serry warned.
Asked afterward about Israel's decision to link the border openings with
Shalit's release, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said, "If you want to improve the situation in Gaza, you have to look at the other issues as well, and Shalit is a very important one."