"This silence begets complicity," Tutu insisted. (Reuters)
South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu on Thursday, September 18, accused the West of complicity in Palestinian suffering, blaming the West’s deafening silence to its sense of guilt over the Holocaust.
"I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent for its awful connivance with the Holocaust," Tutu told journalists after delivering a report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council about Israel’s deadly shelling of the town of Beit Hanoun in 2006.
"The West is penitent, the penance is being paid by the Palestinians."
Israel has been closing the Gaza Strip’s exits to the outside world since last June, banning food, fuel and medical supplies.
With support form the US and the European Union, decisions by Arab government to transfer aid to Gaza remain ink on paper.
Money and in kind assistance raised by NGOs and individuals remain stranded at the Egyptian border with Gaza, the latest being a Scottish aid convoy.
Tutu, the South African archbishop famed for his anti-apartheid activism, said the West does not want to criticize Israel because of the Holocaust.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Holocaust refers to "systematic state-sponsored killing of Jewish men, women, and children and others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II."
The commonly used figure for the number of Jewish victims is six million.
But the figure has been questioned by many European historians and intellectuals, chiefly French author Roger Garaudy.
Tutu, the South African archbishop famed for his anti-apartheid activism, criticized the international community for failing to speak out against the suffering of the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, under an Israeli blockade.
He told the UN Human Rights Council that "the international community is failing to fulfill its role in respect of the suffering of the people of Gaza."
"It is the silence of the international community in the face of what is happening there which most offends. This silence begets complicity," Tutu insisted.
"I just hope that ordinary citizens in the West will wake up and say, ‘we refuse to be part of this’," Tutu said.
Some 44 activists from 17 world countries recently demonstrated once again the power of people in making a difference when governments and politicians fail to rise to the challenge.
The activists sailed aboard two boats into Gaza waters on Saturday, August 23, to break the Israeli siege.
The Liberty and Free Gaza boats made the 370-kilometre voyage from Larnaca port on Cyprus’s south coast, carrying 200 hearing aids for Gaza children and 5,000 balloons.
Tutu told the UN Human Rights Council the Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun might be a war crime.
"In the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military — who is in sole possession of the relevant facts — the mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime."
Israeli occupation forces bombarded houses in the battered northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing twenty Palestinians, including eight children and four women, in their sleep.
Pools of blood laid in the streets as pieces of flesh and the small sandals of children were strewn about.
An Israeli military committee in February blamed the fatalities on "a rare and severe failure in the artillery fire control system."
Following an internal investigation, it decided that no legal action would be taken against military personnel.
"Israeli response of a largely secret internal military investigation is absolutely unacceptable from both legal and moral points of view," said Tutu, who was mandated by the UN in 2006 to investigate the incident.
"Regardless of whether the casualties at Beit Hanoun were caused by a mistake, recklessness, criminal negligence or willful conduct, those responsible must be held accountable."
(By IOL Staff- Islam Online)