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Jonathon Cook: Why I accuse the Red Cross of being gutless

By Jonathon Cook | June 18, 2014

I have had further thoughts about my brief Facebook comments attacking the International Committee of the Red Cross. I accused the organisation of hypocrisy for calling for the immediate release of the three abducted Israeli teenagers while refusing to call for a similar release of the nearly 200 Palestinian children effectively taken hostage by a member state of the UN (Israel) while in their own territory (Palestine) and then illegally transferred into foreign territory (Israel). …

I stand by my earlier accusation that the ICRC has proved itself to be serially gutless in remaining silent over decades about Israel’s belligerent occupation, but I should have set out the reasons for my criticism more fully.

Back in 2003, rumours started to surface that Israel was running a secret prison where Arabs seized by its security services overseas (mostly from Lebanon) were being held and horrifically abused. It was Israel’s Abu Ghraib. The Israeli media even reported later on a court case in which a Lebanese Shia leader, Mustafa Dirani, who was held in this secret jail, revealed that he had been repeatedly sodomised with a wooden baton during interrogations.

The prison, known only as Facility 1391, started to come to light only because of a small oversight by Israel. Following the mass round-ups of Palestinians as the second intifada reached its peak, Israel ran out of space in its normal prisons and started to put a few Palestinians into the secret jail, or possibly jails. However, Israel had habeas corpus-style obligations, even according to its own legal codes, to report the whereabouts of Palestinian prisoners to their lawyers (not true for the other Arab inmates, who had no legal representation). Some leading Israeli human rights lawyers started to work out that these few Palestinian prisoners had effectively been disappeared.

I began working on the story, and published it (here, here and here). During the research I was told that the ICRC knew about 1391 and were aware of its location.

When I called their office in Jerusalem to speak to them about it, they refused to say anything on the record. In fact they pretty much refused to say anything at all, apart from confirming that they knew of the prison’s existence, although they claimed not to have had access to it.

Their justification for refusing to speak further or to criticise Israel for the gross violation of international law the prison represented was that they believed it was more important to maintain a position of absolute political neutrality. They told me it was vitally in the interests of the Palestinian prison population that they keep the trust of Israel so that their access would not be withdrawn. That was not a view I shared, but it was one I could believe was honourably held.

But the principle of “absolute political neutrality” that was so important to the ICRC back in 2003 – and has apparently directed their policy for decades, given their almost complete silence on Israel’s belligerent occupation – has now been jettisoned with casual abandon when it comes to defending the rights of three Israeli teenagers. What about “absolute political neutrality” towards the Palestinians?

This is hypocrisy of the highest order, and why I continue to call the ICRC gutless – more concerned about the might of the Israel lobby than the rights of Palestinians under occupation.

June 18, 2014 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I would not accuse the International Committee of the Red Cross of being gutless, I do accuse the International Committee of the Red Cross a. of being biased (as the International Committee of the Red Cross allows National Committees of the Red Cross to support political goals, and then especially western political goals), b. of being discriminatory (as the International Committee of the Red Cross supports countries, states and national as well as international political organizations who and what exclude certain groups of individuals from social and economical benefits), c. of being racist (due to the fact that the International Committee of the Red Cross does not offer the same assistance to solve natural disasters to people in the west as in the regions of for instance Africa), and finally d. of being corrupt (due to the fact that members of the International Committee of the Red Cross are presented with gifts and offers from governments and organizations, were these members of the International Committee of the Red Cross accept these gifts and offers, gifts being for instance governments paying for expensive hotels were members of the International Committee of the Red Cross stay while visiting on inspection tours the countries, gifts being for instance receiving expensive watches, cars etc.)

    That is why I have no respect for the International Committee of the Red Cross, not calling the gutless!


    Comment by masteradrian | June 18, 2014 | Reply

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