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The Gaza Blockade Is Illegal– And So Is The Use Of Force To Maintain It

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is among the leading guardians of human rights in the world. Sari Bashi is HRW’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director. She can lay claim to an impressive academic pedigree (BA, Yale; JD, Yale), and she co-founded the important Israeli human rights group Gisha. It thus cannot but depress that Bashi is so wanting in elementary moral and legal judgment when it comes to the people of Gaza.

Shortly after the Israeli massacre in Gaza on 14 May 2018, Bashi posted a commentary under the title, “Don’t Blame Hamas for the Gaza Bloodshed.”

​Its essence is captured in the opening sentence: “Israel has a right to defend its borders, but shooting unarmed protesters who haven’t breached its frontier is disproportionate and illegal.” Insofar as the demonstrators didn’t pose an “imminent threat to life,” Bashi concludes, Israel had no right to use lethal force against them and, in any event, did not “exhaust” nonlethal means “such as tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets” to throw back the assembled crowd.

The UN has pronounced Gaza unlivable, while Sara Roy of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has written, “Innocent people, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink.” Is it not a tad unseemly, not to say unsettling, for the representative of a respected human rights organization to coach Israel how to stay within the letter of the law—before resorting to bullets, you must first try “tear gas, skunk water, and rubber-coated steel pellets”—while it’s herding two million people, half of them children, in an unlivable space in which they are slowly being poisoned?

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